Denominational Ministry in a Changing Society
A Phenomenological Study of the Attitudes and Beliefs of Hospital Chaplains in Northern Ireland
Keywords:Attitudes, chaplaincy, denominational, Northern Ireland, professionalization
The recent history of Northern Ireland society is one in which denominationally-defined communities have been losing identity in favour of more fluid, diverse and secular forms of social interaction. The practice of hospital chaplaincy reflects this social transition: it is faced with the challenge of redefining itself in non-sectarian ways, as expressed in the migration of hospital chaplaincy from a denominationally-based to person-centred model of care. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with a representative sample of chaplains working in Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts in Northern Ireland (NI). Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) ten key themes were identified that fell into three areas: training for chaplaincy, the delivery of chaplaincy and the relationship between chaplains and the institutions of church and hospital. The themes shed new light on how chaplains are negotiating this transition from a denominational to a post-denominational context; and the tensions and pitfalls they encounter.
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