Anna Chaplaincy is a national Church of England ministry for supporting older people emotionally and spiritually. Anna Chaplains are named after the widow, Anna, who appears with Simeon in Luke’s gospel; both are good role models of faithful older people.
The vision is to see an Anna Chaplain in every small and medium sized community in the country, and for the Anna Chaplain name to become synonymous with spiritual care for older people.
In a service at Norwich Cathedral on Wednesday 1 February, seven people were commissioned as Anna Chaplains and two as Anna Friends. The Revd Canon Madeline Light led the service and the group were commissioned by Bishop Jane.
The Diocese of Norwich now has its first male Anna Chaplain, John Taylor. He explains why he felt called to Anna Chaplaincy.
“As a Reader whose ministry is largely centred upon older parishioners, Anna Chaplaincy is both a natural fit and an exciting opportunity to further reach out to younger carers, both professional and voluntary.”
Margaret Gray is now an Anna Chaplain. She says;
“I was beginning to feel that I would benefit from additional training in the spiritual care of the elderly when it was suggested that I should contact the Anna Chaplaincy team. Soon after that, a local dementia home asked me to lead services and I attended two unconnected meetings, where on each occasion, I found myself sitting next to an Anna Chaplain. The series of events felt like too much of a coincidence to ignore God’s prompting!”
Joy Kinsley used to work in a care home, and felt that Anna Chaplaincy was a natural fit too.
“I needed to do something to help in these difficult times, as I have always loved being with the elderly. I felt Anna Chaplaincy was something I was being called to do.”
Collette Linford says it’s a great honour.
“I love working with the elderly, I know I have been called to support this ministry.”
Mary Ives says her call to Anna Chaplaincy began in 2020.
“As churches were somewhat restricted at the time and many were still closed, on that Sunday morning I tuned into the Church of England Service, which involved Debbie Thrower and highlighted Anna Chaplaincy. I had never heard of that before, but listened intently. Once home I had a conversation with a diocese development worker. One thing led to another and finally I realised that this was an area which God was calling me to.”
Sue Loades explains why she felt called to the ministry,
“The reason I feel called to this ministry is a growing love and appreciation of the older members of our society. The stories of their lives, the wisdom they have acquired alongside the physical limitations, often feelings of loneliness and awareness of their own mortality.”
Lis Hayden says pastoral care with older folk has always been present in her life.
‘Thy Hand Oh God has guided’ “Fast forward through bereavement, a cancer diagnosis and treatment , away from a classroom environment to phoning an elderly lady during lockdown who told me her life stories through her cupboard cleaning, revealing a different episode each week. It was a blessing to me as much as for the lady concerned. Then to a care home specialising in dementia this January; producing and directing Jack in the Beanstalk, a pantomime for all the residents to be involved. ‘One church, one faith and one Lord’ is pastoral. That’s out in the community, in a conversation, in a care home”.
Sue Shillam reflects on what the Psalmist says;
“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength has gone’ Meeting the spiritual and pastoral needs of older people is a good way to offer the love of Jesus and share the message of the Gospel especially to those who have never heard. I applaud the Diocese in this new focus on those in later life especially in this Pastoral Vision year and I am excited to play such a small part and become part of a wider team.”
If you would like to find out more about Anna Chaplaincy, please do get in touch with Gaye Hailstone or Revd Canon Madeleine Light here: Anna Chaplaincy — Diocese of Norwich