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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

The ‘Anna Chaplaincy’ idea that just wouldn’t go away…

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Anna Chaplain, Revd Christina Westwell, with her father, Revd Geoff Buchan and flanked by Pauline Ridgway (left) and Margaret Cross (right), churchwardens.

Christina Westwell may have been an Anna Chaplain in Chester Diocese for several months but she chose to be commissioned at Candlemas, appropriately enough, the season when Simeon and Anna are celebrated in the church calendar. She was commissioned at St Mary’s and All Saints Great Budworth, in Cheshire where she is also the curate.

Her actual commissioning on Sunday was conducted by both her father, Revd Geoff Buchan and Margaret Cross, one of two churchwardens at the service.

There is a lovely short article on the church’s Facebook page about the commissioning too.

Meanwhile, we asked Christina, the self-confessed ‘queen of the notebook’, to introduce herself:

‘I live in the parish of Barnton right next to the Trent and Mersey Canal, but I am the associate minister at St Mary’s Great Budworth and St Mark’s Antrobus. I was ordained in 2017 having been a lay reader for the previous 20 years. I am self-supporting, having been a solicitor for 17 years and a teaching and learning assistant since 2018.

‘I am married to David and we have a son Nathaniel. My parents just live down the road.

I am the “queen of the notebook” – I am always writing lists and jotting things down, and over ten years ago I read about Anna Chaplains. I wrote “Anna Chaplaincy?” in a notebook. At the end of every notebook, I transfer anything that is outstanding into the new one. Every new notebook had the same words with a question mark.

‘I have always spent time with older people. I was exceptionally close to my maternal grandmother who was vital in the nurturing of my faith and my great uncle was a Methodist local preacher and I would travel with him to different chapels.

‘When I was ordained, Alec my training incumbent, asked me if I would look after several people who were in nursing homes and I realised that this was an area of ministry that I wanted to develop. My aunt has dementia and as I cared for her during lockdown, God laid on my heart that I needed to learn more about how to support older people. As I could not visit people in lockdown, I spent hours on the phone just chatting with people and learning more about their journeys. I love talking, my son says it is one of my superpowers, and I am naturally curious about people. To me, it is such a great privilege to be invited into people’s lives and listen to their stories.

‘During lockdown, I was looking at my many notebooks and asked myself why there was a question mark after Anna Chaplain and why I was not doing anything about it. I approached BRF and started the training which was absolutely amazing.

‘I undertook the Anna Chaplaincy training some time ago but I wanted to be licensed at Candlemas. I was licensed by my Dad, Geoff, who is also a priest, surrounded by my incredibly supportive church.’




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