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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Resuming Anna Chaplaincy

Updated: May 6, 2020

The essence of Anna Chaplaincy is good listening – a face-to-face ministry based on empathy and compassion

Much thought is going into what the landscape will look like for Anna Chaplaincy and our whole ministry post-lockdown. We shall need to make space for lament.

When I met newly commissioned Anna Chaplain Joan Grenfell in Newcastle last summer, she told me she'd been 'doing this work for years'. 'So, what difference does it make being an Anna Chaplain?' I asked her? 'All the difference in the world,' she replied, 'because I now have authority.'

These past few weeks, like every one of us in the network confined to base, she's frustrated by the inability to see those we normally visit face to face – in the same room. Joan has been considering what the future will be like, and these are her thoughts she's allowed me to share:

Joan Grenfell, pictured far right, in Newcastle Cathedral

I have been keeping in touch with my two care homes, both of which have had the virus and both of which have, sadly, lost residents to it.

The manager of one of them was in intensive care for several weeks, but is now on the road to recovery, and one of the staff in the other home who was also in intensive care is home now, but still not fully recovered.

I sense that the staff are pleased that I make regular contact with them.

In view of what has happened in both places, I have been thinking about how I will actually, eventually, resume my ministry. What will my ministry look like, for residents and staff alike? What will I say? How will we move forward together?

I can’t breeze in as if nothing has happened. Something very significant has happened.

I will have to take in the message of hope and resurrection life, but it doesn’t feel as if I can do that immediately. I must recognise the deaths, the anxiety, the confusion which must have been felt by everyone.

I will want to say that the light of Christ can never be extinguished, and that there is nothing.... neither virus, nor death, nor fear, nor anxiety, nor social distancing, nor anything else in all creation, that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

'Even though… yet still I will rejoice'

I am reading the book you recommended, God among the Ruins by Mags Duggan (2018, BRF) and have found it very helpful and enjoyably readable. Remarkably, it speaks strongly into the situation we find ourselves in at present.

There is a lot in it which I will be able to use with my Columbine Group [Women's Study group]... eventually.

I have always loved the verses at the end of the book of Habakkuk, so was delighted to find that the premise of the book is based on these verses… ‘Even though… yet still I will rejoice.’

These might form the starting point for my ministry when it resumes.

Best wishes, and prayers for your well-being and safe keeping, Joan.



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