A Day in the Life of a Railway Chaplain

In Britain:

Railway Vicar Dr Richard Cook at Manchester Airport train station

My nickname, among those I work with as a railway chaplain, is the “Flying Vicar”. Being an ex-railwayman myself, I take it as a compliment. Usually my former colleagues can be depended on to come up with something so much worse.

Why “flying”, I’ve often asked? “Because you’re here, there and everywhere,” they reply. And that just about sums up the 37-hour week I’m contracted to do, plus the many extra hours I put in each and every week. I roam all over the place, from my home base in Preston, covering the whole north-west railway region.

I am one of 22 railway chaplains working for the Railway Mission. It was set up in 1881 to support everyone involved in the railways, but especially the staff. We are funded now by the train operating companies.

Our motto is “Meeting People, Meeting Needs”, and that is exactly what we do. If I were to say, “what shape is a church”, most people would draw something square or rectangular or cross-shaped. But I’d draw a circle. It’s what the Lord says: “Go ye out into all the world.” The church isn’t a building. It is about being there, being available, saying to people in times of trouble, “You’ve got a friend.”

I’ve a lot of ground to cover…

Rest here.



2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Railway Chaplain

  1. This sounds like interesting work. Sets in motion some trains of thought! (sorry, couldn’t resist). Meeting people where they are (physically, mentally, emotionally). . .the heart of chaplaincy, in my book.

  2. Had an amusing encounter with this gentleman. Currently work for TPE as a conductor, and previously for Northern Rail.

    Stood at the coffee machine in Southport messroom, this gentleman (didn’t know his identity at the time) was operating the confectionary machine. His chosen item, initially, didn’t drop, causing a vaguely audible tut. Knowing the machine and the slight pause before it drops your prize, I said “have faith”. The chosen item dropped, the gentleman turned to me and said “You’re right, I ought to have faith. Hi, I’m the railway chaplain!” and promptly shook my hand 🙂

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