How Anna Chaplaincy began
Chaplaincy to Older People began in Alton, Hampshire, in 2010. There are now dozens of Anna Chaplains working across the country – spreading in recent years to other parts of Hampshire, the south coast, Kent, West and East Sussex, the Midlands and Northumbria.
As people heard about Anna Chaplaincy, others who had been doing similar work asked if they might join the network too.
All these men and women are, in turn, having an influence on others. Many lay people and ordained ministers are putting into practice what they have learnt while shadowing Anna Chaplains and other network members, and attending the growing number of training events.
The first Anna Chaplain, former broadcaster and Licensed Lay Minister Debbie Thrower, works for The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) as the founder and pioneer of this work, while remaining a part-time Anna Chaplain in Alton. BRF is responsible for the promotion and development of Anna Chaplaincy, which sits squarely within all that the charity does to inspire, equip and enable people in their churches and communities.
What’s special about the name ‘Anna Chaplain’?
Anna Chaplain was chosen for its echoes of Anna, the widow and faithful older person who, together with Simeon, recognised the baby Jesus as the Messiah and the fulfilment of God’s promises.
The Anna name reinforces the fact that much of the work is with those who have suffered loss and bereavement. It is a hope-filled ministry which highlights the tradition of older people having prophetic voices, and which recognises that many older people have wisdom to impart to younger generations and life lessons to share when it comes to spiritual formation. Appropriately, Anna, the name, means ‘gift’ or ‘grace’.