Spiritual Awareness within a Religious Frame: A 'Responsive Evaluation' of One School's approach to Chaplaincy

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This book chapter was originally published as:

Fitzsimmons, P., Lanphar, E. & Hill, B. (2013). Spiritual awareness within a religious frame: A 'Responsive Evaluation' of one school's approach to chaplaincy. In W.van Moer, D. Celic, & J.L. Hochheimer (Eds.), Spirituality in the 21st century: Journeys beyond entrenched boundries (pp. 165-174). Oxford, England: Inter-Disciplinary Press.

ISBN: 978-1-84888-257-7


130103 Higher Education

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This chapter details the findings of a ‘responsive evaluation’ of one Christian school’s implementation of a specialised chaplaincy program that sought to integrate the concept of ‘Christian values’ within its school life. While the investigation revealed that program as a whole was not successful, it did uncover that it could be much more efficacious if students and staff had a much greater sense of ‘buying into the program’. This notion of ‘buy in’ had several facets and was grounded in the need for both groups to become engaged in a ‘spiritual’ experience that would enhance their religious experience. These two facets are not always wedded in the same experience, especially in a school setting2 and as was the case in this instance. While religion is typically seen as an institutional experience3 and the spiritual more aligned as an individual experience4 the findings of this project reveal that the key conditions for a melding of the two lie in the development of time and opportunity for incorporating an evolving cycle of ‘deep reflection, personal reaction and corporate exploration of all responses.’ Thus, in many ways the religious school experience could move from an institutionalised transmission of values to a multi-dimensional melding of diversity and inter-subjectivity. In regards to this site and context, spirituality and chaplaincy could perhaps then no longer be intellectualised, or attempted to be developed through a transmission model or solely contained within religion.


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