My Three Shirts
Chris wearing his Camouflage Shirt & Chaplain Sash
Our special guest speaker last week was Chris Purdie, a Leading Shepherd and Principal Army Chaplain at Burnham Military Camp.
Married to Sylvia and proud father of three boys, Chris has been in a ministering role for thirteen years and has been based at Burnham for the last five of these.
1st Shirt
“My first shirt is my Army T-Shirt which means I still have to participate in and pass all fitness requirements” explained Chris.  He has also found this a great way to meet and get to know all his fellow Army comrades.
One of his primary tasks is to run services every Sunday.  As Burnham also doubles as the Defence Force Prison, he also gets the opportunity to meet those who are currently incarcerated who especially enjoy the opportunity to have some time out plus it also allows Chris to share who he is and what he offers.
“Most of the other time I am involved in a wide range of camp activities which gives me additional ways to get to know a wider range of camp residents” he added.
2nd Shirt
The 2nd shirt Chris then showed us was his camouflage shirt which includes showing that he is also an Army Officer paid by the Govt. 
Chris then explained that he started his working life in social work and spent a lot of time supporting youth before deciding that chaplaincy seemed an appropriate next step.
“My job” explained Chris “is to see that soldiers get the spiritual care they need”.  This sometimes involves calling in other faith specialists to help the diversified range of people to works with.  Chris also works in closely with other support personnel which helps provide a more comprehensive support service.
With respect to service, Chris went to Afghanistan in 2008-09 as a non-combatant.  “I was lucky that things were very quiet at that time and ended up spending a lot of time with the medics” he added.  Chris felt it was a very useful experience to be overseas and in the field as it was quite different to camp life.
In looking back at his main role, Christ added that a key part is liaising with other professionals to ensure the people he supports get the best help they can.  “Many people wait too long to ask for help” he explained “and this gives us the opportunity to intervene in a more timely and effective manner.”
3rd Shirt
The final shirt, Chris explained, is his Army Jacket.  In addition to his three shirts, Chris also wears his preaching outfit.
“I am especially proud of my sash”, he smiled, “which I wear at special ceremonies and events.”  It is nationally recognised to signify that the wearer is a Chaplain.
Returning to the morning services he runs which start at 6:00 am, Chris noted that many military people are quite spiritual by nature which many members of the public might not realise.
“Chaplains have been in the Armed Forces since the 1880s” Chris noted “and a large part of our role has always been to listen to their problems and support them as they consider solutions.” 
What really helps, he explained, is that the army sees people as its most valuable resource and that supporting those them through injuries or challenges is critical.
John thanked Chris for his interesting and informative presentation and we wished him well for his ongoing valuable work at Burnham.