Conference of Buddhist Chaplains from the UK and US




held at Balliol College, Oxford on 15th and 16th March 2014



Conference Photos


Acharya Modgala Louise Duguid - Chaplaincy Conference Report



The event is sponsored by Oxford Buddha Vihara, Buddhist Healthcare Chaplaincy Group and Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service at Northeastern University, Boston


The event provides a unique opportunity to share experience between two different parts of the Buddhist world on how each have started to develop Buddhist Chaplaincy and on its benefits to both chaplains and to those receiving our support and ministry. The overall aim is to forge a collegial and spiritual relationship between UK and US Buddhist chaplains and chaplain communities.

Objectives of the conference

• Develop a greater understanding of the different approaches taken to Buddhist chaplaincy in healthcare and higher education contexts within the UK and US. This includes training, accreditation, and our understanding and execution of the role
• Explore possibilities for advancing the training and competency of Buddhist chaplaincy in these contexts
• Consider skilful goals and strategies for advancing the field of Buddhist chaplaincy within these contexts
• Enhance the commonality in our explorations of Dhamma in the context of chaplaincy
• Reflect on how to maintain religious integrity and spiritual authenticity as Buddhists playing service roles in predominantly non-Buddhist populations
• Celebrate the courage and compassion driving our efforts



Background and context


Recent history of UK Buddhist Chaplaincy


The first significant steps to establish Buddhist Chaplaincy took place as long ago as 1985 when Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation was founded. For more than 28 years Buddhist Prison Chaplains from across a wide range of traditions have made Buddhism available in prisons in Prisons throughout England, Wales and Scotland including providing an aftercare and advisory service for prisoners after release. More recently, Buddhist Chaplains volunteering in a variety of healthcare settings has become a growing field. Along with other world faiths, endorsing bodies have been established in order to respond to the wishes of the NHS for a greater contribution from those with pastoral care training able to offer religious and spiritual care to those of faith and of no faith. As other sectors also recognize a need for chaplaincy in a multi-faith context, so we are responding by offering our services in areas as diverse as Higher Education, the Armed Forces, Police and Fire services. Various organisations are now providing chaplaincy training to be better able to provide support to others who are suffering or struggling with the stresses of life, work and relationships manifesting within these different contexts.


Recent history of US Buddhist Chaplaincy


Over the past several decades, chaplaincy in the U.S. has been transitioning from a second or post-career pursuit of predominantly Christian ministers to a first-career vocation for individuals from an increasing number of faith traditions. As in the UK, a first wave of Buddhists offering and receiving these services occurred within the prison system, marked by Fleet Maull’s founding of the Prison Dharma Network in 1989. The past ten years have ushered further categorical changes in the landscape of Buddhist chaplaincy in the U.S. Programs now exist that focus on Buddhist training for chaplaincy work. The New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care and the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, founded in 2006 and 2008 respectively, are two pillars of such training. Developed progressively over the past ten years, the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School was formally founded in 2011 with the help of a multi-million dollar grant. Paired with the expansion of training for Buddhist chaplains, the prevalence of Buddhists in chaplaincy roles has also increased as has the number of Buddhist chaplains certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains. The publishing in 2012 of The Arts of
Pastoral Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work was a watershed moment in the field, celebrating work done by Buddhist chaplains in diverse settings including hospital, hospice, university, armed forces, and prison environments.


Mary Braybrooke - The Gift Of Life


Harrison Blum - Conference Handouts


Revd Dr. Andrew Todd - Buddhist Chaplaincy in Public and Multi-faith Contexts