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  • Debbie Thrower

Tenth anniversary celebrations!

Updated: Feb 12


For several months we liaised with cathedral staff, and at last the day came to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Anna Chaplaincy with a candlelit Candlemas carol service.


Four hundred orders of service had been printed, and I watched from my seat in the choir stalls as they were handed out, face after new face arriving – many of them familiar supporters, well-wishers, network members, and many coming from as far away as Kent, the Midlands, London and, of course, from Alton in Hampshire, where the story began in 2010.


It was amazing to be worshipping in such a hallowed space and giving thanks for all that’s been achieved in the past ten years. Our hopes and prayers for the next decade are that the coming years will see us getting ever closer to our goal of an Anna Chaplain in every small- to medium-sized community in the land, and achieving financial sustainability for Anna Chaplaincy long into the future. The chief executive of BRF, Richard Fisher, is a Canon of Christ Church, so it was obvious that he should read the Bible passage central to the Candlemas story from Luke 2.


I led the service prayers and gave a short reflection. The Revd Helen Jesty succeeded me as the first Anna Chaplain in Alton, and she read beautifully Nicola Slee's poem, Anna, which has been such a personal inspiration to this ministry. Julia Burton-Jones, the Anna Chaplaincy Lead in Rochester and Canterbury Dioceses and an expert on dementia, was a most appropriate choice of reader for our final reading The Key by poet John Killick. John's style of working is to listen to the actual words of people living with dementia over many months and then craft a poem by paring it down – he says his golden rule is to never to add, only take away.


Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

We were so grateful to the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, for preaching on this auspicious occasion. He said he believed ‘Anna Chaplaincy to be a profound, prescient and prophetic sign for our age. Isolation, alienation and loneliness are some of the biggest challenges we face in our age. Despite our highly "networked society", many find – for a variety of reasons – that they are more distant then ever from their neighbours, relatives and any immediate sources of support. The impact of this on our social well-being, and on people’s health in general, is a growing concern.’


About 90 of us packed into the Deanery after the service for a delightful time of catching up with old friends and introducing people to new people with whom they share common interests.


The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy

A sample of feedback following the event:


‘A big thank you for organising the very special service at Christ Church Cathedral yesterday. It was good to gather. Grateful for all that God has been doing through Anna Chaplaincy around the country – like an iceberg, mostly unseen.’


‘The way in which your vision and hard work have been blessed and grown in the decade since you began is amazing. It has been quite a ride, and you must wonder how you would have felt had you known back then the direction in which your calling was taking you!’


‘What a wonderful gathering of enthusiastic members of the ever-growing Anna Chaplaincy network, in such a fantastic setting, with great input from all those involved.’


To read the latest BRF update featuring news of our Candlemas Celebrations, which has links to the sermon, prayers and reflection, click here.


  1. Acknowledgement: Image on Order of Service The Holy Family, Bartolomeo Schedoni (1578–1615) © Christ Church Picture Gallery


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