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  • Debbie Thrower

Southampton's latest Anna Chaplain

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

Warm congratulations to Kathy Hyde, the latest recruit to work with the Anna Chaplaincy team through Southampton charity Caraway.

She was commissioned by the Revd Canon Dr Paul Moore, Winchester's Diocesan Archdeacon for Mission Development on Sunday 29 September. Also pictured with her is Anna Chaplain, Marion Hitchins, who works on the east side of the city.

Church Army

'I come with a Church Army background, although as an Anna Chaplain, I work out of the Caraway Charity rather than Church Army, but the two cross over a lot,' says Kathy.


'My husband is Captain Tim Hyde, who, as lead evangelist, runs the Southampton Centre of Mission, and I am a "covenanted evangelist" – this means I have done the same studies that the commissioned Church Army evangelists undertake. So I have a diploma from Durham University in Theology, Ministry and Mission, but I am not commissioned with them, so I work in a voluntary capacity.'


God's timing

'The studies have fed so well into what I do here in my own right, so it was really God's timing that a combination of events led everything to "dovetail" in together!


'I am so encouraged to find a growing number of people feeling some sort of call on their lives to ministry with older people, if not Anna Chaplaincy itself. The name, and the work, is getting known more and more!'



Kathy’s Interview at her Commissioning Service on 29 September 2019


Kathy, most people here today know you are, as a covenanted evangelist, part of Church Army’s Southampton Centre of Mission. Can you tell us something about your journey with God that brought you to being part of Church Army?

Tim was selected for Church Army training over 20 years ago, but as a family, we all took up the challenge. As a stay-at-home mum, I have always supported the work as fully and as best as I can, since the beginning.


Kathy, we have all been aware that you have spent the last four years studying with Church Army alongside their Evangelists in training to get a Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission. What was it that made you decide to do this, and how did you enable it to happen?

As our family became more off my hands, if I’m honest, I began to feel a bit left out and a bit jealous of the knowledge and insight that people in training were gaining. I seemed to have a hunger to learn not only more about the God I have given my life to, but also how I could support the Centre of Mission more efficiently and effectively.


I pushed a few doors and Church Army agreed that I could be a sort of 'guinea pig', that is, I could do the first year of training for free, to see how well their model suited people like me, who had not been through the selection process. After the first year I was so inspired and enjoying the studying so much that I set about raising my own funds to do the next three years. Those four years have been stressful but very worthwhile. I have found my faith to have deepened, and I have learnt so much that has been helpful in the centre of mission.


You’ve obviously felt God saying something to you more recently that has brought you to this point, where you are being commissioned as an Anna Chaplain here in Southampton. What was it that made you follow this path?

Basically, I came to it through the experiences we have had in the last five years or more, of helping my parents. My parents live in Kent. Many will know that my mum passed away in May this year.


In her late 80s, my mum gradually began to disintegrate before our eyes as she spiralled down into dementia, and mum and dad both experienced failing health, bewilderment, isolation, desperation, in fact all that Alzheimer’s so often brings, including the inability to connect with her lifelong faith, which incidentally is her legacy to me. Mum ended her days in a care home which she hated and couldn’t make sense of, and my dad, now nearly 90, is experiencing guilt, grief, isolation, loss and loneliness, alongside his own failing health.


Throughout Mum’s illness, I felt very comforted knowing that there were chaplains on hand for her, and I have been inspired by their care of mum, both in the residential home and in hospital at the end of her life. I started to realise that although I may not be able to be there regularly for my own mum, I can definitely be there for someone else’s loved one, and a sense of call to this work kind of emerged. I wanted to find out how I might be able to bring some comfort and hope to older people in their later years. I have since prayed twice with the dying, once with Marion [Hitchins] during a care home visit, and once by my own mother’s side. There was a time when I would have run away from this, but contrary to my expectations, it turned out I found the courage to go into those situations taking Jesus with me, and in fact those experiences have been a privilege and also profoundly moving. It is only through God that I could have found the strength to do those things.


How do you think God can use you in this new ministry? What are your hopes and dreams?

Firstly, none of what is going on is me. Look at me, I hate being in the limelight. It is all God, not me, and I am just one of a big team of like-minded people, doing their best to serve God and joining in with what he is doing.


Everything that happens is down to God, not me, but I hope I will be able 'to do all things through him who strengthens me'. God’s timing has been amazing – as my studies progressed, my mum’s predicament evolved, and I began to feel a sense of 'this is where I am needed'. It also made sense of a way I could use my studies. Meeting Marion about 18 months ago, and subsequently, Erica [Roberts] and the Caraway team, all happened just at a time when I was beginning to look for ways in which I could make a difference locally, and our meeting was clearly God’s timing, and showed me my way forward, as she is an active Anna Chaplain. We now have Classic Cuppa, whose numbers are increasing weekly, and have been taking regular services in care homes together, and we have had our first highly successful Holiday at Home not only here but in two other local churches. It all just seems to have hit the spot.


I am hoping that the combination of my personal experiences, my studies and my licensing as an Anna Chaplain will enable me to be more effective and to make more of a difference as I try to get alongside older people and show them something of Jesus and, perhaps, what a difference he can make to their lives both now and into eternity.


As a team getting alongside older people in our community, our hope is for the work we have started here to develop and expand, and continue long into the future, and that it will be able to be reproduced further inside the parish once we open the Restoration Project. Being Church Army, we dream big, and we don’t give up. We have big ideas for the Restoration Focus, and, I suppose, with my focus being particularly on ministering to older people, one of the dreams I have had for a long time now is for a Memory Café to run out of the building. We want to show our older community that we love and value all they are and have been – we all stand on the shoulders of giants – we don’t want to neglect or to forget them in their later years, and we want to empower them to live productive, meaningful and fulfilling lives, however that might look for them.


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