Over at PlainViews, the volunteer-chaplaincy debate continues. The Rickety-Contrivances-of-Doing-Good Gold Star Award goes to Mark Grace (how's that for an appropriate name?), the Director of Pastoral Care & Counseling for Baylor Health Care System, who says:
"I'm the director of pastoral care in a large, faith-based health care system in which spiritual care volunteers have increased the reach AND the quality of pastoral care that our chaplains provide to the patients and family members served by the 16 hospitals in our health care system. Furthermore, repeated research in a wide variety of helping disciplines that offer services MOST like those which chaplains offer has demonstrated conclusively that, for about 80% of individuals in need of care, nonprofessional helpers are as effective as professional helpers.Hurrah! You go, Mark Grace!
"I cite this statistic to every new group of volunteers who train in our system –- as I did when I developed a large volunteer program in a regional public hospital in the East.
"I do so for two reasons –- one is to affirm their capacity to successfully carry out the divine call we share with them –- to offer themselves in compassionate service to the spiritual needs of others. The second is to stress to them how MUCH they assist our chaplains to increase the effectiveness of their ministry by focusing on the approximately 20% of individuals who desperately need the services of a professional chaplain."
While other professionals in the debate have spoken in favor of volunteers, this is one of the most straightforward and least defensive responses I've seen. Grace also says quite bluntly that the anti-volunteer contingent is driven by fear.
You can read his full response, and others, here.