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  • Stuart Holley

Anna Chaplaincy launches in Hereford Diocese!

Reader Diane Bates was commissioned as the first Anna Chaplain in Hereford Diocese at a service at Dore Abbey on 3 October. Inspired by a talk given by Debbie Thrower to the diocesan readers at their annual meeting three years ago, Diane has worked hard to see the formal link put in place between Anna Chaplaincy and the diocese as a whole. She was commissioned by Bishop Richard Jackson at a service of Holy Communion. Diane was surrounded by many friends and prospective Anna Friends. Revd Sally Rees, Anna Chaplaincy lead for Wales, crossed the border from Wales to preach the sermon based on the story of the widow’s mite.

Dore Abbey is a magnificent Cistercian abbey church established in the ‘Golden Valley’ of south-west Hereford in 1147. Worship and prayer have been the lifeblood of the abbey for over 800 years, and although much of the building has been removed over the years, the remaining church continues to offer regular worship, and now an Anna Chaplain has been commissioned there.

The abbey is central to the very rural ‘pioneering’ Abbeydore Deanery where Diane will minister. The deanery comprises some 37 parishes, many of which are small communities in some of the country’s loveliest scenery, stretching in the west from the Black Mountains (the eastern range of the Brecon Beacons) to the River Wye’s spectacular valley to the east. Because much of the area is farmland, Diane is delighted to have the support of Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy which operates within the Diocese of Hereford, and Shropshire and Marches Methodist Circuit. This should help in seeking out the needy folk in more remote areas.

Originally from Northamptonshire, Diane moved to Hereford six years ago from Portugal where she had spent seven years supporting and working with her husband Bob, who at the time was a Church of England Chaplain in the Algarve and later in Porto. Since her return to the UK, Diane’s own ministry has been allowed to flourish and has culminated in this pioneering ministry. Their son Tom, also a priest, serves in South Yorkshire.

Diane feels she has been offering Anna Ministry in various formats already – working in a local care home for older people and offering prayer and coffee/chat time in various locations, but she feels that to have the Anna label on these and future events will give them ‘worth’ and encourage others to come forward, both to help her, and to become Anna Chaplains in their own locations. A friend and fellow reader based in the north of the diocese is already preparing to be commissioned Anna Chaplain at Advent.

Speaking a fortnight after her commissioning, Diane said:

‘So far my feet have hardly touched the ground. We have ladies knitting holding crosses and Christmas angels, making Christmas stockings and a “knitivity set”, a choir is also being put together to sing to our lovely folk at a local care home. It’s wonderful to behold!’



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