Two more Anna Chaplains commissioned at the weekend... this time in Kent!
Updated: Jun 8
Lockdown meant the postponement of the commissioning of two new Anna Chaplains in the Folkestone, Kent. But on Sunday (30 May 2021) both Heather Parsons and Bill Mills were commissioned at a service in the Trinity benefice conducted by the Bishop of Dover, the Right Revd Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin. Many well-wishers – in person and online – were also taking part, praying for their ministries in the town.
'We both feel that our Anna journey, which started in 2019, was put on hold due to Covid-19, so being commissioned feels that we've finally arrived! We have lots of plans to serve our community in Folkestone and we ready to go out and do whatever is necessary. The service has given us confidence and authority to do this as Anna Chaplains,' they said.
Bill and Heather were supported at the service by Judith Andrews, Anna Chaplain in Ramsgate and member of the diocesan Anna Chaplaincy working group.
We asked Heather and Bill to tell us about their journey towards becoming Anna Chaplains.
'I live within the Canterbury Diocese,' writes Heather, 'and have been a member of my church, St George’s, Folkestone, part of the Trinity Benefice, for nearly 40 years! Some years ago it was suggested by my priest to go forward for Authorised Lay Ministry (ALM) training in Pastoral Care. I found the experience very humbling and enlightening; this was followed by further training for funeral ministry and allows me to conduct funerals and minister to those who are grieving.
'I have been truly blessed in serving my community and beyond with pastoral care issues, setting up care in individuals' homes, accompanying those who have hospital appointments, arranging all manner of appointments for folks to have their house in order. I am a pair of eyes, ears and on occasions a voice.
'I was fortunate to hear about Anna Chaplaincy and met with Julia Burton-Jones to discuss where I felt I was being called, and through prayer I was given the opportunity to train as an Anna Chaplain.'
'My training was conducted on Zoom throughout the pandemic with more than 20 others from many parts of the country, who like me are now being commissioned. My calling has enabled me to assist many who are infirm and no longer able to attend their church. Covid-19 restrictions have curtailed physical visiting, but phone calls, letter writing and Zoom chats have made contact possible.
'I am assisting with monthly Zoom services in one particular care home which has a dementia unit. Being commissioned as an Anna Chaplain, I now have an identity which will allow me to approach many other local homes.
'When further restrictions on groups meeting are lifted, I and fellow Anna Chaplain, Bill, are planning a monthly lunch club, where those who are feeling lonely, isolated and unsure can come together and share a meal and most importantly fellowship.
'The world is adjusting to new ways of doing things – I see my role as an Anna Chaplain helping others who are scared, afraid and needing someone who can listen.
'I say, "Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity."'
'I knew instantly that this was what I was being called to do'
'My name is William (Bill) Mills. I have been married to Jenny for 42 years and have lived in Folkestone for nearly 45 years.
'I have been attending Holy Trinity Church in Folkestone for the past 15 years and was, up until 2018, churchwarden. I am now churchwarden at St George’s Church, Folkestone, which is part of the Trinity Benefice.
'From my early teens I have felt called to work in the church. However ,like many things in life, ideas change. It was not until 2017 that I started on my journey to explore what I felt I was being called to do. I completed a Deepening Discipleship course. During the course we had to complete a questionnaire called Five Fold Ministry. This was to determine the type of ministry we were likely to follow either as an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher. Having completed this, I found that mine came out as a Pastor.
'Several months later and having finished my wardenship at Holy Trinity, I had time to think on my future within the church. This led me to look at the possibility of becoming an Authorised Lay Minister (ALM). Having discussed this with Reverend Bob in some detail I embarked on my training. I did find that I had my doubts about things along the way, but I had really good friends, inside the church and out who knew how much this meant to me and encouraged me to go forward. In December 2019 I was commissioned as an ALM and as a newly commissioned ALM, I had to look at how I would fit within the ministry team at Holy Trinity and how best I could serve our congregations and community.
'I have always considered pastoral work as extremely important within the church, and I realise that for various reasons this it is not always possible for clergy to do this themselves. During my training I realised just how many housebound elderly welcome a visit and for someone to show an interest in them. I found this experience to be very moving.
'I undertook a training course in pastoral care run by the diocese and during this time it became much clearer as to where my ministry would lie. Soon after this the idea of Anna Chaplaincy was presented to us and I knew instantly that this was what I was being called to do.
'I feel now that I have found my true calling, just why it took 40 years is only known to one. I am just grateful to have the opportunity to serve within the benefice and the diocese.'
'Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, :Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?: And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8