Anglican chaplain and author Fiona Stewart-Darling explains how the multifaith chaplaincy at Canary Wharf has contributed to the well-being of the many people who work in one of the busiest centres of global finance.
While many argue that personal faith is on the decrease, this does not hold true for the public arena. In my book I argue that far from disappearing from our society, faith and religion are still very much present and an important part of many people’s lives, and increasingly visible and active in the public arena. This has been my experience, having spent a number of years working as a chaplain with an international business community from the financial and professional services industry, in Canary Wharf, East London. During this time, I have become aware of an increasing open generosity towards religion and belief and the distinctive role chaplaincy can play in the workplace.
Chaplaincy, in particular multifaith chaplaincy, is well established within hospitals, prisons and universities, all of which have their own models. However, it is less established in the workplace and so within this book I tell the Canary Wharf Multifaith Chaplaincy story; how we have developed a chaplaincy model for this community based on its context and needs. We live in a fast and changing world, where technology is evolving constantly, which continues to change the way business operates.
Economic activity is global and other new economies are beginning to emerge and contribute to the global economy. This has implications for the workforce, which is becoming more diverse in terms of nationality, cultures and faith. Because the chaplaincy is multifaith we are able to interact with these challenges, and we have discovered that we are able to speak openly and with integrity about faith and how it can positively impact the workplace and contribute to the wellbeing of employees and their behaviour.
Within the book I tell the story of the evolving chaplaincy, its challenges and opportunities. The majority of workplace chaplaincy initiatives have come from the Christian churches, within both the UK and the USA. However, in my experience the reason the chaplaincy in Canary Wharf has become firmly embedded is that it is truly multifaith. Interestingly we live in a globalized world where 80 per cent of the population adhere to a religion and there is much movement of the workforce between countries and indeed continents, which has an impact on employees’ expectations within the workplace.
Alongside the work of the chaplaincy in offering pastoral care and spiritual support, as a multifaith chaplaincy team we are committed to offer assistance in promoting the role and value of wisdom from a faith perspective, as it helps to bring a more integrated approach and give a wider context to values and ethics. In the long term, by helping employees to fully integrate their faith and work helps engagement with taking responsibility in team decisions and actions which benefits the company, its core business and the wider community. As chaplains, we understand from our experience as members of faith communities that human beings are relational and flourish more fully in a community or within a team environment than in isolation, and from within a community where wisdom is shared good behaviour can be learnt.
I also recognise that there is much anxiety around allowing religion within the workplace, and I discuss the main concerns in my book. I explore a wider definition of mission within faith and how fruitful conversations within and between religions can be possible, within a framework of hospitality and embassy. Often there is much misunderstanding about religion, or even between religions, and so mature and adult discussions are important in learning to respect and value each other, as well as living comfortably with differences of opinions.
Within my book I have tried to write a helpful account of the establishing and work of the Canary Wharf Multifaith Chaplaincy and the increasing role that faith plays within public life, which I hope will be read by both business and faith leaders.
Follow this link for more information or to buy a copy of ‘Multifaith Chaplaincy in the Workplace.’