Southern Rural Chaplaincy

Rural Chaplains are people with a heart for bringing the love of Christ to those scattered across rural and remote areas

Rural Chaplaincy is a new ecumenical project for Otago-Southland which will eventually cover our whole wide region.

When Jesus described his ministry in Luke 4:18-19, he did so in the words of Isaiah:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’


As part of the Body of Christ, the Church, that is the mission of Rural Chaplains as well. We are there for anyone, interpreting words like “poor,” “captives,” etc figuratively as well as literally, since people can be poor in hope, be captive to financial problems or loneliness, be blind to the way forward, be oppressed by fear, or any other of a range of situations and conditions. Rural Chaplains are there to care, listen, be a presence, build relationships, trust and – where appropriate – direct people to practical support. In doing so, we are both acting as Christ’s Body, and recognising Christ in the other, regardless of their beliefs.

Chaplains must earn any trust they are given. We follow the general rule of only going into the emotional and spiritual areas of people’s lives that they invite us into – never barging in, never even knocking obtrusively, but waiting for a door to be opened.  If people invite us to talk of God, we will, willingly. If people invite us to pray, we will, willingly. If they do not, we will care for them regardless, and receive their own views and beliefs gently and respectfully. People must feel completely safe with us. Our offering of care must never have strings attached, because we believe in a God of grace.

In 2022 we licensed our first Rural Chaplain, the Rev’d Barb Walker, to Southland. You may see Barb chatting to people at a rural show, visiting farmers, enjoying a local pub or sharing a cuppa with someone in a cafe. You’ll recognise her because of her hi-viz jacket with “RURAL CHAPLAIN” on the back. It’s not subtle!

So we’ve started with Southland. Our hope is that the team will grow and be able to cover Central and Waitaki over 2023, and that churches of all denominations will be able to work together on this important ministry.

Are you living in Southland, and would you like to make contact with a chaplain?

Email Barb on

Rural Chaplaincy Handbook

Click here for a copy of our current Rural Chaplaincy Handbook. It is a constant draft at the moment, as we learn and update and adapt our plans and thoughts. Any constructive comments are welcome!


The Rev’d Barb Walker

Lead Chaplain


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    Training Day Nov 25th 2023: Grief and Loss

    Our next RC training day, will be hosted by the Salvation Army in Winton on Nov 25th. Topics will include dealing with grief and loss, and grounding ourselves in prayer and in the presence of God. It will also be a great opportunity for all of us to get together again, to worship and pray together, and to share, as we continue to seek the Lord’s guidance and blessing on this important venture. Those who have already started on this journey, and those who are interested in finding out more about it are all welcome. The day will run from 9.30am to 3.30pm, and please bring your own lunch.

    Our First Training Day

    More than fifty people came to Gore for our first Rural Chaplaincy Training Day. It was a wonderful time with amazing speakers. One of them, Graham Redding, has shared his powerpoint slides with us. Look at them again, and think about signing up for more at Otago University chaplaincy courses.

    Would you like to donate towards the travel costs of Rural Chaplains? Click below to be shown how.


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