Spotlight: Jacky Wise, Chaplain of St John’s Foundation

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  • Spotlight: Jacky Wise, Chaplain of St John’s Foundation

As a community charity founded on Christian principles, an important service St John’s Foundation provides its beneficiaries is access to two Chapels, the Chapel of Michael’s Within in Bath’s Chapel Court, and Magdalen Chapel on Holloway. Both are open to the public, whether they are seeking a place of worship or need a quiet place to reflect, and both are overseen by the Reverend Jacky Wise, whose route to becoming a Chaplain is slightly unusual.

Jacky joined St John’s Foundation as Chaplain in 2019, to provide religious and pastoral support to St John’s almshouse residents, its staff, and the wider community. In her role, she manages three chapels, leads worship, conducts visits to residents and, on top of that, she uses her creative flair to plan the annual calendar of services. With the support of her Pastoral Assistant, Debbie Kendall, Jacky provides an essential service to staff and residents.

After working at the BBC as a broadcast journalist for 15 years, in 2005 Jacky decided to make the move to a role at Citizen’s Advice in Stoke-on-Trent, to support the children of asylum seekers and refugee families. During her two years at Citizen’s Advice, she found working with those who are marginalized and in need of support extremely fulfilling.

For Jacky, faith has played a vital role in her life throughout adulthood, and whilst still working at Citizen’s Advice, felt a calling to ordained ministry. After two years as a curate, she worked as an Associate Vicar for a large parish on the Wirral for eight years. Then, one day, sensing the need for a change, she came across the advert for the role of Chaplain at St John’s Foundation.

“The advert jumped out at me. Although I had never lived in Bath, I felt like I was being called to this role. Since working here as Chaplain, I have found so much joy in making a difference in people’s lives, sharing the presence of God, and working to support my community.”

Whilst Jacky had a religious upbringing, attending Church of England primary and secondary schools, she truly found her way to Jesus in her late twenties after meeting friends who encouraged her to explore her faith more deeply.

“To me, faith is knowing that God is with you constantly, and He provides a foundation upon which it is possible to cope with all the stuff that life throws at you. If you ever need assistance and guidance, you can find comfort through prayer and be certain that God is listening.

“Finding and understanding my own faith and relationship with God is a continuous, life-long journey. My advice to someone exploring their faith is to speak to someone who has experience of God and is willing to listen, to guide but not necessarily provide answers, and this does not need to be someone involved in the Church.”

Jacky’s work within the community has evolved significantly since she started the role. She holds shorter services for staff, to make them more accessible for people who have full dairies and are juggling other commitments. She helps to organise many events, such as Harvest Supper, a Pilgrimage Walk between Bath and Glastonbury, and events at Christmas time aimed at local school children.

She is also heavily involved in the wider local religious community, including various clergy initiatives and events to support people throughout the city.

“I’m very fortunate to have met so many amazing people in this city. One of the highlights of my ministry is being invited to take part in leading a small new monastic community called Still Waters.”

Acknowledging the significant amount of work involved in her role, Jacky says:

“My greatest challenge is juggling the pastoral and administrative parts of my role. Fulfilling the needs of all the people I serve is central to my role, and having a Pastoral Assistant to support me with this is hugely helpful. I really appreciate spending time with people and enjoy offering hospitality to help people feel welcome in the community.

“I also ensure I take care of my own wellbeing so that I can better support those around me. I use sport as a tool for my mental health and  I enjoy taking quiet time for myself, outdoor swimming and spending time in nature. Having time with friends and family is very important to me.”

Jacky is looking forward to the last quarter of 2023 which will involve an abundance of Christmas services, bringing endless amounts of joy to the community.

“I love being Chaplain at St John’s Foundation and I do feel I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives. I’ve been welcomed into this community with such grace and generosity, and the support I have received from all those around me really shows how committed St John’s Foundation is to changing people’s lives for good.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be working with an organisation full of kind and loving people who are so dedicated to their community. Their passion has supported my own, and together, alongside all our partners, it is possible to make real positive change for those who need it most.”

To find out more about St John’s Foundation’s religious community, click here.