Anna Chaplaincy based at Yare Valley Churches
Gaye Hailstone is one of four new Anna Chaplains commissioned by the Diocese of Norwich last year, and she explains something of the role.
Anna Chaplaincy is a nationwide initiative which works in partnership with the Bible Reading Fellowship. Anna Chaplains are named after the widow, Anna, who appears with Simeon in Luke’s Gospel. Both are good role models of faithful older people.
Gaye says: “Just imagine how you would feel if you were faced with never again being able to worship with others and hear God’s word, because you were no longer able to make the journey to Church. I think we can only imagine the feelings of pain and loss that would bring. I remember when my dear mum had to move into residential care, she spent the last two years of her life there and during that time not one member of the church visited the home to offer any sort of spiritual support. It made me aware of the need to take God’s love to those who can no longer come to church each week, and I think it was then that God sowed the first seeds of ministry for the elderly in my heart.
“It was about three years ago when I first heard of Anna Chaplaincy and as a Church we decided it was something we needed to know more about. Ministry for older people is not new in this diocese, but it can often be invisible and lack recognition and resourcing.
“It is a person-centred ministry for people of strong, little or no faith at all. It is intended to complement and run alongside, rather than replicate or replace, ministry already happening in churches. It gives definition and identity to ministry for the elderly and those on the dementia pathway. The Anna Chaplaincy ethos and vision resonated with our own calling, and we knew this was where we were being led to help us grow our own ministry.”
Gaye and three others were commissioned as Anna Chaplains by the then Dean Jane Hedges in October last year at Norwich Cathedral. The emphasis is on nurturing spirituality in its broadest sense, as an ecumenical, non-judgmental, community based spiritual care for older people, and those on the dementia pathway. Anna Chaplains are licenced to the local parish and are locally focussed.
The roles include one-to-one support, end of life support, prayer ministry, leading care homes worship, leading dementia friendly worship, supporting dementia activities, advocating for people with dementia and supporting carers.
Over the past few months a growing number of parishes within the Diocese have engaged with Anna Chaplaincy, and they have set up an Anna Chaplaincy network group to lead the local initiative.
If you would like more information or would like to explore Anna Chaplaincy further, please contact either Norwich Diocese Anna Chaplaincy Convenor email@example.com , or Rev Madeline Light, Norwich Diocese Anna Chaplaincy Co-ordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org
Gaye concludes “As I write this I 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.”
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