Chris Cullwick is currently one of two full time chaplains with York Workplace Chaplaincy.
After serving as a curate in Nottingham, working alongside a young J John in schools ministry, Chris came to York to serve as a curate at St Michael le Belfrey in 1984 and then in 1987 went on to be vicar at St Andrews in Huntington, York, joining the York Workplace Chaplaincy in 2002.
The York Workplace Chaplaincy was started in 1994 with Nestle. Whereas the ministry grew quickly to include other large employers, Nestle have remained a major contributor to the running of the scheme. Terrys and the Railway Carriage Works are examples of companies who have been very supportive of the scheme, but with the change in the business landscape have disappeared from the city.
Today, partners in the scheme include City of York Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Monkhill Confectionery Ltd, Nestle UK Ltd, Norwich Union Life, Portasilo Ltd, The Retreat, York Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (YACRO) & York College.
Chaplaincy works naturally and optimally in a working environment where the employer fosters a supportive culture of care for their staff.
There is one other full time chaplain Colin Hockridge, and a further part-time chaplain will be added to the team shortly – Jim Harding. There is also a growing number of associate and voluntary chaplains and YWC is keen to see the team grow to provide chaplaincy in many more workplaces.
Chris Cullwick says “The grand vision is chaplaincy in every workplace”. This goal can only be accomplished by recruiting and training a larger team of volunteer chaplains – an aim which is the YWC’s next step.
Fundamentally, Chris and colleagues offer independent and confidential support in the workplace. In times of bereavement, stress, accident, redundancy and anytime when workers are under pressure, YWC are on hand. They also offer access to a professional counselling service through the York Workplace Counselling Network and work closely with other agencies in the city. For example Chris is also co-chair of Family Matters York while Colin is chair of the York Alcohol Advisory Service.
Chris sees the traditional church being based on the model of where people live – the parish system. He recognises that today many people measure their identity and their sense of belonging much more as part of where they work. YWC go to where people are rather than waiting for people to come to them.
Chris’s commitment to going to where people are is shown by his chaplaincy to York City Football Club since 1996. Chris is aware that when he has the opportunity to write a message in the match day programme he is touching the biggest congregation in York! His involvement with City of York Council and his chaplaincy with several of the city’s ancient Guilds means that he is well placed to speak into the civic life of the city. He is also part of the city centre team based at All Saints Pavement.
Chris’s wish is that YWC doesn’t remain York’s best kept secret, but that instead it might receive full prayer support and backing from the many churches of York.
Chris Cullwick has been involved in One Voice from its earliest days, being one of the original movers & shakers. From the first mission endeavours of a televised Billy Graham link in the Minster, a week of meetings with Donald English at the Barbican Centre and the formation of a One Voice choir, Chris has left fingerprints all over.
Today, One Voice fully endorses his work and that of his colleagues in the York Workplace Chaplaincy and still values his involvement.