Chaplains serving the UK military personnel will continue to be trained by the Church in Wales, after the Anglican province won a contract to provide training for the next five years. Britain’s Ministry of Defence awarded the contract to St Padarn’s Institute, the Church in Wales’ new training institute. The Church in Wales has been training British military chaplains since 2001, but has to re-bid every five years. It beat off stiff competition from some of the UK’s top colleges and universities.
“To be chosen as the UK institution supplying high-level theological training for the MOD bolsters our post-graduate work, and keeps us at the forefront of an important area of Christian mission,” St Padardn’s Principal, Professor Jeremy Duff, said. “We are delighted that our MTh Chaplaincy Studies Course covering areas of military ethics, contemporary mission, reflective practice and the broader areas of faith, belief and spirituality, is recognised as the best in the country and the first choice for the Ministry of Defence moving forward.
“Military Chaplains are agents of transformation to those parts of society and to those parts of the world that the traditional church struggles to reach. They can be found in some of the most dangerous parts providing spiritual support, pastoral care and moral guidance. They make a significant difference.”
Major Andrew Latifa has served alongside troops in Iraq and Afghanistan during more than 10 years as an Army chaplain. He says it is “a very privileged place to be.”
He said: “I have seen soldiers with tattoos of Jesus on the cross, which probably didn’t mean much when they had it done, other than it being artistic. All of a sudden, when they are in combat, that tattoo becomes central to their lives – they see the significance of Jesus and prayer becomes important.
“I’ve seen lads with texts of scripture which they’d written out in thick pen on canvas adhesive and they would put it on their bags and would quite happily talk about how they would read those words and say a prayer for their partner at home and just think about what they were doing that day.
“When the busyness of everyday life is stripped away you are left with what really matters – life and death – and it is then that people see there has to be more to life and faith becomes important. In a place of conflict people start to entertain the thoughts that they wouldn’t dare to when there’s a World Cup on TV or the sun’s out and the family is going to the beach.
“Thoughts of God aren’t all that alien anymore because they understand that this world doesn’t have all the answers, that here are limits to what people can do and that there has got to be something better.”