Anna Chaplaincy

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Anna Chaplaincy

Since moving to Wantage, many of you have been asking Keith about Anna Chaplaincy and wondering what it might look like here in our churches and Circuit.

We are delighted to be able to invite you to a special event to be held in church on Saturday 30th September from 10:00am-3:00pm

The day will be lead by former broadcaster Debbie Thrower, the very first Anna Chaplain who now leads the BRF initiative, 'The Gift of Years resourcing ministry among those rich in age and experience'

Changing demographics mean there are growing numbers of people living in to their 80s, 90s and beyond. Responding to the phenomenon of longer life is a challenge for the ageing individual, for churches, and the towns and villages they serve.

This day unpacks the practical Anna Chaplaincy* approach to supporting older people and promoting well-being in old age.

It opens eyes to the possibilities of forging partnerships within communities, inspiring and equipping volunteers, creating 'church' where people are — whether they live alone, in sheltered homes, care homes or retirement complexes.

'Older People Matter'

'It's about embodying the love of God for people at every age and stage of their lives; countering anxieties about ageing and the prevailing attitude that getting old is almost a crime, and definitely 'downhill all the way'' says Debbie. 'Far from becoming invisible as we age we should be cherishing our older generations. Anna Chaplaincy is like planting a flag in town that reads 'older people matter.''

Debbie leads The Gift of Years programme to 'resource the spiritual journey of older people' for The Bible Reading Fellowship, BRF. She outlines a variety of community-based ways of building mission and ministry among older people and explore strategies to celebrate the contributions of people in the second half of life, while never under-estimating the reality of growing older in the 21st century and the fears associated with dementia.

This is a day to help lay people and ministers alike see valuing age as a desirable necessity, to give them tools to respond to the unprecedented changes. In twenty years' there will be double the number of people over the age of 85, in thirty years' nearly treble the number there are now.

Looking after 'orphans and widows' is a Biblical imperative, so the day includes some gentle reflection on the missional impetus for working among older women and men — whether they have strong, little, or no faith at all- as well as offering plenty of practical advice.

*The name Anna is taken from the widow Anna who appears with Simeon in St Luke's gospel.

Debbie Thrower helped pioneer the ecumenical Anna Chaplaincy model from 2010 in Alton, Hampshire with Circuit Superintendent the Revd Keith Underhill. Together they've seen the network of Anna Chaplains and those engaged in similar ministry stretch across the UK. Debbie remains an Anna Chaplain in Alton, part-time, and is a licensed lay minister, a lay canon and was, for many years, broadcasting for the BBC and ITV. You may remember her reading the news and presenting 'Songs of Praise,' but before you ask... she's NOT related to Percy Thrower!

To help us in our planning, please book your free place and register with keith.underhill@methodist.org.uk

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