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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

New Year Get-Togethers!

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Getting on for a third of all network members have been joining us for Get-Togethers this New Year. We were delighted to see you all and keep in touch via Zoom. We will offer another early evening Get-Together for others who find it impossible to join us during working hours.


Many fresh ideas emerged as we caught up on what's been happening since we all last met.

Orkney member, the Revd Sue Kirkbride, explained how she and her fellow islanders are still in Tier Three of the pandemic restrictions at present. Many of her community are good knitters so they have been making 'Rainbow Babies' since the autumn and gave them as gifts to care home residents this Christmas.

Sue described the little knitted figures as 'hugs' with their wide stretched arms!

Sue wrote, following the Get-Together, to say: 'Here is the pattern for the hugs – technically called "Rainbow Babies" but we called them "sending hugs".' They have been very well received, she said, adding that they are photographed on 'a traditional Orkney chair'.

About 50 were knitted all together. As a variation on the same theme, 'Some of our ladies adapted the trauma teddy pattern too. Here is the teddy pattern,' she said.


Anna Chaplain, Wendy Gleadle in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, has been continuing to record chats for the people living with dementia she once visited in person. She's made about 20 of them now.

'Since September I have been keeping in touch with the residents in my local care home by recording a weekly "video chat" for them. I simply record myself on my iPhone, upload to YouTube, and then forward it to the Activities' Manager. He takes his laptop around the bedrooms and plays the message individually to the residents, and tells me they are being really well received and in many cases providing a "conversation starter" with those who usually say very little.

'Subjects covered so far include: Favourite food, missing hugs, favourite photographs, seaside memories, God is close, autumn, school days, pets, hobbies, coping with anxiety, following Jesus, your wedding day, children's birthday parties, remembrance, making a Christingle, Happy Christmas and New Year's resolutions.

'Here are a couple for your interest: Remembrance and New Year's Resolutions.'

To the tune of Good King Wenceslas...

To make a change from knitting angels as Christmas gifts for residents in her care homes in Worcestershire, Anna Chaplain Eileen Tomlin has composed a Christmas Carol for her chaplaincy colleagues. 'Just thought you might enjoy this – a slightly lighter touch on our network!'

An Anna Chaplain Carol for 2021

'Covid-19 locked us down,

Clear of all infections.

Anna Chaplains stay in touch,

Strengthening our connections

Even though we’re miles apart,

Sharing prayer and singing,

We can see each cheerful smile,

Hope and friendship bringing.

Now the vaccine’s on its way,

Our turn’s coming nearer.

Scientists who’ve worked so hard

Make our future clearer.

Doctors, nurses, neighbours, friends…

All are kind and caring,

Seek the rainbow through the rain,

Peace and comfort sharing.

Though we have to stay apart,

Covid cannot beat us.

Many of us still at work,

Lock-downs won’t defeat us.

Anna Chaplains, Anna Friends,

Don’t be sad or fearful,

As the New Year brings new Hope,

Please ‘Stay Safe’, ‘Stay Cheerful!’'


It wasn't all laughter and crafting on our calls though, with many Anna Chaplains expressing frustration at the way visiting has been hampered throughout the pandemic.

Some were feeling daunted, as they try to spark more interest in developing Anna Chaplaincy, by the scale of the task, given how many older people need help in their communities, and some spoke of a lack of response, sometimes, to the gifts they make or cards, letters, books and resources they send in to care homes. While acknowledging how busy managers and care staff are, they told how it can be discouraging to spend time making up parcels to send in with little if any response or feedback in return.

While many others gave examples of their own experiences when items turned out to have proved useful even if they weren't told about it immediately, or heard only in a round about way that was the case, Sue Kirkbride had a reading to hand to encourage anyone flagging in their ministry. The line that speaks to her particularly in the following is:

'We are workers, not master builders;

ministers, not messiahs.'

Attributed (erroneously, it seems) to the late Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, here it is:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,

it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction

of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.

Nothing we do is complete,

which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church's mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted,

knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,

and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something,

and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,

an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,

but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders;

ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future that is not our own. Amen.

Wise words for this Christmas season as we look ahead to Candlemas at the beginning of February, celebrating the lives of Simeon and Anna who inspire our ministry.

We learn from this website that, actually that writing 'was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in November 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.'


We learn from your own feedback to us that these 90-minute online Get-Togethers are a great help. One Anna Chaplain wrote: 'Thank you for the Zoom Network Meeting this afternoon. It was lovely to have that time of worship together and to reflect back on 2020 and so inspiring to hear news from other Anna Chaplains.'

Others wrote: 'Thank you for another really worthwhile afternoon. It was lovely to see everyone again.'

'Thank-you for all you are doing to help and support us.'

'It was great to be part of the Zoom meeting yesterday. I found it so inspirational hearing about all the different projects people are involved in.'

'God is at work'

Despite the frustrations expressed, there's a real zest for seeing how ways can be found round the problems encountered. All have been eager to share what projects they have initiated and tell how well they have gone, often to their own surprise.

New Anna Chaplains in Cumbria are showing great energy; they're ‘running’, according to Katharine Froggatt, the new Anna Chaplaincy Lead in Cumbria, who concluded a session saying, ‘How exciting and timely... It really is a movement. God is at work!’



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