Taking Church to Work

“There are two times in life when people need you – when they need you, and when they need you.” At least, that’s the view that Boe Parrish of Edmond’s Corporate Care holds. Parrish is a corporate chaplain, and he’s not alone.

In fact, people across the nation and around the world are doing the same work. That work is caring.

Corporate chaplaincy, while still a very young and unique field, is growing. Most corporate chaplains have years of ministry or management experience, and in many cases, both. These thousands of caring people stand together helping people deal with one irrefutable fact – life happens. And when life happens, they are there.

Boe Parrish founded Corporate Care. Every day Parrish and his staff help corporations and employees deal with major life issues and day-to day-troubles. Among the issues dealt with by chaplains are depression, marriage, troubled children, and addiction.

The goal of corporate chaplains is to be proactive. Life is full of seasons. If one lived long enough on this planet, one would experience all of them – loss, joy, sorrow, victory, and others. It’s the chief goal of corporate chaplains to walk through life’s seasons with people; to experience it with them. “You might lose your way if you try to go through life alone,” says Parrish. The point, he adds, is to “get through it, not around it.”

The motto of Corporate Care is “Your people – our passion.” They care for roughly 20,000 individuals and 2,000 companies across the nation and around the world. Throughout the week, chaplains from Corporate Care meet with Human Resources representatives, department heads and individuals. They invest themselves in the lives of people, finding out who’s sick, and finding those is in need of assistance, or those that simply need to talk. The employees are very receptive to the chaplain’s presence. In fact, they welcome it. What drives these chaplains? Parrish said simply, “we care.”

In the autumn of 1987, Boe Parrish was District Sales Manager for US Sprint Communications, based in Kansas City. Parrish had eight years of ministry experience by this time. He found the transition to providing care in a corporate setting easy when his own employees began coming to him with their personal problems. He lent a helping hand and a listening ear to the people who needed him the most. From that experience, the seeds of Corporate Care were planted.

Child and elderly care, psychiatric care, and addiction collectively comprise a $600 billion per year industry. As part of trying to relieve the pressure of those costs to employees, Corporate Care started a program called the Benevolence Fund.

For decades, the trend in the corporate world has been to view employees with personal problems as burdens – people to be ignored, reprimanded, and in some cases, terminated. Unfortunately for such companies, the cost of hiring and training new people far exceeds the cost of helping those people through hard times. These companies, Parrish says, “Shoot themselves in the foot and don’t know it.”

So, what does the future hold for corporate chaplaincy? For Corporate Care, there’s no advertising budget. All new business is acquired through word of mouth, CEO to CEO. Parrish believes that actions truly do speak louder than words. He calls this the “ministry of presence” or “just being there.”

Looking back on how far the industry has come, Parrish says, “It really has made a difference, and it’s certainly been worth the effort.” The corporate world is already starting to accept chaplains with open arms. When companies start really looking out for their employees, life and business can truly change. “It’s a big deal, changing lives,” says Parrish. “Good things can happen – divine, wonderful things.” 

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