Celebrating Candlemas and the Commissioning of an Anna Chaplain
A very happy occasion took place in Holy Trinity, Haddington on February 4 2024. Not only was Candlemas celebrated but also the Commissioning of me, Judith Wilkinson, as Anna Chaplain to Haddington. I am only the second Anna Chaplain in Scotland and the very first within the Scottish Episcopal Church!
Here are some photos:
In the summer of 2023, I first learned about Anna Chaplaincy (AC) at a workshop shared with Maureen O’Neill of Faith in Older people (FIOP) and Debbie Ducille of AC. I was intrigued! As I had by that time been a Workplace Chaplain for 10 years, and I still am, and had for more than 30 years been part of a Pastoral Care Team within Holy Trinity, I was interested in pursuing a similar role within the local community. I undertook the online AC training course which led me to be Commissioned as an Anna Chaplain and I’m looking forward to establishing myself as Chaplain within the care homes of Haddington.
Anna Chaplaincy is about nurturing spirituality in its broadest sense. It is non-judgemental, person-centred spiritual care for older people of strong, little or no faith at all, in all faiths. The name “Anna” is taken from the woman who after only seven years of marriage, was widowed and spent the rest of her life in the Temple, praying and fasting and acknowledging, along with Simeon, that the baby Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
My journey towards Anna Chaplaincy really began when I was 14 (although I didn’t know it at the time!) when a visitor from Social Services, I think, came to our school asking for volunteers to join a “befriending programme” to the elderly, the sick and the lonely in our town. My best friend, Jen, and I decided this was something we could and wanted to do. We were each allocated one person to visit, who just happened to live on the same estate, so we decided it would be a good idea to visit both together. We were the only volunteers in the whole school and, within our own class, were the only church-goers. I like to think that was the discerning factor. Sadly Jen’s man died after a couple of years and Jen moved away but I continued to regularly visit my lady for more than 6 years until she moved away to live with a relative until she died. I seem to have discovered an affinity with the elderly and seem to be able to empathise quite easily . Since moving to Scotland in 1988, I naturally joined the Scottish Episcopal Church having come from the Church of England. Within 12 months I was asked to join the Lay Pastor Group which entailed visiting the sick, the elderly, the housebound, those in the only Care Home at the time and administering Holy Communion if so desired. It was obvious to me that if these folk are unable to get to church, then church must go to them to give them spiritual care, even if it only means Iistening, reading from scripture or praying together. Of course, all faiths or none are included in the care offered.
I find it very rewarding listening to these folks’ life stories and because they have lived long, interesting and sometimes eventful lives, they have knowledge and wisdom which is worth hearing and passing on to others. It is a joy for me to spend time with these lovely people and I hope that I can bring something worthwhile to them.
Although I have undertaken this work for many years, it was the obvious route for me to join Anna Chaplaincy and having the title “Anna Chaplain” gives my role a degree of authenticity. I just hope and pray that the Lord allows me a decent span of years to minister to others.