‘My name is Jane Peeler and I originally became interested in Anna Chaplaincy four years ago after hearing Debbie Thrower speak at a licensing ceremony in Leominster Priory.
‘A year later I was also licensed as a reader (or licensed lay minister – LLM) in the Hereford Diocese. During that time I continued to pray about Anna Chaplaincy, and earlier this year I completed an Anna Chaplaincy training course led by the Rochester and Canterbury Diocese.
‘On Sunday (28 November 2021), at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, the bishop of Hereford, Rt Revd Richard Jackson commissioned me as an Anna Chaplain. It was a lovely, special service with Revd Prebend Simon Cawdell, family and friends.’
Revd Sally Rees, Anna Chaplaincy church lead in Wales, was there representing Anna Chaplaincy, and spoke a few words on the ministry Jane would be undertaking. Sally also left Anna Chaplaincy leaflets in the hope of creating more interest.
Jane says: ‘Older people represent, as does any age demographic, all that is good and not so good. However, their value as people as well as the gifts they have, I believe, are underplayed, often not recognised and sadly sometimes dismissed as irrelevant. I have come to realise that older people, especially those with specific needs (and their families), were suffering the effects of social and spiritual isolation even long before the pandemic.
‘As a reader, it has been a privilege to be with people through my funeral ministry. This has opened up, naturally, a space for faith conversations so that people didn’t feel awkward when talking about getting older and the challenges that can bring.
‘One of the things I feel strongly about is joy; as we age, we continue to be funny, interesting, intelligent, spiritual and compassionate – leading lives that are worthy of being celebrated and valued, not only after death but during life.
‘Over time the relationships I have built up with different people and groups have developed and deepened. With God’s continued help and guidance and His blessing for the work involved, I believe I can make a positive difference as an Anna Chaplain.’
A very warm welcome to Jane (writes Debbie Thrower). We look forward to hearing more about her ministry as it develops! Diane Bates, a fellow Anna Chaplain in the diocese, was commissioned in October at a service at Dore Abbey, which we wrote about at the time – Anna Chaplaincy launches in Hereford Diocese.