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Anna Chaplaincy comes to Ely Diocese

On Sunday 23 April 2023 Elizabeth Bryson was commissioned to be an Anna Chaplain serving in Downham Market and District, during a service at St Edmund’s Downham Market by the Rector Fr James Mather.

Elizabeth then preached the Sermon about Anna Chaplaincy, Care Home Ministry and the Bible readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter. 

Anna Chaplaincy is a growing ecumenical Chaplaincy giving spiritual care to older people which is resourced, developed and promoted by BRF, Bible Reading Fellowship. ‘Offering spiritual care in later life BRF’s Anna Chaplaincy ministry is an ecumenical, community-based, chaplaincy network promoting the spiritual welfare of older people, for people of strong, little or no faith at all. Anna Chaplains support older people and their carers wherever they may be – in residential care, in congregations, in their own homes and in the community. BRF’s rapidly expanding Anna Chaplaincy network inspires, connects and equips churches, individuals and other groups involved in this ministry nationwide. Their work includes developing the Anna Chaplaincy model of best practice, offering training, resources and meet-ups, and advocating at a national level.’

Elizabeth writes about her journey and aspirations:

I started my Care Home Ministry in 2013. As a LLM in our Parish in Maidenhead, I led services in a care home and at a day centre. When I first went into a care home to help lead a service, I had a strong sense that Care Home Ministry was where God was calling me to serve. In 2017 we moved to Maidstone, where my husband Fr Neil was a Vicar, I led services in three care homes in the Parish. I was pleased to discover about Anna Chaplaincy. After extra studying about the spiritual care of the elderly I was commissioned as an Anna Chaplain in September 2019, at Canterbury Cathedral.  I spoke in the Cathedral about the importance of Care Home Ministry; sharing that all care home residents are parishioners in a Parish and they should be receiving spiritual care and Church Services. My focus has been care home ministry and the house-bound former Church-goers living at home. We are ‘Anna’ Chaplains - remembering the elderly Anna who met and recognised baby Jesus and told others about him at the Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2: 36-38). Anna Chaplaincy values and respects the elderly.

In Maidstone I co-ordinated care home ministry across 2 Deaneries with 25 care homes; ensuring every care home had a Church contact. I also mentored and trained people to lead care home services, and planned care home services which I shared with others. During the Covid pandemic, I organised the delivery of DVD recordings of church services to be delivered to the care homes, and led individual telephone services and Skype Services for Care Homes. It was important for the residents to be reminded that Jesus loves them and is with them.  We moved to Downham Market in August 2022, and I am so glad that I have now been commissioned as an Anna Chaplain to serve in Downham Market and District.

I care deeply that residents in care homes should be receiving spiritual care, Church Services and that former communicants receive Home Communion. They cannot go to Church so the Church needs to go to them. I am pleased to be the first Anna Chaplain in Ely Diocese and I hope to encourage more people to become Anna Chaplains and give spiritual care to older people in their own homes and in Care Homes. It is great to be part of a growing network of others who care deeply about the spiritual care of older people. I look forward to pioneering Anna Chaplaincy in Ely Diocese.

Elizabeth has already met with the managers and activity co-ordinators in three Downham Market care homes and has started leading care home services for two of them. She has also been asked to speak about Anna Chaplaincy at the next Deanery Synod Meeting and at a meeting of Downham Market Churches Together.

There are many people across the diocese that are already meeting the spiritiual and religious needs of residents of care homes, and Elizabeth is keen to advocate for others to look at Anna Chaplaincy training, to link up with others as part of a network of Anna Chaplains. You don't need to be an LLM or Clergy to become an Anna Chaplain. Bishop Dagmar has signed a head license agreement for Anna Chaplains to be commissioned across the diocese of Ely, enabling others across the diocese to join Elizabeth!

Page last updated: Wednesday 14th June 2023 6:50 AM
First published on: 18th May 2023
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