Many new people have been reached recently with stories of the benefits of the ministry of Anna Chaplains thanks to BRF Ministries' staff and Anna Chaplaincy network members attending events and giving training.
At the invitation of the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Pioneer Debbie Thrower gave the Bishop's Teaching Morning for Clergy on November 22.
'The morning began really well' said Debbie, 'as Bishop Graham is a former BRF trustee and had some very complimentary things to say about BRF, and our Chief Executive, Richard Fisher in particular!'
'The diocese's Anna Chaplaincy coordinator, the Revd Nigel Tufnell, and several of Norfolk's Anna Chaplains, first led us in worship and then I began the first of two sessions encouraging those present to consider their own ageing and the role models they have been inspired by in their own circle of family and friends. More than 120 people took part in the training sessions, including not only the Bishop of Norwich, but those of Thetford and (Kings) Lynn too.
A member of clergy, writing to say thank you afterwards, added: 'One of the things I value about Anna Chaplaincy is the way it enables us to keep on growing in our vocation as we grow older – and you helped us to see how that might be possible.'
Meanwhile, Anna Chaplain Gaye Hailstone wrote to tell us: 'Anna Chaplaincy was invited by Bishop Graham to have a stand at the Norwich Diocesan Synod meeting on November 18. It was a wet and windy day, she said, 'our stand was near the entrance door, so clergy were dashing in and passing us by to get to a warm place.'
Pam Shaw and Gaye Hailstone were on duty at the stand, nevertheless, to answer any questions and to fly the Anna Chaplaincy flag.
'Bishop Graham spoke about this having been a 'pastoral' year, and that we are now moving into being 'prophetic' in 2024, although he did remind everyone that they still needed to be pastoral!!
There was another Anna Chaplain at the Synod meeting, the Revd. Sue Shillam. Sue spoke to the Synod about the project in her benefice which focused on one-to-one visiting in their local residential home by a newly formed team of Anna Friends (who will be commissioned in February). The manager and the families had fed back how important these visits were for the wellbeing of the residents. She explained that God had brought this project into their hearts and then the Holy Spirit had inspired the members of the church to step forward to help.
'During the coffee break many attendees came to visit the stand and we had requests from five parishes to visit and talk more about the ministry of Anna Chaplains. What was really wonderful was that so many people already knew about us!'
Church Lead, Debbie Ducille, and network members have been involved in offering presentations and a marketplace presence in yet more locations.
Last week, an ecumenical group from Shirley in Birmingham met with her and local Anna Chaplain Debbie Gurling, to hear more about how Anna Chaplaincy, and how it might complement existing pastoral ministry on the patch.
‘Shirley presents an exciting but challenging context for our model of ministry,’ Debbie reflected, ‘as the number of sheltered accommodation, nursing and residential facilities are growing rapidly here. The churches in Shirley already do a great deal in serving older people: I really hope that Anna Chaplaincy might offer them a supportive framework for ongoing learning and best practice.’
And just last weekend, Peterborough diocese offered their annual Explore Day in Northampton; this was a chance for individuals to consider a variety of opportunities to serve their churches and communities in their own context. Local Anna Chaplains Liz Kelly and Sue Pinington, have regularly been present in the marketplace; this year saw a dozen or more people – lay and ordained, male and female - from across the diocese express interest in Anna Chaplaincy for themselves, or coming to find out more to supplement their existing ministry.
‘It was a pleasure to join Liz and Sue for the Explore Day, said Debbie Ducille,’ and to hear peoples’ stories of how God is speaking to them personally.’ Liz reflected:
‘I pray that some of them may be guided by the Spirit to take things further and may be led to becoming Anna Chaplains in the future. I'll keep you posted!’ -
Anna Chaplain, Liz Kelly.