is the healthcare chaplaincy ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia - Presbytery of Western Victoria
is based in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat, but also also supports people & churches across Western Victoria
provides pastoral care to people in Ballarat's healthcare and aged care venues
provides a full-time Chaplain Coordinator to grow, develop and maintain the programs and activities of Chaplaincy
provides 24/7 On Call pastoral availability should the need arise
is served by volunteers from a range of Ballarat's Uniting Church congregations
covers Ballarat Base Hospital and St. John of God Hospital, Ballarat with pastoral visitation
covers many of Ballarat's Aged Care venues (BHS and privately run) with pastoral visitation and monthly church services
The story of healthcare chaplaincy in Ballarat.
The early days...
Chaplaincy has been operating in various formats since 1978. In the late 1970's the Rev. Deacon Bev Pratt was employed jointly by the Ballarat Base Hospital and the Uniting Church. Bev worked as the Chaplain to the hospital, providing regular pastoral support to patients, their families and staff. With a listening ear, a compassionate heart and almost access all areas, Bev provided this care to the hospital community for over 20 years.
After Bev's retirement, the hospital chaplaincy ministry took on a few iterations. Eventually, the Base Hospital moved in a slightly different direction pastorally, choosing to employ a Pastoral Services manager, covering a range of needs within the hospital. The Uniting Church chose to still provide a healthcare and aged care chaplain and did so in a part-time capacity. The Chaplain was a sole-practitioner (or should that be soul-practitioner?) until the late 2000's.
A new style...
In the early 2010's the Chaplain - Martin Prewer - transformed the ministry from being one of a sole-practitioner to training and supporting a team of volunteers. These volunteers - known as Assistant Chaplains - had pastoral responsibility for a place, such as one of the hospitals or an aged care venue, and would visit their 'place' on a weekly basis. Martin's role now added an element of co-ordination, training and support.
In 2012, Andrew Shearer-Cox became the new Chaplain Coordinator, and in 2013, the position became full-time, with thanks to funding support from the closure of Uniting Church congregations, such as Ballarat West (St. Cuthbert's), Pleasant Street Uniting Church & Wendouree Uniting Church. Since this time, the Chaplaincy ministry has seen the number of volunteers grow, the number of venues covered grow and the variety of ways Chaplaincy seeks to provide pastoral support in the Ballarat community.
Covid-19 and Chaplaincy (2020 & 2021) ...
Like most areas of life and society, Covid-19 has changed the way Chaplaincy relates with people. While some programs are in hiatus until face-to-face connections can resume, Chaplaincy has been able to maintain its connection through online Chapel Services and other video content, and remaining available for End-of-Life pastoral support.
2021 and beyond...
In 2021, the Chaplaincy ministry has entered a new phase, with the employment of newly ordained Minister of the Word - Rev. Lyall Reid. Lyall will be with Chaplaincy in a 0.5 FTE capacity until 2023 when he returns to the Royal Australian Navy as a Chaplain. While Chaplaincy longs for the time we can engage with people meaningfully face-to-face, we are developing online content and resources that will get us through until then.
BRHC acknowledges the contribution of the former congregation of Pleasant Street Uniting Church in the creation of this website. BRHC operates on primarily on Waddawarrung Country. We pay our respects to their Elders - past, present and emerging.