Latter-day Saint Prison-Chaplains Conference

by John Smith

Attendees of the chaplains conference

The 25th and 26th April 2022 was a landmark event in the growth of chaplaincy in the UK and Northern Ireland. Fifteen Latter-day Saint Prison Chaplains met together for the first time in person for a two-day conference, generously funded by Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS).

The Conference was presided over by Elder K Roy Tunnicliffe, Area Seventy, who oversees Chaplaincy in the UK and Ireland and acts as the Church’s Endorsing Agent (who verifies that the chaplain is in good standing, and has gained the necessary qualifying education and experience). He was accompanied by his wife Sister Vanessa Tunnicliffe.

Chaplains were fortunate in hearing from a variety of speakers. Sister Vanessa Tunnicliffe’s address was titled, 'Don’t underestimate the resilience of sisters in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!' She stated that men and women chaplains must meet the same criteria and have the same abilities to succeed in their role. Female chaplains bring unique qualities and perspectives to ministry that complement and strengthen what males do, and complete what males sometimes fail to do. All this makes them a necessity in chaplaincy teams. In her presentation Sister Tunnicliffe quoted President Nelson from the 2018 General Conference, 'No one can do what a righteous woman can do.'

Jonathan Berry, Manager for UK & Ireland Church Welfare & Self Reliance Services, also addressed the conference, assisted by Elder and Sister Cook. With the aid of Church published materials, outlines were provided of the addiction-recovery programme, self-reliance courses, and the ‘Ministering in a Crisis’ guide.

Elder Roy Tunnicliffe was the concluding speaker. He encouraged the chaplains to use the tools with which they have been equipped at this conference. He went on to stress the correct use of the name of the Church and its importance. Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby man can be saved. The ‘name’ of Jesus Christ is really another way of saying the enabling and redeeming capacity centred in the character, grace, power, and qualifying goodness of the Son of God, and only His ability to purchase and save us. Church Chaplains were instructed to, 'Go in your true identity!' Elder Tunnicliffe also spoke about the covenant obligation of caring for the poor and needy, and how chaplaincy helps us to keep that covenant. Referring to the Hebraic term 'hesed' (covenantal love) he stressed how the Father continues to reach out to all who covenant with Him when they stray.

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