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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Plymouth commissionings as Exeter Diocese embraces Anna Chaplaincy

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Annie Jefferies (sixth from the left) with the Archdeacon of Plymouth and her fellow Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends

The archdeacon of Plymouth, the Venerable Nick Shutt, led a wonderfully moving service on Sunday (7 November 2021) for the commissioning of the Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends, writes Annie Jefferies.

It marked the culmination of a pilot project to roll out the work of Anna Chaplaincy in the archdeaconry of Plymouth. The pilot project had been headed up by Annie who has spent a huge amount of time and energy bringing the project to fruition.

Indeed, she is one of six new Anna Chaplains and two Anna Friends commissioned at the weekend. The new Anna Chaplains are Anneliese Barrell, Ellen Holah, Karen Grimshaw, Annie Jefferies, Tricia Stringer and Josie Whitfield. Meanwhile, the Anna Friends are Joanna Bound and Sheila Melot.

The service was held at Southway Church in Plymouth. ‘With sunshine streaming into the church during the service, the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” was sung – very moving and relevant to the occasion’ writes Josie Whitfield, one of the candidates.

Just before the commissioning, the archdeacon asked Annie to answer a few questions to tell the congregation, who were kindly sharing their Sunday service, a bit about Anna Chaplaincy. Annie explained where the name originated, who Anna was, a little about the organisation’s work and the difference between Anna Chaplains and Anna Friends.

The names of those being commissioned were then read out and together they declared that they believed that God was calling them to this service. They pledged, with the support and prayers of the congregation, to prayerfully perform their work and to develop the gifts given to them by God as they share in Christ’s mission and ministry. After a prayer by the archdeacon, they were then welcomed by the congregation.

It was a very special occasion for one of the Anna Friends, Joanna Bound, who first raised the potential of Anna Chaplaincy with the Bishop of Plymouth a number of years ago. There were probably times during those years when Joanna wondered if this day would ever come!

Those commissioned were awarded with their badges and also a goodie bag each containing a selection of Anna Chaplaincy resources.

‘After the service, we celebrated with refreshments and a glass of wine with the congregation, who were most welcoming to us all. Robert, the bishop of Exeter, sent his congratulations and blessings to all’ said Annie, adding, ‘Thank you for the ongoing inspiration and support from you and the team.’

‘One of the joys of the day’ said Josie, ‘was finally seeing each other face to face. Due to the various lockdowns, the pilot project meetings had been conducted on Zoom, as had the online training so a number of remarks along the lines of “you’re a lot taller than you appeared on Zoom” were overheard.’

The newly commissioned chaplains and friends are now back in their various corners of the archdeaconry, hard at work. A number of others are in various stages of training and the plan is for another commissioning service to be held in the spring, this time in Exeter with Bishop Robert officiating.




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