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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Goudhurst gets its own Anna Chaplain

Julia Burton-Jones, Sonja Drew and the Revd Rachel Robertson

We are delighted to report on Sonja Drew’s commissioning to the Kent villages of Goudhurst and Kilndown. Julia Burton-Jones was there for the service too on October 8!

The tranquil village pond in the centre of Goudhurst

On a sunny Sunday morning in the picturesque village of Goudhurst, Sonja Drew was commissioned Anna Chaplain. She was supported by Julia, national training and development lead for Anna Chaplaincy, who is also Anna Chaplaincy lead for Kent.

Sonja spoke for a few minutes, reflecting on her calling to Anna Chaplaincy, before being commissioned by her vicar, the Revd Rachel Robertson.

‘I have been involved in supporting elderly people throughout my church life, both in church and in the community,' said Sonja.

'It wasn’t until I retired two years ago that God started to nudge me into taking on more church-based activities, for example taking Home Communion and joining the Community Cupboard Team.

Opportunities to spend time chatting with, and offering prayer, and more importantly listening well to older people of strong, little or no faith around the village seemed to resonate more with me as an important ministry to a group of people in the third and fourth ages of life. Showing them that they are deeply loved for their experience, knowledge, and wisdom.

I started to feel this calling to the ministry of being an Anna Chaplain over a year ago. I had encouraging conversations with my vicar, Rev Rachel, and the Warden of Readers last year. I also spent time discussing the role with one of the diocesan Anna Chaplaincy leads. Following my Reader Annual Review with Rev Rachel this year, the call to this ministry was still as strong.

The words from Isaiah 46: 4 Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you, have been a constant source of encouragement whilst I have been discerning Anna Chaplaincy.

I see my role as drawing alongside older people to provide a listening ear, joining in coffee mornings, the Community Lunch, visiting people at home or in care homes, keeping them connected with others; supporting those going through life changes, such as bereavement, loss of partner, health concerns.

Being alongside those with dementia or severe memory problems and their families and carers, is likely to feature too. Using my musical skills, might also form part of that support. I will have the privilege of accompanying them on their spiritual journey.

This is an emerging ministry for us and I’m looking forward to being on a learning journey and working with Rachel in taking this ministry forward.'

'It’s important for me to assess and re-assess this ministry, as it shows that we don’t start out (any of us) in the journey of discernment knowing exactly what the journey is going to be and how it will pan out.’

Rev Rachel reflected after the service:

'We are thrilled to encourage Sonja in her discerning of the call to being an Anna Chaplain, the wider support she will have access to, and the network she will be a part of.'

'As a church we want to encourage all to know that there is a God, that He loves them, and that He is for them - whatever our age and stage. To have a dedicated resource for our older population is an enormous blessing, which we give great thanks to God for.'
St Mary's Church, Goudhurst




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