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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

BRF welcomes John Swinton as a new vice president of the charity

Updated: May 31, 2023

Professor John Swinton – new vice president for BRF

We are delighted to announce that Professor John Swinton has become a vice president of BRF. This is an honorary role for an initial period of three years. Professor Swinton is a professor in practical theology and pastoral care at the University of Aberdeen. He is a leading practitioner in the field of spiritual care for older people in the UK and has been instrumental in the development of the groundbreaking Spiritual Care Series course which BRF promotes and distributes through its Anna Chaplaincy ministry.

Professor Swinton is the author of several highly-regarded books including Dementia: Living in the memories of God and Finding Jesus in the Storm: The spiritual lives of Christians with mental health challenges. He shares BRF’s heart for older people and said on his appointment: ‘The church needs resources and guidance that can equip it for the complex task of helping the world to discover the love of Jesus. The beauty of BRF is that it has a genuine heart for this ministry of equipping. The Spiritual Care Series opens up the ministry of care to a wide variety of people. BRF offers a beacon of hope to a world that longs for peace. I am delighted to be able to be a part of the important work that is being done.’

A beautiful fit

Our chair of trustees, Bishop Colin Fletcher, welcomes Professor Swinton: ‘I am delighted that Professor John Swinton has accepted our invitation to become a vice president of BRF Ministries. His expertise in pastoral theology and healthcare, both as a nurse and as a chaplain, fits in beautifully to our fast-growing network of Anna Chaplains and his broad interest in issues of disability and inclusion will be of wider benefit to our ministries as a whole. He will also be the first Church of Scotland minister to be appointed to this role, emphasising that BRF Ministries are for all four nations of the United Kingdom as well as being international too.’

Anna Chaplaincy pioneer, Debbie Thrower, looks forward to working with Professor Swinton even more closely in the future:

‘From Anna Chaplaincy’s point of view, this could not be a better appointment. We have huge respect for John Swinton. His book Dementia: Living in the memories of God is a recommended textbook for all Anna Chaplains and he’s a familiar face to everyone who undertakes BRF’s Spiritual Care Series course. I’m delighted that he’ll be supporting our work with practitioners of ministry among older people in the field as a BRF vice president. John is a highly respected voice in this sphere and a trusted friend to us as we shape Anna Chaplaincy in the future.’

The Spiritual Care Series is a groundbreaking training course to help churches seeking to develop their ministry to older people. Consisting of eight two-and-a-half hour sessions (including video material) it gives churches and carers the confidence, understanding and skills to provide effective holistic spiritual care. Professor John Swinton of the University of Aberdeen, a leading practitioner in the field of spiritual care for older people in the UK, has been involved in the development of the course and features in the videos. The course covers a range of essential skills to develop quality pastoral care and uses a mixture of learning styles. It can be run in person or entirely online. The Spiritual Care Series course consists of a six-user pack costing £360 and additional participants’ licences cost £60. For more information and to order click here or email To watch an introduction to the series featuring John Swinton click here.

Invaluable guidance and expertise

Our head of marketing, communications and strategic relationships, Karen Laister, has worked closely with the Australian developers of the Spiritual Care Series to bring the resource to the UK. She says of Professor Swinton’s appointment: ‘Early indications suggest that the Spiritual Care Series course develops the skills and tools needed to provide good quality spiritual care to older people. John’s involvement in producing the course is core to the way it equips people to understand the ageing process and the spiritual care required at this stage of life. BRF’s vice presidents provide invaluable expertise and guidance to the charity. John’s appointment endorses the work of Anna Chaplaincy and the role this ministry is increasingly playing across the United Kingdom.’




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