Saturday, 21 August 2010

International Prison Chaplains Association conference, Stockholm.

Long time no blog!

Sometimes it´s quite hard to blog about prison chaplaincy - there is so much that is very interesting indeed but can´t really be said publicly! However I am currently somewhere so cool I´ve got to share it.

From 20 to 25 August it is the International Prison Chaplains Association conference in Stockholm and I am incredibly privileged to be here. It is particularly special as it is the organisation´s 25th anniversary. We arrived in time for tea last night and our first session was great to be part of. Quite often prison chaplains can feel quite isolated in their work, especially in smaller jails where there isn´t a big team. So it was cool to be with prison chaplains from Oceania, Asia, Africa, North, South and Central America as well as Europe. (I am the only chaplain from Scotland). Singing Amazing Grace with two or three hundred other prison chaplains is an experience I wish I could bottle to produce in the winter on a fed-up day.

There was a difference in price of 100 euros to get a single room so of course I opted to share. I was quite nervous about who I would be "twoed up with", as the prisoners say, but have been reflecting on how much more anxious must prisoners often be when they are made to share a cell with someone who may be dangerous/volatile/up to no good in some way. My Hungarian "cell-mate" seems lovely by the way.

Last night at tea I sat with a Canadian chaplain, two Cubans, two Africans and an Englishman; this morning at breakfast I sat with a Catholic chaplain from New Zealand and a French Canadian chaplain from Quebec. This afternoon I will be attending workshops - I´ve chosen one by the UK´s own Baaroness Vivien Stern and also one by Bruno van der Maat of Peru.