At a wonderful service on Sunday 28 January, a group of twelve Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends were commissioned for CaBiC (Cheltenham & Bishop’s Cleeve) Anna Chaplaincy by Anna Chaplaincy ministry lead, Debbie Ducille, at Holy Apostles’ Church, Cheltenham. Each of the Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends commissioned had taken part in the ‘Introduction to Anna Chaplaincy’ training course, run locally, in Cheltenham, by CaBiC coordinator, Gill Ford, and each one volunteers as part of a growing CaBiC Anna Chaplaincy team.
The service was led by Holy Apostles’ vicar, Revd Ashley Collishaw, and formed part of a regular Sunday morning service, which provided the opportunity for the whole congregation, as well as friends and family of those commissioned, to learn more about the work of Anna Chaplaincy nationally and the vision which Revd Brian Dunlop, chair of CaBiC trustees, has for its work locally. CaBiC was set up in 2019 as an interdenominational charity to develop Anna Chaplaincy in Cheltenham and Bishop’s Cleeve. The interdenominational nature of the venture was beautifully demonstrated at the commissioning, with Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends representing seven different Church of England churches, as well as the Roman Catholic, Methodist and United Reformed churches across the town.
Revd Brian Dunlop gave the talk, introducing Anna Chaplaincy, emphasising how its ministry is fun, rewarding, challenging, humbling and an immense God-given privilege. Referring to the well-known reading from Luke 2, Brian observed that the presentation of Jesus in the temple and his recognition as the long-awaited Messiah by Simeon and Anna is an amazing example of intergenerational interaction: a young baby; in all likelihood, a teenage mother; a possibly older father; and the two faithful and righteous older people, Simeon and Anna, all coming together in the temple. Brian stressed the need for the church, whilst understandably focusing on children and young people, not to fall victim to the same tendency as is often evidenced in wider society, where older people are often made to feel invisible.
Referring to Glenn Campbell, who, during his farewell tour following a diagnosis of dementia, was lifted up by the audience joining in with the lyrics when these escaped his memory, Brian encapsulated what Anna Chaplaincy is about: ‘We are there to help and to lift up; to dilute loneliness; to hold and renew people’s identity; to be present with them in their present; to advocate for older people where necessary; to bring joy and fun; to be a channel of God’s love.’
In seeking to fulfil those objectives in Cheltenham and Bishop’s Cleeve, the CaBiC volunteers are currently leading or helping with face-to-face services in eight local care homes, involved with taking regular Messy Vintage sessions into three care homes and running a monthly community Messy Vintage, supporting knit and natter groups and care home coffee mornings, as well as distributing a weekly written service to ten different care homes. They have also been instrumental in the success of craft projects at Easter and Christmas, through which thousands of knitted items have been distributed to care home residents and carers over the past few years.
The journey to commissioning in their own words
Click on each name below to read a little about how each of these twelve individuals came to be involved with the work of Anna Chaplaincy. May it encourage and inspire you.
Revd Brian Dunlop (Anna Chaplain)
Lois Wiltshire (Anna Chaplain)
Graham Ledger (Anna Chaplain)
Helen Wolfendale (Anna Chaplain)
Christine Wisdom (Anna Chaplain)
Gill Ford (Anna Chaplain)
Mary Padley (Anna Friend)
Howard Padley (Anna Friend)
Ann Lewis (Anna Friend)
Nicola Isaac (Anna Friend)
Mary Leonard (Anna Friend)
Revd Jennifer Wood (Anna Friend)