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Kent Workplace Mission,
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ME20 6PN

A Thought from a Chaplain

A series of thoughts and reflections from the Chaplains and Trustees of KWM

Monday 20th May 2019

Penny C

Penny Culliford, Chaplain, YMCA Thames Gateway

Walking alongside

For me, Chaplaincy means being available to walk alongside everybody, whatever their journey and whatever their faith or worldview. The month of Ramadan started last week. It is a time when Muslims fast (abstain from eating and drinking during the hours of daylight), read their scriptures, pray and give to charity. The fast begins before dawn and continues into the evening, so no food or water is consumed for many hours. Christians will often fast during Lent, but it is usually a partial fast, mainly giving up something they enjoy. Most Muslims who are fasting don't draw attention to it, but might struggle, especially during lunchtimes, when they would normally eat with friends, families and colleagues.

The YMCA is an inclusive organisation and I have encouraged our staff to support our Muslim members, residents and staff during Ramadan, checking how they are getting on, remembering not to offer food during daylight times and encouraging them as they fast and by praying for them. This is showing love and caring for our neighbour.

We have also offered our Chapel, which is always open, if anyone who is fasting would like to spend some quiet time there instead of the café where people usually gather. God speaks to people in these quiet times and through acts of kindness and compassion, wherever they are on their journey. I have learned a lot about commitment and dedication from Muslim colleagues and residents, who endure discomfort during their fast.

This quote from American activist, Sarah McBride seems to sum it up,

"In my view, the best of humanity is in our exercise of empathy and compassion. It's when we challenge ourselves to walk in the shoes of someone whose pain or plight might seem so different than yours that it's almost incomprehensible."

Penny Culliford

pennyCulliford@ymcatg.org