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  • Debbie Thrower

Anna Friends meet in virtual space

Updated: Jan 14


There are now hundreds of Anna Friends, volunteers, working with their Anna Chaplains to support the ministry in care homes and community groups across the country. Some of them met together for the first time online today and as well as hearing how Anna Chaplaincy began and what steady growth there has been since the concept became part of BRF in 2014, we worshipped together in a crafty way!


Our Messy Vintage duo Katie Norman and Jill Phipps helped us worship via the story of Nicodemus in John's gospel. We made images of dandelions and seeds – that blow where the wind sends them – to illustrate Jesus giving the Pharisee a lesson in the Holy Spirit and its characteristics.


The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

Chaired by Anna Chaplaincy Church Lead, Julia Burton-Jones, the two-hour session was the first of two this January to bring Anna Friends together. 'I felt it went well and was hopefully the first of a pattern of sessions tailored to our wonderful Anna Friends and other volunteers working alongside Anna Chaplains,' said Julia.


Complimenting Katie and Jill on their coaching in the delights of Messy Vintage, she said: 'It is amazing how you can run a craft session so effectively on Zoom and give everyone a feel for being at Messy Vintage in person.'


Armed with glue, card, coloured foam and cotton buds, we made our pictures. We thought about the action of the Holy Spirit on our own lives, and how Messy Vintage helps older people and staff worship in some of the most challenging settings - such as dementia care homes and secure mental health units.


Jill waved a hot-off-the-shelf copy of the pair's new book about Messy Vintage, being published this month: Messy Vintage: 52 sessions to share Christ-centred fun and fellowship with the older generation (BRF, 2020).


There's a discount on copies for Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends working in towns and villages across the UK. Today they shared how they are 'keeping on, keeping on' despite the Covid-19 restrictions in so many imaginative ways. It all showed how valuable they are in their very different communities - from Welsh valleys, the hills of Northumberland to the Scottish Highlands... with so many cities and rural settings in between.


We hope today's and other future fun sessions will help make the volunteers feel more a part of the whole, enable them to tell us more of what they need in the way of resources and training, supported by our team here at the centre. If you're interested in being part of this movement – whether as an Anna Friend or an Anna Chaplain – and would like more information, please email us: annachaplaincy@brf.org.uk


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