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Mon, June 28, 2010
Praying With the Office Chaplain
By The Truthbook Staff
by Sue Shellenbarger
Marisol Corrales, an operations manager for a Dallas housecleaning service, doesn't attend church regularly or see herself as a religious person, she says. But she calls regularly on a workplace chaplain provided by her employer whenever she is worried about her family or stressed over problems on the job.
Ministering to a Different Crowd
Steve Hebert for The Wall Street Journal
Melissa Brannan is a chaplain for Tyson Foods.
Praying and talking with the Rev. John Salas gives her hope and peace of mind, she says; "I'm starting to be a bigger believer" because of him.
A growing number of companies are offering the services of chaplains in the workplace. Managers say many employees who wouldn't think of calling a therapist or an employee-assistance program will willingly turn to a chaplain. Executives at Tyson Foods Inc., which employs 120 chaplains serving a work force of 117,000, say they believe the service reduces turnover. Other companies contract with chaplain-placement services to handle workplace disruptions that managers can't.
Following the military-chaplain model, these roving spiritual advisers typically visit offices or factories weekly, greeting employees, hanging out in the break room, handing out business cards and meeting one-on-one with workers. But they're also on-call 24/7, so chaplains rush to hospitals, restaurants or homes on request, providing comfort and support free of charge to employees.
They perform weddings or funerals for people who have no one else to do so. And they pray with employees over problems from medical or marital crises to job loss, addiction and financial woes, holding the information in confidence. The Rev. Warren Wetherbee, a corporate chaplain in LaCrosse, Wis., says he sometimes helps employees make a budget if asked, or sits with them while they decide to cut up their credit cards.
The chaplain services reflect a growing openness about spirituality in the workplace and an increasing desire among workers to express their faith at work. Some 74% of Americans say faith is becoming more important in their lives, based on a 2008 survey of 1,004 adults by the Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., research company. Although membership in churches and other religious organizations has been falling for years, 71% of U.S. adults say they have developed their own slate of religious beliefs, rather than accepting the tenets of a particular faith or religious group.
The chaplains say they don't proselytize or push any particular beliefs. Instead, they spend most of their time encouraging and calming people, offering emotional support or providing referrals to social service agencies or employee-assistance programs. If employees want to talk about religion, the chaplains do so, but only if asked. "We're going in as humanitarian care-givers. If I'm helping somebody, they don't care if I'm Baptist or Buddhist," says Gil Stricklin, chief executive of Marketplace Chaplains, a nonprofit Plano, Texas, provider of 2,455 chaplains in 425 companies. Voluntary expression of one's religious beliefs at work is permissible under law, but employers can't legally pressure employees to take part in prayer or devotional services.
See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.
The article goes on to explore faith in the workplace and types of programs that are developing.
Link to External Source Article
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