This week saw the president of the Baptist Union commissioning Bill Hawes as an Anna Chaplain in Durham.
Revd Hayley Young, who's been a prison chaplain and school chaplain herself, is both regional minister of the Northern Baptist Association and president of the Baptist Union for 2022–23.
She conducted the service on Monday at Durham City Baptist Church and preached enthusiastically about the importance of valuing older people and of the generations working together. Watch a video in which she describes her love of pastoral ministry and of the challenges to mental health faced, not least, by older people and of her hopes for the church summed up in the phrase – 'build a bigger table'.
Bill's minister, Revd Louise Dickinson, has also been most supportive of his vocation to this work.
We asked Bill, who's a former missionary, to describe what led him to his new ministry post-retirement.
My journey to becoming an Anna Chaplain
'I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour while in my teens, and this led to responding to God's call to serve him as a missionary in East Malaysia, and later in Nepal, overall for more than 20 years. After our family returned to the UK in 1991, I had further experience in mission, serving with the Leprosy Mission International and the Church Mission Society. I also gained experience in coaching, counselling and spiritual direction.
'Spiritual direction is more helpfully known as spiritual accompaniment and earlier this year when I first heard of Anna Chaplaincy, at a meeting of Christians on Ageing, I was struck by the emphasis in Anna Chaplaincy on "spiritual accompaniment" to older people. In the coming months, I explored the story, vision and practical ministry of Anna Chaplaincy and its testimony to how it "enables local churches to offer high quality spiritual care to older people in the community, who may be of strong, little or no faith". I valued reading their literature and experiencing their training.
'Step by step it became clear that this was God's calling to me at this time in my life, and I was encouraged that this was confirmed at a church meeting in the Durham City Baptist Church.
'Our minister, Revd Louise Dickinson, has great enthusiasm for this ministry (as well as for children's and young people's work!) and has had training in ministry to those who have dementia, an important focus in Anna Chaplaincy to older people.'
'Louise has gladly agreed to be my manager and supervisor in my role as Anna Chaplain and we trust that in partnership – led by the Spirit – and moving gently forward we will be able to develop a team that might include those from other churches serving also as Anna Chaplains, or as Anna Friends and volunteers.
'In gratitude to the God who calls us to this ministry, our testimony is that
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence (Acts 2:28).'
We wish Bill all the very best as he embarks on this new chapter of his ministry and seeks to build a team of others around him who also share the vision for better ministry among older people.