Bishop of Portsmouth: 'We should create Anna Chaplains to support older people in every parish'
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
The new Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, has lost no time in advocating for Anna Chaplaincy in every parish in the diocese. Less than a month after his installation as the tenth Bishop of Portsmouth – with 139 Church of England parishes across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – he placed Anna Chaplaincy as one of his top priorities.
The vision I want to offer is a diocese where everyone belongs, older and younger, but in which we have made a commitment to offer life-enhancing encounters with Jesus Christ to children, young people and young adults. We need to be intentional about offering a new generation the chance to find the love that has enthralled us. Anna Chaplaincy is a beautiful, growing movement to develop the spirituality of older people. It is based on the ministry of Anna, who saw the infant Jesus in the temple and praised God for the Messiah. It helps us to show the value of the older generation, and gives lay pastors authority to visit people in their own homes and minister to them.
The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Portsmouth
A report just posted on the diocesan website says the bishop ‘suggested we might look again at our deaneries’ plans for mission and ministry with two additional proposals. One is that we should create Anna Chaplains to support older people in every parish of the diocese. The other is to deliberately prioritise our work with children, young people and young adults to bring the gospel to the emerging generation.’
Bishop Jonathan, who was formerly Dean of York, is a former police chaplain and university chaplain.
He presented a roadmap for the rest of 2022. ‘I will not be asking you to start something afresh,’ he said. ‘I welcome what you’ve done, and there is so much to celebrate already. I’m here to understand, enable and challenge you, but it’s your ministry, your service of Christ that we delight in.’
There is an Anna Chaplain in West Wight, Anne Powell (see blog First Anna Chaplain for the Isle of Wight), with others waiting in the wings to also become Anna Chaplains on the island and mainland. Long-time Anna Chaplaincy network member in Sheet, Julie Slade, works with older people in her parish near Petersfield.
Jill Phipps was for many years the Older Persons' Advocate for inner city Portsmouth – her work informed by the Anna Chaplaincy model. Jill went on to become a coordinator for Messy Vintage, and has co-written a soon-to-be published BRF resource, Grief Conversations :For all those living with loss and supporting others through loss.
Pioneer of Anna Chaplaincy, Debbie Thrower, recalls the support for Anna Chaplaincy Bishop Jonathan has expressed since the start. When Bishop of Southampton, she says, he would regularly send greetings to the Anna Chaplaincy annual Network Gatherings.
In 2017 he sent us this message: ‘As you gather to give thanks, reflect and to seek the Lord's direction for this beautiful work in which you are engaged, be assured of my thanksgiving to God for Anna Chaplaincy and prayers for the continuing growth and development of this much needed ministry.’