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Corporate chaplain role opens doors for pastor to reach past church wallscomment (0)

June 4, 2009

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

Several years ago, Doug Green preached a sermon about Christians’ duty to reach beyond the church walls in ministry. As he spoke, he felt convicted by his own words.

“I realized I was perhaps the guiltiest in the crowd of not ministering beyond those I served as pastor,” Green said.

He sought a ministry opportunity that would intentionally take him outside the walls of the church and found Marketplace Chaplains USA.

The Dallas-based organization was founded 25 years ago with the goal of providing corporate chaplains to American workplaces. Based on the military model of chaplaincy, it employs both male and female chaplains from 80 denominations and all major ethnic groups.

Green, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Pansey, in Columbia Baptist Association, has been a Marketplace chaplain for more than three years and now serves as an area team leader in south Alabama, working with companies like Pace Industries in Auburn and Pilgrim’s Pride in Enterprise.

Though his work with the organization began as a way to make a little extra money while his children were in college, he has found great satisfaction in ministering to employees facing all of life’s joys and challenges.

“The main requirement of a chaplain is to have a loving heart,” Green said. “We are there to give the employees someone to talk to, someone to walk with them through a problem — those of any faith or of no faith.”

Chaplains may be called on to visit an employee or family member in the hospital or conduct funerals or weddings. More often, they may simply talk with the employees about what is going on in their lives.

“When employees show up for work each day, they bring the knowledge and skills that equip them to perform their designated tasks,” said Art Stricklin, vice president of public relations for Marketplace Chaplains. “They also bring many other things, some of which are good, many of which are negative, all of which will impact performance on the job in one way or another.”

The concerns are as varied as the employees themselves — broken relationships, problems with children, grief, substance-abuse problems, financial stress. Whatever the issue, the chaplain is someone the employee can talk to without fear of judgment from fellow workers or his or her boss.

“The beauty of Marketplace Chaplains is that it gives the employee a step away from the business,” Green said. “We are not there as an advocate for the client company. Everything is completely confidential.”

He was quick to say the chaplains are not trained counselors and do not present themselves as such.

Green said he often is shocked by how many people he meets who do not have a meaningful church connection. So the chaplain present in their workplace and available by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week may be the only person they can turn to who will listen and be compassionate, he noted.

Green said Marketplace Chaplains is constantly recruiting businesses and chaplains. It looks for people with experience in pastoral counseling, including ministry in churches, nursing homes or jails.

Since the chaplains serve businesses of all sizes, the goal is to reflect the makeup of the company with an individual chaplain or team of chaplains who can serve the entire employee population.

“Marketplace Chaplains is a pretty well-kept secret here in Alabama,” Green said. “But there are a lot of Christian businesses out there we would like to reach and a lot of pastors who might be interested in this ministry.”

For more information about Marketplace Chaplains USA, visit mchapUSA.com.

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