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 University Multifaith 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 UBC 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, 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 counselling 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, chaplains cooperate on several fronts. They participate in international student orientations, Imagine UBC, the Wellness Fair, and Convocation. Chaplains 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?

Opportunities for religious observance are available under the guidance of Chaplains representing a variety of faiths. Chaplains are an important spiritual resource for students, but they are not UBC employees and are completely separate and independent from UBC. They are accountable to and financially supported by their own religious constituencies, and they do not act under the direction or authority of UBC.

Where can you find a chaplain?

The University Multifaith Chaplains Association office is in UBC Life Room 1303, 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.

Chaplains COVID-19 Safety Plan

UBC Chaplains has placed safety measures in the workplace in order to keep both staff and students safe, following public health directives.

See the plan

Mission statement

The University Multifaith Chaplains Association makes a vital contribution to the well-being of the UBC community by addressing the holistic aspects of a “place of mind,” engaging people in:

  • Faith and spirituality
  • Meditation and emotional healing
  • Friendship and community
  • Citizenship and leadership
  • Intercultural dialogue and collaboration