Could you be an Anna Chaplain?
Meet Marion, an Anna Chaplain from Southampton.
What makes an Anna Chaplain?
BRF’s ecumenical Anna Chaplaincy network is much more diverse than its namesake – the faithful older woman who received the infant Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:36-38) – suggests. This community-based model for ministry to older people attracts a wide range of dedicated people: men and women of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the UK. In fact, they're not even all called ‘Anna Chaplains’ – many discover our model having already been doing this work under another name.
Anna Chaplains do have to be good listeners and part of a congregation who will support them as in turn they support older people in the community (of strong, little or no faith at all).
Take Marion (pictured below, right, with Revd Dr Erica Roberts), an Anna Chaplain based in Southampton. She explains how over the years, unknown to her, God was preparing her to work in this ministry...
A call to the poor, the weak and the vulnerable
As my children grew up, however, I realised that God was calling me to go out into my community and love the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. At this time I worked full-time for my church, as the manager of a community centre. We hosted all sorts of activities, from breakfast and lunch for the homeless, to toddler clubs, Bible studies, clubs for those with physical disabilities, youth clubs, a specialist group for people with learning disabilities and groups for older people. I feel that this time in my life gave me a very broad experience of working alongside many different people, some of whom were the weakest and most vulnerable in our community, and that this experience supports my current ministry.
I have always enjoyed learning and undertook as much training as I could, to give me a better understanding of the various areas I was working in. The courses that stand out now as particularly relevant to my current work among older people are the Acorn Trust listening course and my training in Christian counselling. Both these courses helped me develop skills as a reflective listener, which is such an important part of chaplaincy work. I also spent two years at Bible college, one as a student and one on their ministry team.
Just as I retired from being a disability team administrator, Revd Dr Erica Roberts was commissioned as the older people's chaplain for Southampton, and I started to work as part of the team going into care homes to take church services.