A milestone and a collapsed wall
A new phase for BRF’s ministry to older people – and how John found his calling
A new phase for Anna Chaplaincy
The population is changing. The number of people over the age of 85 will have doubled in 20 years.1 Of all the babies born now, a third will live to see their 100th birthday.2 Many of them will experience extreme loneliness.3 That’s why BRF encourages pastorally gifted people to consider becoming an Anna Chaplain, offering spiritual support to older people who are living in residential care or in sheltered accommodation or who are struggling to live independently.
So central are Anna Chaplains to BRF’s work with older people that, in July 2019, its programme The Gift of Years relaunches as Anna Chaplaincy for Older People. Anna Chaplaincy works with churches and regional denominational groupings to nurture a network of people with the specific skills, expertise and compassion to address the spiritual needs of those in later life. People like John, who here shares his journey to becoming an Anna Chaplain.
How a collapsed wall helped John find his calling
John is a lay worship leader with special interest in older persons’ ministry, living in the north west of England. As well as distributing Holy Communion by extension to the sick and housebound in his local parish, John is ‘chaplain to our local nursing home, where I lead a weekly inclusive Communion service for the residents, staff and visitors'.
This is the story of how John became an Anna Chaplain.
A hidden sign reveals God's answer
'The dreaded wall beckoned again, and on the way, for the first
'I called the home and asked the manager if they would like support and contact with the church; they said they would be very grateful. I then spoke with our vicar, Ruth, over the way forward. We had a meeting together at the home and discussed the residents’ needs and what we could provide. Ruth and I sat down and designed a service book, and the following week my first visit took place.
Anna Chaplaincy is growing!
Anna Chaplaincy is led by Debbie Thrower, a former BBC broadcaster and Anglican licensed lay minister. She first developed the Anna Chaplaincy model of spiritual care to older people nine years ago, as an ecumenical initiative in Alton, Hampshire. The programme now:
1. Age UK
2. Ageing, Longevity and Demographic Change: a fact-pack of statistics from the international longevity centre, 2013
3. Age UK statistics say 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely and 200,000 have not had a conversation with friends or family for an entire month.