The Revd Diane Lofthouse has worked at the British Library in Boston Spa since she left school, but four years ago she shocked some of her colleagues by turning up to work in a clerical collar.
She says, “After I was ordained I asked if I could minister to staff in my own time as an unofficial chaplain, and I was delighted they agreed. Initially some cracked jokes about it to cover their embarrassment, but they then began to ask questions, and I’ve found myself involved in some deep theological discussions. It’s wonderful that the British Library acknowledges the fact that faith is an important factor in people's lives and that faith in the workplace is advantageous to the business."
Diane, who is currently the invoice processing manager, adds, “Wearing a clerical collar at work means there’s an open invitation for people to ask questions. People will often stop me in the middle of the canteen for a variety of reasons: they might be exploring Christianity, or want to know about the Church’s view on stories in the media. Sometimes they have personal issues such as bereavement or life might have just got on top of them and they want a listening ear, and sometimes a chat is all they need to give them the strength to carry on.
“I’ve also been involved with the Christian Fellowship Group at work and taken various services, including the annual Carol Service. It’s a huge privilege to be able to bring my faith into work and to be able to represent the church in the heart of a working community.”
Diane, who is also Associate Priest in Moor Allerton and Shadwell, is a Non Stipendiary (ie self-supporting) Minister. She says, “I think the Church should protect the mix of stipendiary and non-stipendiary roles, you need people in the parish but my role also enables a unique form of outreach.”
Later this year Diane will be leaving the British Library to take up a new role as Chaplain at St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds.