Chaplains bring a caring and spiritual touch to the military, hospitals, prisons — and in some instances, the workplace.
Dallas-based Marketplace Chaplains USA is a leading provider of chaplains to corporate America. The company employs more 2,650 chaplains from California to Massachusetts.
Bob Condron, a Woodland Park resident, has been with the company for about six months. He previously served in the Chicago area both as a field minister helping in leadership training and team building for small business leaders and as a corporate chaplain with another company.
Condron, 58, moved to the Pikes Peak region about a year ago.
“I’d been out here many times before for conferences and such, and always wanted to relocate here,” he said. And with two adult children on the West Coast and two others in the Midwest, the Pikes Peak region offers him a central location.
He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 35 years.
Question: What are some of the issues you have dealt with as a corporate chaplain?
Answer: I have dealt with many issues related to stress in the workplace, stress in the family due to overtime and general life stress — those are the greatest number of contacts. Also employees being laid off and planning for the future; as well as marriage concerns. I have performed several weddings and helped with pre-marital advice. Lastly, we have made many hospital visits during crisis events for employees and their families.
Q: How does the whole thing work? Do corporate chaplains typically visit client businesses on a regular basis or are they just called in when an employee has an issue he or she wants to discuss? Or both?
A: We schedule weekly visits to the workplace and briefly build friendships with the owners and employees. We will meet with them in full confidence and it is entirely voluntary — no employee has to use the service; it is their choice. It happens that over a period of time, trust is built and the employees see the chaplain as a friend and welcome addition to the workplace. We are also available to their immediate family as the need may arise. This way we are an assistance program with a familiar face of a friend.
Q: Do you work solely in the Pikes Peak region or do you travel farther? Do you have a regular client or clients?
A: Mostly I work in the Pikes Peak region as I am only part time. The majority of our Colorado accounts are in Denver metro area. I have one regular client in the Springs area.
Q: Do you deal mostly with people of faith? Various faiths?
A: We deal with people of all faiths and some with no faith at all. As you can imagine, we do have skeptics and those who are not interested in our service. We respect that as well.
Q: What do you feel you offer as a workplace chaplain that a counselor might not?
A: We differ from counselors in that we are “biblical advisers” and share our faith values in the proper context. We may refer to a local counselor if needed. Many times employees need someone to be a sounding board and confidential listener. Many of our chaplains have significant life experiences to offer as we discuss personal issues with an employee or friend.
Q: What kind of training, if any, does a Marketplace Chaplain undergo? What is the typical background?
A: We all have work experience, life experience in ministry and marriage, and chaplain training as well as graduate level training in theology. I have nine years experience in sales, 16 years as a field staff minister with the Navigators and five years with Corporate Chaplains in the Chicago area. I am a masters degree candidate at Moody Bible in Chicago and am an ordained minister.
Q: What type of businesses and industries does Marketplace Chaplains serve?
A: We serve a broad range of firms from manufacturing, shipping and trucking, automotive dealers, construction and service firms. Many of our client firms are small to medium-sized firms. I serve a local affiliate of a regional firm with only 15 employees locally.
Q: Do you typically work alone or as part of a team?
A: We usually work alone unless a firm requires additional chaplains. We are a part of a regional group for support and we do have local area managers for referrals and team training. Naturally, the larger firms have chaplain teams.
Q: Is the use of corporate chaplains, such as Marketplace Chaplains, usually in addition to a traditional Employee Assistance Program or in place of them?
A: Each firm is different in terms of working with an EAP — many firms supply an 800 number for an EAP as needed but after using the chaplain model, many see the advantages of a local chaplain service.
The employees also benefit as the service is offered on a flat fee to firms based on number of employees served — there is no cost to the employee for any service, even weddings or performing funerals.
Questions and answers are edited for brevity and clarity.