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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Rainbows and resilience - more news of the Anna Chaplaincy Gathering

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Story Chaplain, Charlotte Overton-Hart, from Brighton, was an outstanding speaker at our annual gathering for network members which this year took place online over two days. Our theme was 'Stories of Resilience and Hope.'

Charlotte used tea cards and her own specially designed 'Ingredients Cards' to get us thinking about memory and the importance of sharing stories. She composed this poem, inspired by the people she heard talking about their Anna Chaplaincy experiences and the tales other guests we welcomed this year had to tell. We feel she has captured the essence of all we are about – offering spiritual care to people in their later years as well as to their carers.

It's going to be alright

Story sharers, and beacons of hope

Anna Chaplains are a lifeline, helping people to cope

Denominations gather, differences melt

Virtual encouragements are tangibly felt

Lavender love through the letter box

We’re thankful to posties, we think they’re the tops

Beads for Psalm 23 bracelets delivered

Take a moment to pause, God’s love considered

Thumbs up emoji, a wink, and a smile

Digital adopters, with humour and style

Harvest in a box, and a cream tea on the step

We trust in the Lord, in his presence we’re kept

New ways to adapt, and fuelled by love

Like Noah once did, we send out a dove

We hope and pray for the flood to recede

We look up to the skies, God’s promise to receive

As the weeks went by we knit a new ark

Re-stitching the story, with creative spark

At low points and high points God’s promise is true

The sky has been grey now we’re looking for blue

A sometime companion, shouting to the sea

Or in the depths of the year shouting C O V I D

Sea shanty singing on Zoom, spirits kept up

Or Compline on What’s App just before we’re tucked up

The story’s not over, God’s promise is true

His presence is with us, grey skies or blue

Anna Chaplains in sunshine or rain

Keep sharing the story, that God loves folk the same

Keep spotting the rainbows, keep sharing the light

It’s not over yet, but the Bible tells me, it’s going to be alright.

Our day and a half together online was punctuated with times of worship and prayer in small groups, allowing for exploration of the themes of lament, resilience and hope.

Grace Group re-enacting the story of Tabitha in Acts

We also watched a drama based on the Bible story in Acts 9:36-42, telling of how Tabitha was raised from the dead. Rosemary Halliday of the Gloucestershire-based Grace Group said, 'Because of social distancing we are not able to do our usual drama but we were in costume reading from scripts rather like a radio play. The scene lasted about 10-15 mins which gave us time to talk about "Living the Bible", how it can be used to encourage and teach and also featured a couple of testimonies about what it has meant to us in doing it.'


Feedback from network members who attended this rather different 2020 Gathering – from the comfort of their own homes – has been enormously positive:

I want to thank you so much for a most wonderful Anna Chaplaincy gathering this week. I found it so incredibly encouraging and helpful. It has been such a difficult year and I was so glad to have a place to be able to acknowledge some of the feelings we all have and to share stories of hope and resilience. I have also felt so thankful that during this year I haven’t been on my own but part of a bigger organisation with other chaplains who have been experiencing the same things as me. It has made me feel supported and much less alone. So thank you so much to you all for all the work you put in to making it such a successful event.

I think the event was, amazingly, able to create the sense of a fun, a loving caring, purposeful community with much to give and receive.

What a team! What a gathering!! A huge thank you for the prayer, time and detailed planning you all put into making this such a successful zoom gathering! There was a lovely balance of input, conversation, prayer and worship; of watching the screen and leaving the screen to draw, stick and contemplate - amazing how interactive we can be online.

Thank you so much for a wonderful day and a half. It was so lovely to see familiar smiling faces from everywhere. It has been so amazing, full of so much encouraging information, a time of being a part of a wonderful network of like-minded friends and just being with you all has been such a fantastic time and feeling so supported.



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