Why not an Anna Chaplain in every town?
Updated: Aug 26
Christian Today, the UK's largest online Christian news provider, headlines an article highlighting the work of Anna Chaplains: 'Meeting the needs of older people in our churches and beyond' .
Journalist Peter Crumpler asks, 'Many churches employ children's workers or youth leaders – but how many have appointed people to minister specifically to the older people in their congregation and beyond?'
He describes how in St Albans, north of London, two Methodist churches have joined together to recruit an 'Anna Chaplain' to help meet the needs of seniors in local church congregations and beyond.
Maggie Dodd is the first Anna Chaplain in Hertfordshire. In a recent interview with Dr Nighat Arif on BBC Three Counties Radio, she said: 'Our vision is that older people are cherished and supported within their church communities, and also beyond in the wider community.
'Often you have people who used to attend church, and they've become a little more frail and not able to attend or they've moved to a care home or sheltered housing, and they just lose touch with what's going on. They're not able to take themselves to church anymore.
'We want to make sure that these older people still feel part of a church community, even though they may not be as able as they were.'
The article emphasises the point that 'Anna Chaplains are a ministry of Christian charity, the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), who have a vision "to see an Anna Chaplain in every small and medium-sized community in the country, and for the Anna Chaplain name to become synonymous with spiritual care for older people."'
Revd Peter Crumpler is a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, UK, and the author of Responding to Post-truth.