Anna Chaplaincy emerging across the Diocese of Norwich

Published on: 17 August 2021

Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) is quoted as saying – “mission is seeing what God is doing and joining in”.

For many years, parishes have faithfully ministered to the elderly in the parish. The Covid pandemic saw churches develop creative ways of supporting those who were isolated, alone and anxious. One of the things we are realising is that the local church has a crucial post-pandemic role to play in supporting the elderly in every community. Anna Chaplaincy is one way that we can continue to minister to the elderly.

Anna Chaplaincy is a nationwide initiative which works in partnership with the Bible Reading Fellowship. 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. Anna Chaplaincy is a personcentred ministry for people of strong, little or no faith at all. It involves visiting older people wherever they may be living, whether in residential and nursing homes, sheltered housing, retirement complexes or other private homes. The emphasis is on spiritual support but, clearly, people’s practical struggles will also play a part in their overall wellbeing. Anna Chaplaincy is intended to complement and run alongside, rather than replicate or replace, ministry already being done in churches. Anna Chaplains are licensed to the local parish and are locally focused.

Over the past few months, we have seen a growing number of parishes engage with Anna Chaplaincy and we have identified an opportunity to create a diocese-wide network. An Anna Chaplaincy steering group has formed to lead the local initiative.

For more information or to explore Anna Chaplaincy further, please contact Peter Leech (chair of the steering group)

St Stephen’s has been exploring how Anna Chaplaincy can complement the range of ministry they offer. The Revd Madeline Light writes:

“Margaret Blackshaw, a member of the St Stephen’s congregation, was aware of many people caring for family with dementia with very little understanding of the condition. She arranged a couple of workshops with a well-qualified speaker. However, the pandemic stopped the workshops from happening. When the possibility of becoming an Anna Chaplain with a special concern for the spiritual care for older people came to our attention earlier this year it seemed an obvious way forward for her and St Stephen’s. We look forward to the training the Anna Chaplaincy offers to equip us to serve our city centre community better.”

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