Meet our new Chaplains

On the 10th November, Befriended commissioned four Anna Chaplains at our wonderful event which we will tell you all about later in the newsletter.

Theodora, Clare, Will and Gail were licensed as chaplains and the service was led by Bishop Ruth Bushyager.  This is a very exciting and significant time in the journey of Befriended. The Befriended Chaplaincy team will be visiting care homes, taking services, offering communion and prayer for individuals.  

Here are the biographies of our four Chaplains:

Theodora Verner

I am married with four children. My eldest daughter Susie was diagnosed at twelve as having an incurable neurological disease. I went in search of God and met Jesus in the early 1980s. It was then that my life really began, and my husband and my mother then became Christians as did my children.

My son had cancer when he was 18 but praise God was healed, however, Susie my daughter had stopped talking at the age of 14 and became bedridden and at age 29 she died in my arms. We took a sabbatical year and went to Bible College in Yorkshire before coming back down south where I then returned to my nursing career and ran several care homes and set up dementia units. I was accepted as a magistrate sitting on the bench in Brighton and am still a supplementary Justice of the Peace.

When I retired I completed a chaplaincy course and became part of the chaplaincy team for Princess Royal and Kleinwort Hospitals in Haywards Heath which led to me becoming the leader of the team.

I have known Gail and supported her in her ministry at Torch for many years, and more recently have become closely involved in her work in Befriended. When she shared about the chaplaincy work they are beginning with Anna Chaplaincy, it was definitely something I felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to get involved with. I am very excited at being part of the Anna Chaplaincy team with Befriended and so pleased to be commissioned with them.

Clare Hobbis 

I relocated to Burgess Hill at the beginning of 2021 with my husband Steve, for him to become pastor of Gateway Baptist Church and I had been wondering about how best to use my time in Christian service. 

I heard about Anna Chaplaincy in the summer when I met Gail who works for Befriended, a charity working with the lonely and elderly. Gail mentioned that she wanted to start a new aspect of the work and form a team of Anna Chaplains. I have been involved in town centre chaplaincy in Watford and was inspired by what Gail had planned and felt excited about becoming involved in chaplaincy work again.

I have a heart for the elderly, and I have also been involved in running services in care homes with our previous church and coming alongside residents. I really feel called to this work as there is such a need to show, love, care and compassion to those who are lonely and vulnerable, and who need to know the love of Jesus. I want to make a difference in their lives just by being available and being a friendly face to hear their stories and life experiences and to show the love of Jesus to this very special generation from whom we can learn so much.

Revd Will Fletcher 

I have been a Methodist minister for just over seven years, and during that time I have developed a passion for ministering amongst older people. Most of my congregations have been predominantly older and I’ve loved the opportunities I have had to share with them on their journeys. 

In both my previous appointment (in Sheffield), and my current one, I have had opportunities of going into care homes and sheltered accommodation to minister amongst older people in pastoral visits and in leading acts of worship. They have so often been the times when I have felt most uplifted and assured of my calling to ordained ministry. Whilst in Sheffield I had the chance to take part in a short course at Cliff College called ‘Ministry Amongst Older People’. This had quite a lot of input from the Anna Chaplaincy team. It was the first time I had come across Anna Chaplaincy and, whilst being really interested, I wasn’t in a position to be involved. As we pray that we are coming through the pandemic, opportunities are beginning to open once more to minister amongst older people in various settings. Just as I had begun praying what this might look like I received contact from Gail about Befriended, and teaming up with them and Anna Chaplaincy just felt right. My wife, Helen, is also passionate about ministry amongst older people and teaches different sessions of dance and movement for older people. Whilst we are not often in the same sessions together, it is so good to know that we share in this same ministry.

Gail Millar

Having worked in Christian ministry for over 25 years, predominately with older people, I am excited and invigorated by the way that God weaves his will and plans through our lives.

My husband and I were invited to the launch of Anna Chaplaincy – at St Saviour’s Church, Knightsbridge, several years ago which was when I first met Debbie Thrower. 

That evening I was captivated by the vision of Anna Chaplaincy and soon made contact with Debbie who invited me to shadow her in her work for a few days in Alton. Sadly I was not in a position at that time to take up the role of an Anna Chaplain . In 2016 our paths crossed again when I was in a new role with the Salvation Army and we met at various events/conferences, but again I was still not in a position to take up the role of an Anna Chaplain. 

In 2021, I was made redundant from the Salvation Army and one of the first conversations I had was with Debbie. I knew that now was the right time to fulfil that calling/commitment that had begun well over ten years ago to become an Anna Chaplain for Older People. This coincided with my new role as CEO of Befriended.  All the services offered to our older people through Befriended addressed emotional, physical and mental wellbeing, so recognising and providing spiritual care was also essential. 

The perfect synergy was to bring Anna Chaplains to form a Chaplaincy team working with other church leaders as part of Befriended’s work and ministry.  I am thrilled to be part of a team of Anna Chaplains and together we pray that God will use us to bless the lives of many older people living in Mid Sussex.

If you would like one of our chaplains or the team to come to you please do get in touch with us and we will be delighted to visit you.