The nature and shape of British army chaplaincy 1960-2000
This thesis looks at the organisation and activities of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department between the end of National service in 1960, and 2000 shortly after the production of a study commissioned by the Adjutant General into the spiritual needs of the British army. It focuses on the work of full time commissioned chaplains whilst recognising that other forms of chaplaincy and spiritual care exist in the context of the British army. The evidence used, comes, for the most part, from documents produced by those involved in chaplaincy. It is argued in Chapter 1 that most contemporary interpretations of army chaplaincy have followed Burchard, Cox, Zahn, and Wilkinson, in seeing role tension as central to the interpretation of army chaplaincy. The early history of modern army chaplaincy is considered in Chapter 2. The thesis then investigates, in Chapter 3 to 5, how the various churches, and in particular the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, and the Methodist Church related to those who served in their name as army chaplains. It concludes that the period saw British churches disengage with the structures of chaplaincy as a result of the impact of debates about the use of nuclear weapons. The thesis shows, in Chapters 6 and 7, that, as the churches apparently became less involved, the military began to take a greater interest in the nature and shape of chaplaincy following the post Cold War reorganisation of the army in the 1990s. In Chapter 8 it looks at the changing understanding of the role of the Chaplain General as the interface between the churches and the Army. Writings by individual chaplains, notably their contributions to the Mid Service Clergy Course at St George’s House Windsor, are discussed in Chapter 9. In Chapter 10 it is concluded that overall there was a lack of consensus on the nature and shape of army chaplaincy during the period. This concluding chapter also argues that the failure to reassess the nature and shape of chaplaincy following the abolition, in 1946, of compulsory church parades, was a missed opportunity.