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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

‘How to offer spiritual care in later life’ - taking the news of Anna Chaplaincy to Essex

Updated: May 4, 2022

Revd Margaret Fowler and her colleague Revd Christine Williams of Little Burstead team ministry in Essex joined pioneer of Anna Chaplaincy Debbie Thrower at Mulberry House

We were ‘ladies who lunch’ last Thursday when 25 of us gathered at the Mulberry House Hotel in High Ongar, Essex, for a morning on pastoral care followed by a delicious lunch. Not billed as a ‘women-only’ occasion, nevertheless, we were all women attending the event, arranged by the Nationwide Christian Trust.

Some attendees were local, others had travelled from as far away as Kent and various parts of east and west London to hear more about Anna Chaplaincy and our approach to pastoral care for people in their later years.

Revd Margaret Fowler and a friend and colleague Revd Christine Williams from Billericay and Little Burstead, thanked us afterwards for ‘a very special and helpful day. We now have lots to think and pray about!’

Debbie with Maggie Smithard, a soon to be commissioned Anna Chaplain

Soon-to-be Anna Chaplain Maggie Smithard had driven all the way from Kent with a friend. Maggie is due to be commissioned on Sunday 22 May with Sarah Grinsell to St Luke’s Lighthouse in Hawkinge in Canterbury Diocese.

She told the group how much she had enjoyed the six-week online Anna Chaplaincy training course and, especially, hearing from Anna Chaplains themselves who are engaged in this ministry.

Mulberry House Hotel

Within the grounds of Mulberry House is the Pastoral Centre which houses the offices of the Nationwide Christian Trust. Our event on 28 April, ‘How to offer spiritual care later in life’, was part of a current series called ‘Delving deeper’. On 18 May, Russ Parker will be leading a morning on ‘Rediscovering the ministry of blessing’.

Michele Pitt, Pastoral Centre manager, described how: ‘The power of blessing is a largely undiscovered and little practised ministry. This day is an opportunity to explore and practise what it means to bless someone. We will be looking at the purpose of blessing and some of the outcomes that scripture encourages us to expect as a result. As well as teaching on the subject of blessing there will be opportunities in small groups to practise how to bless with effect.’

Reverend Dr Russ Parker is director of 2Restore: Healing Church Wounds, which offers resources to help churches resolve and heal their issues and move forward. Russ was director of Acorn Christian Healing Foundation, in Hampshire, from 1995 to 2013. He was a Baptist pastor, ordained in the Church of England and had several other clergy related roles. He is also the author of several books and teaches on issues connected with Christian Healing and Healthcare, Reconciliation and Church Transformation. He is cofounder of the Community of Aidan and Hilda whose main house is situated on the holy island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland. To find out more about the May 18 event and for bookings, visit

The Nationwide Christian Trust also trust produces Living Light, a daily Bible devotional, operates a Prayerline and produces a weekly online prayer guide.




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