The Church in the Marketplace While hospitals, schools, prisons and the military are traditionally associated with having staff chaplains, Adrienne R. Hymes believes there is opportunity in the marketplace. TAMPA - I believe that God’s grace can in the hospital setting, through patient and meaning in vocation.
be found in the ordinary moments of life where people live, work and play. In any given workplace, one finds all three, inextricably entangled. As I walk on holy ground throughout the halls of Morton Plant Hospital as a chaplain resident, my primary role is to provide pastoral care for patients and their families. The nature of the hospital context is unique in that it is at once a site of patient care and a complex workplace. This setting uniquely positions me to serve as chaplain to the direct caregivers (physicians, nurses and patient care technicians) as well as the ancillary staff, many of whom work on the “margins” of direct patient care, including the cafeteria, environmental services, housekeeping and security. For the past three years, I have been researching and writing about an unsung ministry that meets people where they are in the workplace, in its myriad expressions. This fascinating and vibrant instrument of mission in the mission field of the marketplace is known as workplace chaplaincy. As I compare my on-the-ground experience as a chaplain in the hospital with my 13 years of experience in corporate life in the public relations industry, I am struck by the common denominator of the shared “circle of life”—the human experiences of birth, life and death. I have observed this circle manifesting explicitly 22
family care, and implicitly in the institutional workplace of the hospital, through my care for the staff.
Parallel to the Parish In many workplace environments one can identify every life event — birth, life and death—unfolding where people labor. Birth events, for example, happen when an individual enters a new work environment. Just as a baby learns to speak the native tongue of the community in which it is formed, a new employee must learn their company’s industry lingo. Babies learn to crawl before they walk, and so does the new hire. This can be seen most clearly in young adults or recent college graduates entering the professional workforce for the first time, as well as individuals who are re-entering the workforce after many years. For someone who is a part of a professional team, “life” reflects the ongoing navigation of the unpredictable terrain of a workplace’s unique politics, survival tactics, productivity expectations and organizational dynamics. In this period of “life” in a workplace, individuals spend as much, if not more, time with their colleagues outside of the home than they do with their own families. It is in this space that an individual may experience sustained periods of hopelessness, isolation and lack of
The dying processes and death events in the workplace may manifest, for example, in the sudden death of a job, due to an involuntary layoff, or a carefully-planned voluntary retirement which has finally become reality. Both can create emotional and spiritual pain for the individual as well as for the workers who are left behind. Whether or not the loss of the job or career is involuntary or voluntary, there is a sense of loss leading up to, and at the time of, the “death.” Where there is loss, its steady companion, grief (anticipatory and com-
The Rev. Hugh White A forgotten effort at workplace chaplaincy is the work of The Rev. Hugh C. White Jr., who in 1965 founded the Detroit Industrial Mission. White’s idea was to provide spiritual support to workers on the production lines of the major automobile manufacturers of Detroit. The effort was intended to be an active partner to parish ministry by entering into the workplace. White detailed his work in the book Mission to Metropolis: A Total Strategy.