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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Churches Together in Cumbria appoint their new lead for Anna Chaplaincy

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

Cumbria Anna Chaplaincy lead, Revd Annie Gray.

The new Anna Chaplaincy lead in Cumbria has been commissioned. Revd Annie Gray’s commissioning service took place on Wednesday 11 January, in the afternoon, at Penrith Methodist Church, and was attended by members of Churches Together in Cumbria trustees and advisory committee members, Annie’s predecessor Katherine Froggatt and some 20–30 others, including friends and family. Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends from across Cumbria, local ministers and colleagues from the hospital chaplaincy team were also present.

As part of her visit last week to both Northumbria and Cumbria, Debbie Ducille, our Anna Chaplaincy church lead, was also able to join the team there from Churches Together in Cumbria.

‘It was a pleasure, as always’, she said ‘to spend time with the Churches Together in Cumbria team, and with such a lovely commissioning service to boot. Many thanks to Diana and to Andrew, for including so many network members in the service and including us all, in committing our various ministries to God.’

We asked Annie to introduce herself to you in her own words:

‘Hi, my name is Revd Annie Gray and I am privileged to have just been appointed as the new Anna Chaplain lead Cumbria.

‘I have much experience of chaplaincy, as a former lead chaplain in the NHS at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. In this post I also became a Dementia Friend, leading on hospital work with those suffering from dementia, including setting up a ward visiting singing group. I also spent time as an assistant chaplain at Eden Valley Hospital and an Anglican chaplain to Newcastle University. In addition to these roles, I am an ordained Anglican priest and have amongst other roles been priest-in-charge of an ecumenical church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

‘I began my working life as a community artist and art teacher, went to live in India, became a Christian and trained for four years as a natural therapist, involving herbalism, homoeopathy, and later the Bowen Technique and counselling.

‘I founded and ran for twelve years a charity, Christian Natural Health Clinic, which involved 27 therapists, offering low-cost treatments and 80 home visitors we called “Simply Caring”, who were trained in hand massage and listening skills and visited the most isolated and homeless.

‘The most profound experience was, however, to be found in my own family, where I was privileged to accompany my mother on her own dementia journey. Visiting her often as she neared the end of her life in a local care home, I began visiting others in that home and taking services. It was the greatest of blessings to be able to give her Holy Communion at the end of her life.

‘I had not heard of Anna Chaplains before but had a strong sense that God was calling me to return home to Cumbria. After much prayer and struggle, I gave my notice as priest-in-charge but believed I would remain as chaplain to Newcastle University.

‘Within two days a friend sent me the advert for the Anna Chaplaincy lead post and I have to say my heart leapt when I read the job description and the role. This was so for me and I wasn’t even looking for another role! However, it seems that God never wastes any of our experiences and so here I am excited and thrilled, especially as when I was a hospital chaplain my line manager and myself had often commented on the need for chaplaincy in the community!

‘I am a great believer in the power of prayer, and I will be praying for all the Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends I come to know, and would ask you to pray for me that Anna Chaplaincy in Cumbria will flourish under the guidance of our wonderful, gracious God.’




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