Researching Roles and Religious Belief : 29 Nov, ONLINE

November 29, 2022 | 9:00 am 1:45 pm

A half-day exploring chaplaincy roles and how religion influences behaviour with input from Martin Walton and Shola Oladipo.

Martin Walton is professor emeritus of chaplaincy studies at the Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands. Born in the USA (Corpus Christi, Texas 1953) as a son of a Methodist minister, he received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the Colorado College. After two years in Berlin doing ecumenical work, he studied theology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands where he received his PhD in theological ethics. For four years he served as a minister of a local congregation of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands and for fifteen years as a chaplain in mental health care, before receiving a position at the Protestant Theological University. His primary research interests have been interpretations of chaplaincy care by patients, conceptualizations of the domain of chaplaincy and case studies in chaplaincy.

Martin will present on:

Session 1: Case Studies Research. The Dutch Case Studies Project in Chaplaincy Care was a five year endeavour (2016 to 2021) in which about 60 chaplains worked with academic researchers in six research communities providing detailed descriptions of encounters with others in care settings, prisons and the military. The overall research question was: What do chaplains do, for what reasons and to what ends? Besides formulating a concise answer to the research question, I will offer some insights drawn from the cases with regard to use of ritual, counselling and methodology, the role of aesthetic aspects and outcomes of care. I will then offer some general observations on the participating chaplains, and then turn to reflect on the method, format and challenges of the research itself.

 Session two: Roles of Chaplains. Much has been written in recent years on the functions and competences of chaplains. I want to address the question what roles might the chaplain fulfil in order to exercise those functions and competences in an optimal and facilitating fashion. After first considering some ways in which roles and images of the pastor have been addressed, I will propose four role formulations, each of a slightly paradoxical nature: expert learner, welcoming guest, accompanying artist and distinctive colleague.

Shola Oladipo is a PhD candidate at Coventry university. Her research paradigm centres on the role of Black Majority Church Leaders (BMCL) and health inequalities. Shola is also a church leader, registered dietitian and entrepreneur.  She oversees a community interest company – Food for Purpose; which supports ethnic faith communities with culturally relevant health solutions to support healthy living.

Alongside culture and traditional beliefs, health perceptions are influenced by religion and faith in the Black community. The Black majority church (BMC) is particularly prominent in South London, and studies show that Black majority church leaders (BMCL) are viewed as role models and decisions makers; instrumental in influencing health choices and behaviours. In her 2 sessions Shola will present findings from studies involving BMCL in South London

Session 1 – Perceptions of BMCL relating to health and causes of illness. A socio-cultural lens was employed to explore the perceptions of illness causation amongst participants in this qualitative study. Using the Common-Sense Model of illness perceptions to categorise data, findings from this study describe the views of South London based Black Majority church leaders (BMCL).

Session 2 – Response of BMCL to COVID-19 vaccine campaign in UK. Since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the UK, data from surveys have indicated greater vaccine hesitancy among people from Black African – Caribbean communities. This qualitative study examined the responses of BMCL in South London, with respect to the COVID-19 vaccine campaign. The Health Belief Model (HBM) theory was used as a framework to inform this study design to access constructs which are known to influence health behaviours related to vaccination.


08:45 Gathering

09:00 Welcome/Introduction/Opening Reflection

09:10 Shola 1

09:55 Short break

10:00 Martin 1

11:15 Break

11:25 Martin 2

12:40 Short break

12:45 Shola 2

13:30 Short Plenary

13:40 Closing prayer/reflection

13:45 Close

Note: If you are a Free Church Healthcare Chaplain, please contact Thandar at for a discount code.

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