St Mellitus ordinands learn about the spirituality of ageing and Anna Chaplaincy
Updated: May 23
I spent two very interesting days this week meeting and teaching first-year ordinands at both St Mellitus London and St Mellitus East Midlands in Nottingham (writes Debbie Thrower).
My given topic at both centres was 'Discipling the mature' and each of the afternoon sessions led to some great questions and discussions. For example, about the changing nature of old age in the decades to come; how to cultivate sufficient inner resources for an extremely long life, well into the 100s; ways to craft worship that genuinely engages young and old together; and how to even get started on ministry among older people when your church doesn't appear to have anyone over the age of 35 in the congregation!
One student told how she already has an Anna Chaplain working in her home parish in the Midlands, and that her ministry was 'inspiring.'
St Mellitus London's College director, Revd Dr Hannah Steele said: 'The students enormously valued your input, and we are so grateful that you could contribute on your important topic.'
Feedback from the Nottingham centre based at Trinity Church in the city, was equally positive: 'Thank you so much for coming to St Mellitus, East Midlands and sharing your gifts and expertise with our students – it benefitted them greatly and generated some fruitful thinking/discussion from what I gleaned!’
I have already been asked to cover the same subject next May 2023. That the 'Forge leadership programme' for ordinands includes Anna Chaplaincy's contribution to older people's ministry indicates the significance of this field of work when it comes to the students' future mission and ministry:
'In many churches those who are over 60 are a bedrock of the church's life, often active in volunteering and lay leadership. As this generation grows older so their needs differ and change and as the younger generation become the focus of the churches energy they can sometimes struggle to know their place. How can churches provide a safe community for those at this stage of life and help them to grow spiritually? This session will explore how to develop a caring ministry amongst the mature where older people can receive the pastoral and spiritual care they need as they grow older. Creative approaches will be considered about how to engage actively in mission and outreach to the older generation within the local community.'