Chaplaincy Innovation Lab receives $1.5 million to study demand of chaplains in U.S.

March 12, 2021

The Templeton Religion Trust has granted the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, in partnership with Gallup, Inc., a $1.5 million grant to study the demand for chaplaincy and spiritual care work in the United States, according to a BrandeisNOW article. As part of the three-year study, the lab will disseminate a national survey and conduct interviews to learn more about individuals in the general public that engage with spiritual care workers. The study will produce numerous papers and academic articles and will provide a framework for the future of the chaplaincy field. 

“The project will also allow the Lab to map how chaplains are trained and where the gaps are between supply and demand,” according to the BrandeisNOW article. There is currently debate in the spiritual community on how chaplains should be educated, according to the BrandeisNOW article, including endorsements and certifications, as well as continued support during their careers. Looking at national data in how chaplains are being utilized in the United States will help to inform the training of future chaplains by focusing on the demand of chaplains in areas, rather than the supply that currently exists. 

“We think chaplains and spiritual care providers are going to play increasingly central roles in religious leadership in the coming years,” founder and director of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab Wendy Cadge (SOC/WGS) said in a press release. “The public has become more aware of their work since the COVID-19 pandemic as they cared for patients, staff and family members at a distance in hospitals across the United States.”

An advisory group of 30 stakeholders in “spiritual care, the institutions where chaplains work, and theological education” will work with the lab throughout the study to bring together individuals of various backgrounds and belief systems, according to a BrandeisNOW article.

“[The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab] CIL has quickly become an important part of the American landscape in preparing educators and chaplains to facilitate cooperative, constructive engagement across deep differences while enhancing the spiritual welfare of individuals, and society,” Vice President of Grant Programs at the Templeton Religion Trust, W. Christopher Stewart said in a BrandeisNOW article. “[Templeton Religion Trust] TRT supports CIL because chaplains embody the freedom of conscience, religious literacy, and humility that our world needs to engage others with empathy and patience, thus improving the overall conditions of societies and strengthening the vitality of religions.”

Grace Tien will be joining the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab as a postdoctoral fellow to assist with this project, according to the BrandeisNOW article. While completing her Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University, she was recently awarded the 2020 best student paper prize in economic sociology and entrepreneurship by the American Sociological Association, according to a press release

This is the second grant that the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab received since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lab also received a $750,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, according to a previous Hoot article

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab was founded in 2018 as a place “to support chaplains in healthcare, the military, prisons … workplaces, colleges and universities, and other settings in recognizing and responding to the changes in American religious and spiritual life,” according to their website

The Templeton Religion Trust was chartered in 1984 as a global charitable trust by Sir John Templeton and “supports projects as well as storytelling related to projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion,” according to their website.

Editor’s Note: Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg ’21 is a research assistant at the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.

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