First for Blackpool
Updated: Jun 15
A warm welcome to Dawn Bradbury who has been commissioned – the first Anna Chaplain in Blackpool. The service was on 24 May at Beacon Church in the Lancashire resort.
‘I became a Christian when I was 18 years old,’ says Dawn, ‘through the work of the Christian Union at college where I was training to be a primary school teacher.
‘Over the next 40 years, I was usually involved in the children’s work, with Sunday school, holiday clubs and Messy Church.
‘Then as the church opened up again after Covid and a new vicar joined to lead the church into mission to reach children and young people, I began to notice that many of our older members were missing. I felt very uncomfortable about this and did a lot of praying. I realised very suddenly that I too was an old person (when did that happen?) and the Lord was saying “Go and minister to your contemporaries.”
‘After a chat with the vicar, I went through the electoral roll to find out exactly who was missing. Some had moved on to other congregations but about 20 were unaccounted for. I wrote to them all, offering a visit, a phone call or a regular newsletter to stay in touch; twelve people answered requesting the newsletter. So this was where I started.
‘Our diocese was offering training to become an authorised local minister for later life which I have undertaken and it was where I met Katherine (Froggatt – former Anna Chaplaincy Lead, Cumbria) who told us about Anna Chaplaincy.
‘Someone had suggested this to me a couple of months before, and it interested me for a number of reasons. I am very much on my own with this venture and need ongoing training and support. So with the support of our vicar, I started an application and was commissioned on 24 May.
‘Earlier this year I started a small group for mostly older people. We read one of the parables Jesus told, find out what it means and then discuss how it applies to us. The group has doubled in membership over six months and comprises some who know the Bible inside out and some who do not. Some can’t read, some can’t hear and some can’t see, but we have had some very profound discussions about life and faith.
‘Once a month we have undertaken a practical activity taken from the Messy Vintage book (Messy VintageL 52 sessions to share Christ-centred fun and fellowship with the older generation, Katie Norman and Jill Phipps, BRF, 2021) and with those who may have felt disadvantaged using printed material, I have had a chance to use a different media.
‘We have made lanterns, baked bread, planted Busy Lizzies and made a decoration for Pentecost. The room echoes with laughter as we get messy together and have fun. They are a lovely group of people to work with.
‘The commissioning was incorporated into a weekly joint service of Holy Communion held at a neighbouring church which will become part of my territory.
‘I was a member of this church for 30 years so it is a privilege to return to serve them in this way. It was a very simple service using most of the outline provided. I told my story and Andy, our vicar, interviewed me and I explained a little about Anna Chaplaincy.
‘The following week when I returned someone came and asked if my work would include their church because they were very much in the same position as ours. This was a church that before Covid had regular contact with three care homes.
‘So I am very much at the beginning of my journey. I am asking the Lord for team members now and trusting him to provide them and to open doors into our community. In the meantime I will continue to write to some, and meet with others, to share his love and concern for my contemporaries.'