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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

St Albans Anna Chaplaincy - 'an ecumenical beacon in the city'

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

A strong ecumenical line up supporting those newly-commissioned *

Last night saw an ecumenical celebration of the growth of Anna Chaplaincy in the city. Maggie Dodd who is the first full-time Anna Chaplain in the country had her ministry reaffirmed as she was commissioned as the Anna Chaplaincy Lead for the city.

Jane Perrott being commissioned as an Anna Friend by Revd Daniel Yovan with Maggie Dodd, Anna Chaplaincy Lead for St Albans

Maggie has now drawn a team together to support the work across St Albans. They are the Revd Canon Dr Ruth Goatly, and Peter Curtis. While volunteering alongside them is also newly-commissioned Anna Friend, Jane Perrott. The work has been described as 'an ecumenical beacon in the city.'

Maggie Dodd and Debbie Thrower

It was a moving service - so well attended by supportive local clergy - at which I was privileged to be asked to preach,' (writes Anna Chaplaincy founder and Pioneer, Debbie Thrower).

'It was good to meet with those who had first hatched the plan for Anna Chaplaincy to develop in the area. Among them, Denise Willingham from Hatfield Road Methodist Church, who along with the Revd Rosemary Fletcher I first met when we all attended a meeting on a wet night in Aylesbury, back in 2018, to see what could be done to fund a full-time post.'

The service on Sunday (October 22) was held at Marlborough Road Methodist Church (one of Maggie’s supporting churches, along with Hatfield Road Methodist Church).

'I told everyone a little of the origins of Anna Chaplaincy' said Debbie, 'and paid tribute to a former Bishop of St Albans, the Right Revd Dr Christopher Herbert, who has now retired to Surrey and has been such an encourager of Anna Chaplaincy. He wrote the Foreword to the Anna Chaplaincy Handbook which is the training manual for the more than 360 people who have undertaken the training.'

Also present was the city’s Mayor and Mayoress, along with the Circuit’s Superintendent and the Archdeacon of St Albans.

Since her appointment, Maggie has been growing local links with care homes, sheltered housing developments, and with many stakeholder groups in the community. I explained how Maggie and her new colleagues are now part of a network that is more than 320-strong made up of Anna Chaplains from across the country, from different Christian denominations, all working to support people spiritually in later life.

'One of the first people to great me at the church' said Debbie, was a relative of Albert and Gill Jewell, (Gill's younger sister, in fact) who told me that the couple were married at Marlborough Road Methodist Church. What a nice coincidence, as Albert, of course, has been another great encourager of Anna Chaplaincy. The Revd Dr Albert Jewell was a staff member at Methodist Homes, MHA, and runs the dementia network for the charity Christians on Ageing .

We congratulate Maggie on all the links she is forging between the different churches in St Albans, made visible by the many clergy representatives who came from far and wide to take part in Sunday's service, and mingled with the congregation over refreshments afterwards.

The Christmas projects Maggie has run in the last few years, bringing young and old together to make gifts for older care home and sheltered home residents and staff - have reminded them, especially during the pandemic, that they are not forgotten.

'We wish Maggie, Peter, Ruth and Jane all good wishes for their future ministry in the city.

*Top photo caption:

The Revd Mark Dearnley, Vicar of St Peter’s, St Albans, Revd Wendy Sellers, Vicar of St Leonard’s, Sandridge, Revd Daniel Yovan, Methodist Minister for St Albans, Mrs Jane Perrott – Anna Friend, supported by Hatfield Road and Marlborough Road Methodist Churches Mrs Maggie Dodd – St Albans Anna Chaplaincy Lead, supported by Hatfield Road and Marlborough Road Methodist Churches, Mr Peter Curtis – Anna Chaplain, supported by St Peter’s, St Albans, Revd Canon Dr Ruth Goatly – Anna Chaplain, supported by St Mary’s Marshalswick and St Leonard’s, Sandridge, the Mayor and Mayoress of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Anthony Rowlands and Annie Stevenson, Canon Debbie Thrower, Anna Chaplaincy Founder and Pioneer, Revd David Jebb, Superintendent of the St Albans and Welwyn Methodist Circuit and Methodist Ecumenical Officer for Hertfordshire and the Venerable Charles Hudson, Archdeacon of St Albans




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