Two newly-commissioned Anna Chaplains explain what led them to this point. Gaye Hailstone and Peta Cunnane are both Anna Chaplains in Yare Valley Benefice in the Norfolk Broads:
Our journeys to becoming Anna Chaplains were similar yet different. At a young age Peta realised, through her grandfather’s ministry in a retirement village, how important it was to support those with additional needs and older people on their spiritual journey. For Gaye it was at a much later stage in her life when her mother, a regular churchgoer, had to move to a residential care home for the last 18 months of her life, and during that time no representative from any church visited the home. It made her aware of the need to take God’s love to those who can no longer come to church.
God had sown the seeds of ministry for the elderly in both Peta and Gaye’s hearts and for the last few years Gaye has been involved in taking worship into residential care homes and Peta has helped with our Forget Me Not Café and their monthly church service.
Three years ago, we heard about Anna Chaplaincy. It’s a relatively new ministry for the elderly and those on the dementia pathway, which operates under the BRF umbrella. Anna Chaplaincy gives definition and identity to ministry for the elderly and those living with dementia. Their ethos and vision resonated with our own calling, and we initially joined the network as members. We knew that this was where we were being called to help us grow our own ministry. We were commissioned as Anna Chaplains by Bishop Jane (Bishop of Lynn, Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen) in September 2021.
We attended an Anna Chaplain training course (online) and are now growing in our new roles. Anna Chaplaincy is all about nurturing spirituality in its broadest sense, as an ecumenical, non-judgemental, person-centred, community-based way of offering spiritual care for older people of all faiths and no faith. What we offer as Anna Chaplains varies according to local needs: it includes one-to-one support, end-of-life support, prayer ministry, leading care home worship, leading Forget Me Not worship, supporting dementia activities, advocating for people with dementia and supporting carers.
As we write this, we pray that whether or not you sense that Anna Chaplaincy is right for your church and community, you will find ways to nurture and encourage faith and spirituality in older people.
(From an article appearing in their PCC News.)