Christmas joy brought to care home residents

First published on: 21st December 2021


The team at St Barnabas Church in St Paul's Cray have been delighted to be able to return to their local residential home this Advent to share worship and Christmas companionship with the residents.

The occasions have been organised by the church's Anna Chaplain, Sue Proctor. Anna Chaplaincy is a pioneering ministry in the Diocese dedicated to the spiritual needs of older people, particularly those with dementia and other end-of-life issues. 

Throughout the pandemic, Anna Chaplains and their supporting churches, have sought creative ways to adapt their ministry to care homes. This has included parishes providing details of how residents can access virtual services via Smart TVs and tablets, and Anna Chaplains even delivered pre-recorded services on DVDs. 

For Sue, the December services have been particularly poignant: "It has been very special, as it was the first time we had been inside Baycroft Grays Farm Road, since March 2020.

"We had kept up our contact in several ways such as a number of outdoor singing sessions at Christmas last year and Easter this year."

Light, was the focus of one recent Advent service, with residents invited to think about light in the Christmas story in a number of ways; as a lantern to light the path of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds seeing a great light, and the Magi following the star.  A tea light was given to each resident as a symbol of Jesus being the light of the world.

The church was also able to provide a carol concert, with the help of members of the church worship band.

"We were received so happily," says Sue, "and several residents sang and clapped along with us, one or two using the carol sheets, some singing from memory, many of the residents have dementia."

"We are hoping and praying that in the new year we can resume our monthly Worship sessions but we are conscious that we continue to be in a time of great uncertainty. The prospect of a few residents joining us on Sundays again and at our monthly Thursday Club seems far off but we all live in hope."

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