‘The longer they live, the brighter they shine’
Helping churches 'wake up' to older people's ministry
Onwards and upwards
'The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine'
Sally Bates, a new member of BRF’s Anna Chaplaincy network, has taken this encouraging translation of Proverbs 4:18 as the 'motto' for her work as associate pastor with particular responsibility for over-65s, at Frinton Free Church in Essex. It’s a vision for faith in later life that inspires many following the Anna Chaplaincy model to offer spiritual care to those in their later years (and to carers).
BRF’s ministry to older people is going from strength to strength - from just one Anna Chaplain in a single Hampshire town in 2010, there are today 93 in these community-based roles supporting older people across the country (some calling themselves Anna Chaplains; others going by a different name). Now constant enquiries are keeping BRF’s Anna Chaplaincy team busy as they clock up the miles across Britain to visit interested churches. Debbie Thrower, BRF’s Anna Chaplaincy Pioneer, explains...
'Churches also recognise that those who have been lifelong disciples have much to teach younger generations. Once a church (of whatever denomination) lets us know they’re interested, we arrange to visit - ideally to hold a public meeting so the widest spectrum of people in the community can hear more and be inspired. We give advice on how to recruit the right person - they could be male or female, lay or ordained. Every Anna Chaplain is accountable to a church which line-manages and prays for them; the chaplain is sent out on behalf of a praying community, in whose name the work is done.'