The latest five Anna Chaplains commissioned in Kent took us well over the 300 mark!
It has become a tradition in Rochester Diocese to commission Anna Chaplains at a celebration at Bishopscourt, the home of the bishop of Rochester.
On 29 June five new Anna Chaplains joined the growing team in the diocese which now numbers 41 Anna Chaplains, as well as 28 Anna Friends. They are Deirdre Cornish-Browne from St John’s Beckenham, Kim and John Curle from Cudham and Downe, Debbie Oliver from Holy Trinity South Chatham and Revd Helen Musson from Christ Church Orpington.
Bishop Jonathan and his wife Toni hosted a reception in a marquee on their lawn and more than 40 guests attended to support the new Anna Chaplains. Anna Chaplaincy lead for the diocese, Julia Burton-Jones (who is also training and development lead for Anna Chaplaincy at BRF), interviewed Archdeacon Andy Wooding Jones about the importance of older people in church and family life, asking how churches in his archdeaconry (Rochester Archdeaconry) are responding to the demographics of our times.
Andy explained that he moved back to Kent from Birmingham several years ago to care for his wife Margaret’s parents and enable them to stay in their home with its smallholding in Hildenborough. He spoke about the first words of the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Our Father’; posing the question, who is ‘our’ in the churches and communities we represent? In a time of increased longevity, we are blessed that our communities and Christian family include many who have lived to an advanced age. Including them fully, enriches our shared life, he said.
Others from the diocese were there to support the new Anna Chaplains. Bible passages were read by Diana Pattison, Bromley and Bexley archdeaconry lead for Anna Chaplaincy and Karen Senior, diocesan warden of lay ministry. The Anna Chaplains were presented to the bishop by Revd Sophie Sutherland who, like Diana, is Bromley and Bexley archdeaconry lead for Anna Chaplaincy. Also present in support were diocesan secretary Matthew Girt, children and young people’s mission and ministry team lead Cheryl Trice and Anna Chaplaincy mentor Revd Christine Latham. Clergy from the parishes represented were pleased to support their new Anna Chaplains.
Julia introduced the new Anna Chaplains, saying how much life experience they bring. Debbie, for instance, worked for five years as a funeral director. Deirdre’s professional role before retirement was in nursing, including in community roles with older people. Kim has many years of experience in youth ministry and in church roles supporting older people; she and John have worked together in this ministry and are part of Cudham and Downe’s pastoral team. They have many creative ideas to share with the team and can inform and inspire intergenerational work. Helen is now curate at Christ Church but worked at the Bromley and Sheppard’s Colleges for retired clergy in Bromley, looking after the beautiful grounds and getting to know the community.
After introducing the team, Julia said:
Helen said, ‘It was a very special moment’. And Kim reflected afterwards, ‘It was a marvellous occasion, and we were really encouraged by the whole service.’ She said several friends are now exploring Anna Chaplaincy for themselves, and she has been invited to give a talk at a friend’s home group at a local Methodist church. Debbie’s rector Revd David Kichenside said,
‘We look forward to seeing the fruits of this ministry.’