WHAT IS ANNA CHAPLAINCY
Anna Chaplaincy is a ministry focused on providing spiritual care in later life. As a grass-roots pastoral expression of practical love and care, it is a gift from the church to its local community and is initiated, organised, and held accountable by that local church, or a group of churches.
The way the ministry is shaped is always contextually driven. It is person-centred, non-judgemental chaplaincy among older people, who may be of strong, little or no faith at all. While many older people may have religious needs, every person has spiritual needs, and Anna Chaplaincy is complementary to (rather than replicating) existing pastoral visiting within the church.
The key to any Anna Chaplain’s ministry is active listening, prayerful accompaniment, and advocacy; championing the contribution of older people to church and society, offering lifelong discipleship opportunities for those of faith, and enabling every older person to ‘finish well’.
Named after Anna who received Jesus as a child in the temple, alongside Simeon, Anna Chaplaincy began in 2010 as an ecumenical initiative between two churches. As the ministry took shape and proved to be a practical model that could be replicated anywhere, it was taken up and developed by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship). The vision is to see an Anna Chaplain in every small to medium-sized community, urban and rural, across the UK.
While society (and the church, generally) has been ageing rapidly, there’s been a focus on children, young families and youth, leaving many older people (and those who minister among them) feeling beyond general interest and concern and with a growing sense of isolation and invisibility. By offering an ecumenical, community-based approach to promoting the spiritual welfare of all older people, Anna Chaplaincy has become ‘home’ for many who have exercised similar ministry over the years, as well as those discovering a fresh vocation to work among older people.
The charity provides a flexible, supportive framework, practical resources and training that allows Anna Chaplains and their Anna Friends volunteering alongside them to feel affirmed and to serve more effectively in this vital form of missional engagement. The number of Anna Chaplains and those in equivalent roles (paid and voluntary) across the UK currently stands at 225, plus approximately 400 Anna Friends (volunteers in support roles).
Anna Chaplaincy is fast becoming a trusted voice in this area; just one example is a new, high-quality resource due to launch in the UK through BRF later this year. The Spiritual Care Series offers a comprehensive introduction to enabling people to offer good quality spiritual care in their local communities. The course has been developed in Australia but features Professor John Swinton (University of Aberdeen) as the lead tutor, covering a wide range of subjects such as spirituality in ageing, dementia, grief and loss, setting boundaries and self-care. This excellent teaching tool is suitable for church groups, chaplains and care providers seeking to develop their own good practice. https://www.annachaplaincy.org.uk/spiritual-care-series