Fellowship Chaplaincy began in the late 1970s through the collaborative vision of Chaplain Phil Philips, Stu Silvester of Bramalea Baptist Church, and General Secretary, Roy Lawson, as they sought to provide the “ministry of presence” and demonstrate the love of Christ in the community.
In 1979, Bible studies were being held in five different locations at the Toronto Pearson Airport. The following year, regular Sunday Chapel services were started in Terminal 2. By 1981, a similar ministry began at the Vancouver Airport, followed by Halifax International Airport (1985), and later Montreal Airport (1993).
After many fruitful years of growth, Fellowship Chaplaincy director Phil Philips retired and, in 2001, James Turner became Director of Fellowship Chaplaincy, a post he held until 2006. Under his leadership, the ministry began to take further shape, adding structure, specific training for chaplains, and caring for policy needs. There was a clear focus to expand the ministry into Western Canada and to add chaplains in diverse ministries in addition to the airport ministries.
More recently, a significant re-visioning process took place in 2012-2013 under the stewardship of a Chaplaincy Vision Team led by Fellowship President Steve Jones. A new directional document (2012) and new Principles and Policies Manual (2013 and updated in 2021) defined some significant changes to the future of Fellowship Chaplaincy. This is an exciting and God-honouring future as Fellowship chaplains continue their ministry of presence while an extension of the local church in often hard-to-reach or closed community settings and workplaces.
From 2012-2022 Fellowship Chaplaincy grew from 27 to 136 chaplains in 14 different areas of chaplaincy ministry. In recent years Fellowship Chaplaincy launched a quarterly newsletter (Chaplain's Log), and in addition to Equip videos for training. They also host enrichment gatherings, provide formal seminary training, and host monthly zoom prayer gatherings. In 2021, a strategic plan Encounter Prayer Plan: 1x1x1=1 was introduced with the hopes that our chaplains might make an even greater impact in the lives of people wherever they live and work.
Today, our chaplains not only reach those who are institutionalized in hospitals, long-term care, or correctional facilities, but they also minister in government and community-based services such as police and fire departments, educational facilities, the military, outreach centres, and much more.