Portsmouth Diocese reports on ‘first Anna Chaplain licensed on the mainland’
Updated: May 4
I spent a very enjoyable evening on Sunday at St Michael and All Angel’s Church in Chalton on the south downs, north of Portsmouth (writes Debbie Thrower) to see the first Anna Chaplain licensed on the diocese’s mainland.
Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, bishop of Portsmouth, commissioned Dr Coleen Jackson, who is already an Anglican reader (or licensed lay minister, LLM). She follows in the footsteps of Anne Powell who was commissioned as West Wight Anna Chaplain on the Isle of Wight last year.
As the news report on Portsmouth’s diocesan website made clear, Coleen’s commissioning on 1 May 2022, marks a strategic shift in the diocese which is committed to making Anna Chaplaincy a top priority in this part of southern England.
Bishop Jonathan said on Sunday evening that he wanted ‘to be the best possible partner for BRF’ in this endeavour.
I preached at the service of Evening Prayer which saw the village church packed with parishioners, friends and well-wishers from across a wide area. Priest in charge of the benefice, Revd Vickie Morgan, praised Coleen’s work among older people. As she was about to be commissioned Coleen, who is a former teacher, explained why she had been drawn to such ministry:
‘I have always believed that God’s call on my life is to encourage others to know Jesus and share my faith in as many ways as I can, but particularly to those who are vulnerable and marginalised in our society. Throughout my life and involvement in the church there has been a focus on those in older years through pastoral visiting, supporting them or being part of a team that provided lunches and events. In more recent years I have had the joy and the privilege to work with the parishes of Blendworth, Chalton and Idsworth and supporting our work in care homes. I am passionate about this work and very excited by all the opportunities the Lord is opening up for us as a benefice and diocese. I believe that in this season of my life the best way I can serve him is by helping show older people how much they are loved and valued in his kingdom.’
I told the story of the growth of Anna Chaplaincy from its beginnings in Alton, less than 20 miles away from Coleen’s benefice back in 2010. And about how the concept was gifted to BRF in 2014. ‘BRF has a genius for scaling up grassroots Christian initiatives’, I said, ‘and giving them a national profile’ (in Messy Church’s case it’s international – with thousands of Messy Church groups now registered on every continent across the globe!). Messy Church also began only a few miles away in Cowplain, I pointed out.
‘I remember thinking at the start of my involvement with BRF, “well, if Anna Chaplaincy could enjoy a fraction of that kind of success, I’d be so grateful”. There was never any doubt in my mind that the vision was to have an Anna Chaplain in every small to medium-sized community across the land.’
Bishop Jonathan’s commitment to older people, shown in his determination to establish a network of Anna Chaplains right across his diocese, is a key moment for us:
‘By stating publicly, “We should create Anna Chaplains to support older people in every parish”, we are witnessing another hinge point in the history of Anna Chaplaincy; another small step… in the building of the kingdom of God here on earth.’
A diocesan strategy group to work with the bishop and his team is being set up and members of our core Anna Chaplaincy team at BRF will join Coleen Jackson and others to implement the plan.