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For the first time, Church holds conference for chaplains in the United Kingdom

The two-day conference provided instruction and inspirational messages for prison and hospital chaplains, as well as those in chaplaincy leadership throughout the U.K.

For the first time, a conference for chaplains endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

The conference, held May 2-3 in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, provided instruction and inspirational messages of faith and support for prison and hospital chaplains and those in chaplaincy leadership throughout the U.K.

The Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division holds an annual training for chaplains in conjunction with each October general conference, according to ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

The idea to host a similar conference in the U.K. was suggested by C. Todd Linton, director of the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division, according to a news release.

Elder Robert F. Schwartz, an Area Seventy, spoke at the conference. He was joined by former Chaplain Richard Peter Roggia, who serves as the associate endorser of the Church’s Military Relations Division, and Tamara Harris, the Church’s chaplain service manager.

Left, Andrew Blackwood speaks with Elder Robert F. Schwartz at the first conference for Church-endorsed chaplains in the United Kingdom.
Left, Andrew Blackwood speaks with Elder Robert F. Schwartz, an Area Seventy, at the first conference for Church-endorsed chaplains in the United Kingdom in May, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church has selected and endorsed chaplains for more than a century. While the job requirements and duties of each assignment may vary, a Church-sponsored chaplain’s basic charge is the same: to serve people of all faiths by helping them meet their spiritual needs, especially during difficult times.

Information about Latter-day Saint chaplains and the different types of chaplaincies is available at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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Messages for the chaplains

Elder Schwartz focused on the theme, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

A session on suicide was taught by Chaplain Jay Marshall, the Church’s national faith adviser to His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and the chair of the U.K. and Ireland Chaplaincy Council. Marshall is also a member of the U.K. and Ireland Advisory Committee to Chaplaincy established under the leadership of Elder K. Roy Tunnicliffe.

Another speaker at the conference was the Rev. Andrew Teal, a chaplain at the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College. He reflected on “Ministry Moments that Began Badly and Ended Sublimely.”

The Rev. Andrew Teal speaks with Tamara Harris at the first conference for Church-endorsed chaplains in May 2023.
The Rev. Andrew Teal, a chaplain at the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College, speaks with Tamara Harris, the Church’s chaplain service manager, at the first conference for Church-endorsed chaplains in May 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Rev. Teal suggested asking the question: “What can we as chaplains, teachers, ministers do to make our place of chaplaincy a safe and welcoming place, where everyone is welcome and supported in finding and worshipping God?”

Elder Allen Blake Boatright and his wife, Sister Miriam Hawkes Boatright, who serve as senior missionaries for the Church, assisted in organizing the conference. Elder Boatright is also a retired U.S. Army chaplain who was endorsed by the Church.

“When someone is in a dark and seemingly hopeless place, the gentleness of the Spirit can pierce that darkness,” Elder Boatright said. “It doesn’t take much light to make a lot of difference in a dark place.”

Other topics discussed during the two-day conference included the following:

  • Professional development.
  • Spiritual renewal.
  • Updates in the Church Handbook regarding military relations.
  • The chaplain candidate process.
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