An Anna Chaplain for Hull - the first in York Diocese
A warm welcome to our new Anna Chaplain in Hull, Sue Hopcroft. We first met Sue when she enrolled on a week-long Certificate course in Ministry among Older People at Cliff College in Derbyshire. That was just before the pandemic began. As you'll see from her story, in her own words, it has been a busy time for her despite the lockdowns.
Sue was commissioned on September 9, 2021, in her local church in Hull, St Margaret’s Church, Longhill. The service was conducted by Canon Patricia Wick, Pioneer Minister for Longhill in Hull, East Yorkshire. Sue is the first Anna Chaplain in the York diocese. We look forward to hearing more about her ministry in coming months. Here's her story, showing how the seeds of a calling to this work were sown when she was a schoolgirl:
'I think I first knew the Lord wanted me to help elderly in my teens. I watched mum who was a Salvationist (Salvation Army) help people of all sorts.
Then I was about twelve, I'd just started senior school and I was a girl guide. Coming home from church I met a Mrs James, she was attempting to clean a cooking pot. I can't remember how I ended up in her front garden with her, cleaning a pot, but that was the start of a friendship. I'd go and help her chop wood or tidy her garden and we sat chatting and eating home made cakes.
The helping heart was born in me. I helped other elderly neighbours and then when mum died of cancer I was angry with God but I still helped people. I wanted to be like my mum.
I also thought of women in the Bible, like Ruth, how she helped her elderly mother-in-law. I've always had a passion for older people.
I worked as a Auxiliary Nurse in Colindale. While every nurse dreaded the elderly wards I loved them. I worked in a elderly people's home in London, too. They had their own flats or bungalows.
Then I found the Lord again and rejoined the Salvation Army. I started as a volunteer hospital chaplain and, yes, I was back visiting older people. I started work, volunteering at MHA/ Methodist Homes, as a chaplain, and working with the elderly in my local community.
I was sent to Cliff College to do a course in ministry among older people and that's when I first heard about Anna Chaplaincy in action. It dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's for me. Through Anna Chaplaincy I've found a way of helping older people in my area, to listen, chat and help them.
As a chaplain, I have volunteered throughout Covid, only taking time off when I got Covid myself, but even then I was on the phone to people because this pandemic has made them feel very lonely, even more so than usual. It has seen lunch clubs and activity groups shut. But this was where they got their companionship from, so a phone call just to ask whether they were okay, and did they need anything, was important. It's not about whether they are a Christian, or go to church, it's about helping them.
I have helped a Muslim lady whose family lived away. We crossed the bridge of faith and we both found mutual ground in God and prayer. I learnt so much from her about different beliefs but in the mix we had the same love of God and we had the same things we were frightened about.
Anna Chaplaincy has given me so much. I hope to have other Anna Chaplains around Hull helping more older people. Thank you Anna Chaplaincy for showing me a very beautiful programme, with so much to offer.'