Workplace Chaplaincy a Ministry of Friendship

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If you visit the John Morrell meat packing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., you may find racial tension, a cacophony of languages, a high turnover rate, and 3,200 immigrant employees who are often separated from all things familiar to them.

That is the setting where Rev. Carl Bruxvoort serves as a part-time chaplain. Bruxvoort, a pastor at Heartland Community Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, spends 20 hours a week with plant employees, who represent 75 countries and more than 100 languages.

Part of Bruxvoort’s work is helping with new employee orientation. The plant’s management prohibits him from proselytizing, but he is authorized to encourage biblical work attitudes, appropriate use of monies, and healthy interracial relations as part of the orientation.

“It is a ministry of Christian friendship,” said Bruxvoort. “[The plant workers] are often lonely.” He encourages workers to be involved in a church connected to their language and culture.

John Morrell & Company wants Bruxvoort in the plant because when their workers connect with church and community they tend to stay around longer.

Bruxvoort also makes hospital visits and offers counseling and prayer for families in crisis. “I am here to help,” he explained. “They just keep coming; we have more than we can do.”

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