Resourcing the spiritual journey of older people

Julie Anna Williams and Emily Kenward commissioned as Anna Chaplains

Anna Chaplaincy has also spread to Brighton and Hove in East Sussex in the first weeks of 2019. It was a joyful and diverse gathering for the commissioning of two new Anna Chaplains. The event took place at Holland Road Baptist Church, Hove, last month.

Holland Road Baptist Church

Holland Road Baptist Church

Debbie Thrower and Julia Burton-Jones with Julie Anna Williams and Emily Kenward

Debbie Thrower and and Julia Burton-Jones with Julie Anna Williams and Emily Kenward

Debbie Thrower, Team Leader for The Gift of Years, joined the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Richard Jackson, for a strawberry cream tea for 45 people and the commissioning of Julie Anna Williams and Emily Kenward, officially launching the Time to Talk Befriending Anna Chaplaincy.

Bishop Richard Jackson with Debbie

Bishop Richard Jackson with Debbie

Emily Kenward, founder and CEO of the befriending charity, said both she and Julie were delighted to officially partner with the Anna Chaplaincy team at BRF, and to be able to offer the new dimension of spiritual care where appropriate.

Time to Talk Befriending is a grassroots Christian charity offering ‘intergenerational befriending creating lasting friendships to tackle the serious issue of loneliness. We achieve this by connecting like-minded volunteers with older people for friendship and company’.

As well as Julia Burton-Jones, Dementia Specialist Project Officer from Rochester Diocese, Kent, several members of our Anna Chaplaincy network also travelled to Hove for the occasion, including LouLou Morris, Anna Chaplain in Chichester, Beverley McArdle, Rest Homes Team Leader at Brighton and Hove City Mission, and Penny Naylor, Primetime Befriending Coordinator from Busbridge and Hambledon, Surrey. 

LouLou Morris, Beverly McArdle and Penny Naylor

LouLou Morris, Beverly McArdle and Penny Naylor

Julie Anna told the story of how in 2012, long before she knew she would one day become an Anna Chaplain, she was so inspired by the story of the prophetess Anna in Luke’s gospel that she had her second name changed by deed poll to ‘Anna’. It is a coincidence that has proved to be prophetic in many ways!

She has devised a kit to take out with her on her Anna ministry days that she’s calling ‘Church in a Box’.

Julie Anna with her 'Church in a Box'

Julie Anna with her 'Church in a Box'

Likewise, Emily confirmed that her own vocation to this ministry goes back several years: ‘As a new Christian back in 2011, before the charity even came to be, God planted a deep conviction in my heart for ministry among older people. He affirmed that his plans were big. And that, in partnership with others who have a similar heart for honouring, connecting and engaging with older people who experience feelings of deep loneliness – together we can make a difference.’

Crowds at the event were very diverse

Crowds at the event were very diverse

Bishop Richard gave thanks for all that is done to honour and support older people and prayed for the work of Emily and Julie to go from strength to strength in those parts of the south coast where there is such a high proportion of older people, many of whom are lonely and socially isolated.

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