Chaplain is On Fire
Revd Monica Arnold’s career in the Church of England has begun in a blaze of glory.The curate from Bloxwich, who entered the ministry over a year ago, has been handed a Citizen Recognition award for her chaplaincy work with firemen.
Her duties are split between general work around the parish churches of Bloxwich and an innovative chaplaincy role with the West Midlands Fire Service. It is part of a scheme organised by West Midlands Fire Service and the Diocese of Lichfield.
“Fire Service chaplaincy is a national thing” says Revd Bill Mash of the Black Country Urban Industrial Mission, a charity partnership of four church denominations. “We now have chaplains in seven fire stations in the region, and the aim is for every station to have their own chaplain.
“The community puts its fire-fighters in difficult and dangerous situations and then subjects their actions and decisions to detailed scrutiny. Chaplains are there to complement other welfare provision that the fire service makes, picking up on the concerns that this gives rise to, to be a listening ear.”
Or “Tea, toast and Jesus,” as Revd Monica puts it. “People in church often don’t understand what being a chaplain is about. It doesn’t translate into bums on seats on a Sunday. It is about being an expression of Christ’s love to people in their workplace. Faith is about relationships and vulnerability.
“There are four fire service watches based at Bloxwich Fire Station plus an ambulance.
"When I began, most of my time was spent getting to know the crews. Now we know each other well, there are no no-go topics in the office”.
But being supportive to staff isn’t what has earned her recognition and an award from Walsall Borough Council. The nomination was made by the Fire Service for her work with the wider community. The Fire Service currently spends a lot of time in the community on preventative work.
“We’re all about making people safe in their homes,” says Station Commander John Kempson. “There are many people who won’t open their doors. Monica is an important link who meets and works with community groups, spreading the Fire Service message and enabling us to make contact with those who need us to fit alarms – both smoke and community/panic alarms which we fit in partnership with Social Services.”
“She comes into the station every week, and is always willing to offer a compassionate ear to anyone. We inducted her in and all Watches have received her very well. I can’t praise her enough really, we’ve a very good working relationship.”
Describing the award as an acceptance of the church within the community, she said: "Chaplaincy is not about the person offering the role but the people who are open to receiving and embracing what the role can offer a community. It was a great privilege to receive the award on behalf of the Bloxwich Fire Station community.”
On Watch..Revd Monica Arnold is pictured with the 'red watch' Bloxwich firemen