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New Anna Chaplains commissioned at Norwich Cathedral

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For each of the individuals, the service represented a significant point in their journey of discernment and discovery as they have each responded to God’s call on their lives. Anna Chaplaincy is firmly rooted within a local area, each Anna Chaplain working closely with the leadership team of the local church in order to serve the elderly in each community.

The four new chaplains share a little of their story:

Margaret Blackshaw

“My Anna Chaplaincy journey began with a simple prayer, “What now?”, when wondering what post lockdown might look like for me. The next day my Vicar emailed, suggesting Anna Chaplaincy might “be a good fit for me”. After many months of careful consideration and prayerful discernment I became convinced God was indeed “Setting before me an opened door”. Following my Commissioning, I’m looking forward to my training and working with the pastoral team at St Stephen’s, to further this ministry to people in their later lives both within the church and the community.”

Margaret will be serving within St Stephen’s parish, in the heart of Norwich city.

Gaye’s journey

“My mother was in a residential care home for the last 18 months of her life and during that time no representative from any Church ever visited the home, and as my mother had been a regular Church-goer this left a huge gap in her life. It made me aware of the real need to take God’s word and His love to those who can no longer attend Church services. The seed was sown and I felt God was calling me to do something about it , and although I tried to ignore Him he didn’t give up. So, eventually with His help and with the support and encouragement of the Rector I now lead a team of people who each month take a simple service of worship into the four residential care homes in our parish. I know there is so much more to do, we need to reach all those elderly people in the community who are living on their own, offering them companionship and support, and walk alongside them on their spiritual journey.”

Gaye will be serving within the Yare Valley Churches parish.

Sue’s journey

“I first became interested in the Anna Chaplaincy movement when my husband and I were studying for a certificate in ‘Older People’s Ministry’ at Cliff College, led by Debbie Thrower, the pioneer of this ministry. In my previous existence as a Methodist layworker, the emphasis was always on family and youth work, perhaps often ignoring the contribution of older members of the church, and their evangelistic potential in reaching out to others of the same age.

“After reflecting on my own experience with Age UK, Cruse and my work with older people within the church and community, I started to think and pray about the possibility of becoming an Anna Chaplain myself. When I got home, I asked whether there were any Anna Chaplains in the Norwich diocese but no one seemed to know anything about them, so I almost forgot about it, moved house and got on with the lockdown and endless zoom meetings.

“It was during one of these that I mentioned that I was interested in becoming an Anna Chaplain and somehow my name was passed to Revd Peter Leech who had been tasked with forming the first group of Anna Chaplains in the Diocese! It was an ‘out of the blue’ moment that leaves me in no doubt that God often works by himself when he wants something done. The opening words of the commissioning service (which have followed me around for the past 20 years) seemed to confirm both this and my call to this ministry: ‘I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth. I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert’ (Isaiah 43:19)”

Sue will be serving within the parish of St Faith’s, Gaywood

Peta’s journey

“Having got to know the people who came to the weekly Forget Me Not Café (a café for those on the dementia pathway and their carers), I started to help and later, share leading the monthly Forget Me Not service. A short time of familiar hymns and a short Bible story. It was after sometime that Gaye mentioned Anna Chaplaincy. At first I wasn’t sure this was for me, but once I started the training, going in the village residential homes and the resumption of the Forget Me Not service, I knew this was where I was called to be. This led to Monday’s lovely commissioning service by Bishop Jane and surrounded by many Church friends.”

Peta will be serving within the Yare Valley Churches parish.

The training that is provided by the national Anna Chaplaincy team, alongside the supervision and support provided locally, means that each Anna Chaplain within the Diocese is equipped, empowered and released to support some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

For more information or to explore Anna Chaplaincy further, please contact the Revd Peter Leech.