What is a chaplain?
As one student put it, a chaplain is a "portable pastor." Originally, "chaplain" referred to representatives of the Christian faith, but is now a widely used and accepted term to refer to men and women who represent other religions or philosophical traditions.
Chaplains are usually (but not always) ordained in a religious or spiritual tradition and work within a certain group or community without necessarily being attached to a church. They can be found in a multitude of places, such as hospitals, the armed forces, universities, and various other settings. The role of a chaplain varies depending on the community to which they belong.
Chaplains generally have a professional graduate degree beyond a basic baccalaureate. To become part of the Chaplains' Association, members are expected to fulfill the conditions required by their religious body, whether this be ordination or its equivalent through education or training.
Who are the chaplains?
The current membership includes Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Bahá'í representation. Among Christian denominations you will find representatives from the Anglican, Baptist, Brethren Tradition, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and United Churches.
What do the chaplains do?
The main function of the chaplains is to help members of the UBC community to engage with their spirituality and faith. The details of each of the chaplains' work are slightly different depending on the faith community that they serve. Most chaplains offer one-on-one pastoral/spiritual conselling and opportunities to engage in exploring in the faith tradition they represent. Most of the chaplains have student groups that include some combination of fellowship groups, meals, worship, faith exploration and training/study in the traditions of their own faith. These groups are a good way to explore some of the 'big questions' of life, as well as just have some fun and get to know your peers.
Besides serving their own faith communities, UBC chaplains cooperate on several fronts. They participate in international student orientations, Imagine UBC, the Wellness Fair, Christmas Dinner for international students (which was originally started by the chaplains), and Convocation. UBC Chaplains serve on various university committees and participate in special programs, as well as occasionally sponsor workshops and lectures, film festivals, and art displays. They also sometimes partner with others on campus to develop many programs on social and ethical issues.
Where do chaplains fit into UBC?
Chaplains are appointed by and accountable to their religious bodies. At the University of British Columbia, salaries and operational budgets for chaplains have been met entirely by their respective religious constituencies. The UBC Chaplains are a semi-independent extension of the Student Services of UBC, and serve under the Vice-President, Students.
Where can you find a chaplain?
The Chaplains' office is in Brock Hall room 1262, but most chaplains also have other spaces they use. If you are looking for a particular faith tradition, the contact information for each chaplain can be found on their individual pages. If you are looking for more general information (or aren't sure which chaplain offers what you're looking for), you are welcome to contact the Coordinating Chaplain, Craig O'Brien.
In addition to contacting the chaplains directly, you can find them on campus in a student residence near you. Each week, chaplains are available to help you develop your spirituality and give some thoughts on faith issues. Drop by one of the Chaplains in Rez booths for information on what's happening in the various spiritual communities on campus, to check out the interactive theme for the week, and to find contact information for any of the chaplains serving you at UBC.
- Walter Gage – Mondays, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
- Place Vanier – Tuesdays, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
- Totem Park – Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6:30 pm
- Irving K. Barber Learning Centre - Tuesdays, 11:30am-1:30pm.