Chaplaincy is the exercise of the public role of ministry, whether or lay or ordained to and within a particular community. It is therefore different from Ministry in Secular Employment where ministry is not part of the paid role and is exercised informally through a positive relationship to work. Chaplains may be attached to a school, hospital, university, prison, market, shopping centre, army, police, fire-service etc. Predominant in their role is that of pastoral care. Others in academic environments may require teaching and intellectual gifts.
The Canons of the Church are England reflect its historic commitment to parish ministry in continuing to require those who wish to serve as chaplains to do so either after or concurrent with serving a curacy. This provides a good base for training and should ensure that all ministers are experienced and competent in discharging parish duties. Nevertheless this is not the only base and flexibility is required in developing initial and ongoing training for people called to chaplaincy ministry.
Chaplains should be prepared to work ecumenically.
Many Chaplains work in inter-faith situations. Where the chaplaincy is small, Christian Chaplains may represent a broad range of spirituality issues.
Chaplains have to be prepared to engage in complex ethical and social issues.
Chaplains are often paid by the institutions where they work and must be prepared for dual accountability and assessment to it as well as to the church.