All Saints Abingdon Logo Link
All Saints, Abingdon
Methodist Church
Back home  /  Events  /  Anna Chaplaincy

Anna Chaplaincy

community chaplain

At our Circuit Service on 5th February, we commissioned Wendy Moorin as our Anna Chaplain. Here she reflects on what Chaplaincy is, and in particular her role as an Anna Chaplain.

What is a Chaplain, and what do we think of when we see a Chaplain? In the media it is usually someone in a dog collar and either working in the armed services abroad, the police or hospices and hospitals. Now there are Chaplains in airports, shopping malls, football grounds, schools, universities and lots of other places.

What characteristics do you need to be a Chaplain? Be friendly and affirming, not pushy and be prepared to listen and learn and to engage with people where they are and on their terms.

What does an Anna Chaplain do? A very wide range of things but for me I think mainly it's just being there on a regular basis. The role chiefly is to nurture spirituality in its broadest sense. The Anna Chaplaincy comes under the auspices of the BRF so between them they produce a lot of helpful reading material, weekly podcasts and courses.

What are my qualifications? Apart from all my varied life experiences, I have done the Worship Leaders' course and a Discipleship Course, but for me I think the most useful one was the one on Listening Skills and of course it is an ongoing learning experience for me.

When I first looked into what it means to be a Chaplain, I learnt that a Chaplain is a Guest! I didn't know that and I wonder how many of you would have known? Thinking about it, how many of you are acting in a Chaplain's capacity to those you meet on a daily basis, both friends and strangers? I love that when it works well, the Pastoral Visiting Scheme which operates in our churches makes us Chaplains to our allocated group, but Chaplaincy works in a much wider context to those who have little or no faith. It is, like most roles, a continuous learning experience of being a 'guest'.

In my previous circuit in Buckinghamshire I volunteered and helped to organise a monthly service at a local care home. This went on for many years and I also became one of the Pastoral Visitors to members of the church. So without realising it I was being prepared and already doing 'Chaplaincy' work.

My husband and I moved to Wallingford in 2016; he had been diagnosed 4 years previously with Parkinson's Disease, and we realised we needed to downsize from our large family home in the High Wycombe and Marlow circuit where we had lived for over 50 years.

I was his carer for as long as I was able, but as his health deteriorated during 2018 it became obvious that he needed 24-hour nursing, and so he was moved to a local care home where he died in 2019. During the 6 months he was a resident I was drawn into getting to know and befriending many of the other residents. It all happened very naturally and gave me much happiness. So not long after he died, with time on my hands, I asked Sarah Ifill if I could shadow her in her Chaplaincy role to see what was involved.

Revd Keith Underhill then told me about the Anna Chaplaincy, which as he said is needed now more than ever before: so many old people are living alone and have few people to talk to and share their company. Those in care homes have lovely carers but they are kept so busy it's rare that they have time to sit and listen to them. I know that some residents have visitors but many don't and so are very lonely in spite of being well looked after physically. So the Anna Chaplaincy has been set up specifically to provide spiritual support, and to explore what are the key essentials for a contented end-of-life experience – which may include a faith aspect or it may not.

I hadn't previously heard of Anna Chaplaincy, so I thought I should see if this was where I felt I could be of use. I volunteered to give it a trial.

What do I do now? I visit William's Place in Didcot once a week on a Thursday when there is a coffee morning. William's Place is classed as Independent Living, and the residents have to be 75 or over and able to care for themselves. I I started visiting in 2019 just before the pandemic and I was just getting to know some people when everything was closed up and there were no more visits for nearly a year. I did write to some and telephone a few that I had got to know, but it hadn't really been long enough to form relationships. There are about 60 residents. They do change regularly with new people coming in and older people moving on, and so far I have probably met only about 20 of them. Many are still quite active and able to go out and about, and some prefer not to socialise and so stay in their apartments. There is a weekly Communion Service conducted by a local vicar. More popular are the quiz evenings and music evenings. So visits here are quite informal and we have lots of chats. When I occasionally have to miss a session I know they miss me. I know they respect me too – when talking about what sort of humour they liked, I suggested that someone might like to tell us a joke. They said they couldn't tell one in front of me, their jokes were too beneath the belt!

The Anna Chaplaincy Team put me in touch with a Christian lady moving into a care home in Abingdon. She is in a wheelchair and had visits from a Chaplain when she lived in Brighton. We have lovely chats and she is as much a Chaplain as I am. She knows everyone and makes the carers feel appreciated with her kind words, and she pops in to see all the bed-bound folk every day to say hello, tell them she's their friend and ask if there is anything she can do for them. She is teaching me a lot. We talk about prayer and about our life experiences. As with a lot of older folk, we often focus on the subject of the challenges of our health, our disabilities and our loss, but we do talk about the meaning of life and what we can still do as we lose some of our abilities.

'Do you read your Bible,' she asked me, 'and do you still believe all that stuff?' I explained that it's natural to have questions and doubts, as long as she knows that God loves her and loves us all, doubts and everything!

Life for her is a challenge but I come away from my visits feeling blessed to have spent time in her company.

Wendy Moorin

Get In Touch

01235 520282

All Saints Methodist Church
Appleford Drive
OX14 2AQ

There is free parking in our car park behind the Church in Dorchester Crescent.

Church Location

© 2024 – All Saints Methodist Church, Abingdon