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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Cumbria gets set to adopt the Anna Chaplaincy approach

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Members of Churches Together in Cumbria and dementia enablers hear more about Anna Chaplaincy

My recent visit to Cumbria took place just in time before the advice to cease all non-essential travel. As it was, numbers at the events in Kirkby Lonsdale and Tebay were down by at least half because of understandable fears over coronavirus. But it was still a worthwhile trip, meeting the ministry team of the Rainbow Parish in Kirkby Lonsdale and others and speaking to the members of Churches Together in Cumbria (CTiC) including some of the region's 150 dementia enablers.

The Revd Andrew Dodd and Debbie

The Revd Sue O'Loughlin, of the Rainbow Parish, is set to become the region's first Anna Chaplain. Sue is a a distinctive deacon and has attended both the introductory weekend course in Ministry among Older People at Cliff College, Derbyshire, which I led last September, as well as our Certificate Course there last month.

The Revd Sue O'Loughlin of Rainbow Parish, Kirkby Lonsdale

Dementia project officer for Churches Together in Cumbria, Yvonne Povey, introducing me at the meeting at the Tebay Services Hotel, said CTiC welcomed wholeheartedly the plan to complete their dementia enablers initiative and then develop Anna Chaplaincy more widely. Anna Chaplaincy will formally be launched on 19 September at the fifth annual Cumbria Churches’ Dementia Conference at the Border Kirk in Carlisle.

Yvonne Povey, CTiC's dementia project officer

CTiC chairman, the Revd Andrew Dodd, gave some key background to the long history of ecumenical working in the region, an approach to working together successfully on a number of key projects which has clearly paid dividends at grassroots level.

The Revd Andrew Dodd, chairman of CTiC

Funds are being sought to employ a paid coordinator to 'hold' Anna Chaplaincy: answering inquirers, establishing the best way of implementing a vocational pathway and providing training for new Anna Chaplains in Cumbria. Visit their website for more information on their planned conference in September and the job details.

I heard about the rapid growth in numbers of dementia enablers across the county from many different denominations. Rural dean, the Revd Anne Pettifor, spoke about the challenges of working in rural communities. Anna Chaplains might well liaise with agricultural chaplains, for example, who meet the majority of those they serve at the Farmers Auction Marts which attract people from a wide area.

Sue O'Loughlin spoke movingly of her own ministry with residents and staff in care homes and sheltered accommodation complexes, where people are especially challenged by the no-visiting rules and social distancing advice, generally, in the light of Covid-19.

Her incumbent, the Revd Richard Snow, sees Anna Chaplaincy as a way of affirming and thanking those who are already engaged in ministry among older people, as well as offering opportunities to others, in particular those who are newly retired and discerning their own calling to such pastoral work.

It's hoped Sue will be commissioned as an Anna Chaplain this autumn. A further Enquirer's Day scheduled for Saturday 2 May was planned to be held in Keswick and at a venue to be confirmed. To find out more, contact Jenny Andrews at



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