As Wendy Wilson heads towards her commissioning as an Anna Chaplain in her part of Cumbria – the Eden Valley, she wrote this article introducing herself in the local newsletter:
I am an older person living in the beautiful Eden Valley. I have 19 fantastic grandchildren, so retirement so far has not been dull! I had a long career in Health Visiting until 2014 and I have also worked as a live-in carer and companion for elderly people in different parts of the country. In both these jobs, it was a great privilege to be able to serve the community and I never stopped being impressed by peoples’ uniqueness and the wealth of their experiences gained during the years of a long life.
I came to a faith in God during the middle years of my life and this led me to become involved in my local Anglican church. The links with our community hospital gave me the opportunity to take part in delivering worship services to residents, some of whom were living with dementia.
In 2013, my husband and I moved to the Eden Valley and we felt warmly welcomed by so many in the church benefice. I became a church warden and after this, a worship leader in Kirkoswald Church. I also got involved in helping with ‘Godly Play’ in our local Church of England primary schools and anticipate doing some training in this later in the year.
I am hoping to be commissioned by the diocese as an Anna Chaplain later in 2021, following training and depending on when the coronavirus decides to leave us alone! I feel called to Anna Chaplaincy, in part because it brings together the experiences gained in my professional life with my wish to share the comfort of God’s love with older people in the community, wherever it is wanted and needed.
The Covid-19 pandemic means that I cannot dive too fast into this role and perhaps this is a blessing, in that I am able to spend time in prayerful planning, learning and reflection. I am enjoying what I can do by having telephone conversations with a few older people who are living on their own during this lonely, sometimes sad and challenging time.
Together with Revd Katherine, vicar and missionary lead, we have taken steps to inform older people of the Anna Chaplaincy ministry by sending out Christmas greeting cards to those who receive the Mission Community newsletter. I look forward to the development of Anna Chaplaincy with the support of a team of Anna Friends whenever this can become a reality.