A ‘friend for the journey’ is how the Rev William Ruddle explains his new job.
William has been appointed to the post of industrial chaplain for the south-east of the county, a new ecumenical role created by Lincolnshire Chaplaincy Services, which in turn was established by Churches Together in Lincolnshire.
To illustrate his point, William tells the story of St Martin who, when he came across a stranger who was cold and tired on the wayside, put his own cloak around the two of them to travel to the next town together.
William says: “Rather than St Martin giving his cloak to the other man, he shares his cloak and walks with him to the next stage. Chaplaincy for millennia has been understood as a ‘friend for the journey’. I think the church has an increasing recognition that the church is at its best when it is outside its building, when it is engaging in the community.”
William and his wife Louise (formerly Chamberlain and from a Moulton Chapel family heavily involved in Methodism) have moved to Pinchbeck with their nine-year-old twins, Joshua and Hannah.
William was a Baptist minister, though he describes himself as “a Christian, evangelical and a Baptist in that order”.
He has an enormous area to cover, nearly 1,200 square miles, containing hundreds of thousands of people, and hundreds of churches and companies.
For that reason William wants to inspire others to become volunteer chaplains to offer support to businesses and their staff in times of need.
William says: “We are saying to businesses, ‘This is not just the fluffy stuff, this can actually impact your bottom line’.”
He sees chaplains offering help to firms in four main areas: pastoral support for staff during times of personal crisis; support for organisations during times of change and upheaval; getting involved in mediation; and acting as a “voice to power”.
He said: “Chaplains are seen as an honest broker in the conversation between perhaps trade unions and management... saying ‘Is this right or just?’ We would say zero hours contracts with exclusivity contracts are morally wrong.
“We would say to a company, ‘Look at the damage it does to your potential workforce’.
“The key message is that a healthy, happy workforce is more productive and most large organisations know that and have been very welcoming to chaplaincy so far.”