How the new Chaplaincy Innovation Lab is building a learning community for ministers

Brandeis University News

Rev. Donna Mote, an Episcopal chaplain at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, works in one of busiest transport hubs in the world. With over 883,680 take-offs and landings per year, the airport’s daily population is a city unto itself—an average of 276,000 passengers and 63,000 employees.Rev. Mote said that while she loves airports and aviation, she knows that traveling can be a stressful experience for many. “It’s good to be in that space and to be a hope, a source of calm in the midst of confusion. It’s never the same day twice,” said Rev. Mote. “It puts you in a real mix of people and languages and cultures and religions.”AdvertisementThis type of diversity is more common in chaplaincy than other pastoral work. While most ministers serve a fairly fixed community of believers who share their faith, “most chaplains do their work in a hospital or a prison or the military, and their congregation, so to speak, is everyone who is involved in that hospital or that prison,” said Wendy Cadge, a sociologist at Brandeis University who has studied chaplaincy for over a decade. “My opinion is that chaplains need to be much more familiar with religious difference.”The new Chaplaincy Innovation Lab seeks to gather theologians, academics and chaplains to share practical strategies for effective chaplaincy.Dr. Cadge is one of the researchers spearheading the new Chaplaincy Innovation Lab based out of University in Waltham, Mass. On Oct. 9, the lab launched its website and related social media platforms. The website, which will include a series of webinars hosted by chaplains, seeks to gather theologians, academics and chaplains to share research and practical strategies for effective chaplaincy.The goal of the lab is to create community and discover best practices of chaplaincy formation. Many masters of divinity programs are currently geared more toward forming pastors, ministers that will …

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