Friday, October 13, 2006

Workplace Chaplains

Workplace Chaplains

Local chaplain Carol Hurley, employed by Marketplace Chaplains USA, makes bi-monthly visits to several businesses in Conroe, TX. On visits to Taco Bell, Choate Ceramics, and Cargo Blue Magic, Ms. Hurley gets acquainted with employees. The service she most often provides is “listening.”

Marketplace Chaplains USA Gulf Coast Division Director, Brian Horner, said Marketplace chaplains serves public and privately owned companies. Companies range from 10 to 43,000 employees, in the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Because chaplains cover a large geographic area, employees can make requests for out-of-state chaplains to visit hospitalized relatives or family in prison. With immediate attention to needs, Marketplace Chaplains live up to their description as “America’s Employee Care Program.”

Founder Gil Stricklin, for 23 years, has run the chaplaincy on a military model and has a three-fold goal for the company: 1) for the male and female chaplains to visit workplaces and regularly interact and build relationships with employees; 2) for the program to be proactive by effectively dealing with problems in the early stages, not just a “crisis response”; 3) to offer a broad range of services: home, jail, hospital visits, encouragement by phone or mail, and conducting weddings and funeral services, and to provide those services for all employees, immediate family members, customers and suppliers.

Pilgrim’s Pride, with 43,000 employees, is one of the largest companies contracting the services of Marketplace Chaplains. Pilgrim’s Vice President of Human Resources, Jane T. Brookshire, said, "People need to be cared for, and continually the biggest issues people go to our chaplains about are family-related issues, and those things that go on regardless of your faith."

A chaplain’s typical visit to the workplace does not interfere with an individual’s work, and if an employee desires a longer consultation, a time outside of work is scheduled. At job sites, the friendly contact and chats last only a few minutes, but build a trusting relationship based on care. Companies who avail themselves of chaplaincy services have experienced improved “morale and teamwork” and increased “loyalty and commitment” to company goals. Fraud and absenteeism diminish as well.

Marketplace Chaplains USA actively seeks new companies to serve, as well as hiring chaplains for part time work. They have a training program for prospective chaplains, but request that trainees have some type of ministry experience and have commerce experience, such as business savvy about production deadlines and payroll.

Local chaplain Carol Hurley says, “Sometimes we just listen and pray, sometimes we refer them to government or local aid.” Chaplains answer questions about what employees are seeking, and provide help to those who have no church affiliation. “Basically, we are there to provide support in any way we can.”

Brian Horner, Division Director, said in a phone interview that they welcome the participation of local churches because many employees are eager to renew their faith or find a church home. “Over a year’s time, hundreds rededicate their lives or start attending church for the first time.”

Chaplain Carol Hurley summed up the program, “The employee care program is a benefit that we pray helps them get through the bumps in life.”

A hearty thank you to Marketplace Chaplains USA and the help with all those “bumps in life,” the bumps we all have.

Businesses and prospective chaplains may visit

You may contact Cathy Messecar at

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