The guest of the RAF I was welcomed and escorted by RAF chaplains. What a great bunch they are too. And what an important ministry in the name of Christ and his Church.
I mention here three things they made clear. First, how marginalised they feel in relation to the 'normal' ministries of the Church, and sometimes how misunderstood. What was clear to me, even in a matter of 36 hours, was the profound impact for good they have on so many lives: service people, dependents, a whole community.
Second, they note how their ministry has changed shape in recent years. A key part of their role historically was to lead a worshipping congregation; now there is less of that (but not none of it) and much more involvement in a wider ministry of welfare, training (especially cadets) and co-ordinating various needs of the whole services community.
Third, all this is done ecumenically at a profoundly ecumenical level.
Lastly it is quite clear that the 'mindset' of people in the services is undergoing a change in light of being active in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some engineers I met have been out to A four times in the last 3 years. They are clearly weary and stretched. The context is affecting recruitment - which in turn puts more pressure on existing staff.
And in the midst of all this, alongside some stunning officers I met, are chaplains. So please pray for them, and their valuable ministry.