In a first for the Diocese, a group of Anna Chaplains have been commissioned to provide spiritual care to vulnerable people in the area.
Seven Anglicans from Newcastle and one from Durham were commissioned by Bishop Christine at an ecumenical service at Newcastle Cathedral in February.
Leaders from Methodist, Baptist and Hexham Community churches also commissioned members of their own congregations.
Most of the Anna Chaplains from our Diocese are also Readers many of whom, along with the other chaplains, have successfully completed a spiritual care course.
Anna Chaplains mainly work in care homes or in their community with the elderly, whose lives are challenged through dementia, physical restrictions or isolation. They also become chaplain to the families and staff of those they support.
The service was well attended by family and friends of those being commissioned, the music from Newcastle Chamber Choir was uplifting and the commissioning service designed by Canon Clare McClaren was very moving.
Joan Grenfell from St Georges Church, Jesmond has been commissioned as an Anna Chaplain. She explains a little more about the new role…
AN ANNA CHAPLAIN….EH?? So, what is an Anna Chaplain, Joan?
Ive been asked that question several times since the notice appeared in the pew sheet saying that I was to be commissioned as an Anna Chaplain.
Well, Im not surprised by the question because the Anna Chaplain ministry is very new to the Diocese and here at St. Georges.
The ministry is named after the faithful older woman, Anna, who appears with Simeon in Lukes Gospel on the day that the baby Jesus was brought into the temple and was revealed as the Light to bring light to the Gentiles and glory to the people of Israel.(Luke 2v 36-38).
The Diocesan Task Group under the banner, The Gift of Years, has been working for several years to establish this ministry in Newcastle.
Yes…. But what is it?
I would describe it as a ministry of spiritual care being offered to the elderly.As such I will be hoping to develop the ministry in the local care homes, as well as among the congregations of St. Georges.
Spirituality is about what has given us meaning in our lives…. our employment, our family, our garden, art, writing, music, our pets, as well as the familiar rituals of our faith.
Spiritual care then, is about listening in a non-judgemental way, and offering the opportunity, and time, to reflect on these things and be re-connected to what has given us meaning; and to reflect on how those experiences help us manage where we are at present on our journey.
The easier bit of this whole process for me, has been doing the spiritual care of the elderly course (which was excellent), and the actual commissioning by Bishop Christine.
The difficult bit will be the stepping into unchartered waters to work out how to best offer and develop this ministry.
I will need support and encouragement, and above all your prayers to take me forward in this calling.
I think I fit into the category of elderly myself…… so yes,God does have a sense of humour…. but also of trust and belief in those He calls….. no matter what their age!