Certificate in Ministry Among Older People

It’s good news we’re living longer and with it come substantial challenges. We are a rapidly ageing population here in the UK. This Cliff College Short Course shows that ministry among older people is not just a desirable option but a pressing necessity. Headlines scream: ‘Social care crisis,’ ‘NHS stretched to the limit,’ ‘Demographic time-bomb’ and the statistics are eye-popping (Age UK):

  • The population aged over 75 is projected to double in the next 30 years
  • The number of people aged 60 or over is expected to pass 20 million by 2030
  • There are 11.8 million people aged 65 or over in the UK

Longevity is also a cause for celebration- a spiritual dividend of wisdom and experience. Church has always existed to remind people there is more than one way of looking at life, to offer a fuller frame of reference, a way of growing up in Christ. Living longer offers the prospect of going on growing spiritually.

Cliff College is delighted to be again running this Short Course in Ministry Among Older People with our partners The Bible Reading Fellowship, under the leadership of Debbie Thrower.

Anna Chaplaincy and Debbie Thrower


Debbie Thrower is Founder & Pioneer of The Bible Reading Fellowship’s, Anna Chaplaincy – a programme dedicated to supporting older people emotionally and spiritually and expanding the network of Anna Chaplains and their equivalents working ecumenically in communities throughout the UK.  Debbie, a former broadcaster, travels all over Britain opening people’s eyes to the contribution made by older people and outlining ways to support people in their later years; fresh ideas to nurture those living with dementia, and to combat loneliness. Debbie is a Church of England licensed lay minister (LLM) and Canon Emeritus of Winchester Cathedral.

‘Anna Chaplaincy reaches the parts that other priests haven’t reached!’

‘Thank-you for a most stimulating day course, filled with ideas and enthusiasm for recognising the value of ‘years’ and the spirituality and gifts of older people.’ 

Course Details

The course is led by Debbie Thrower, with contributions from Julia Burton-Jones, Dementia Specialist Project Officer for the Diocese of Rochester, and Cliff College staff. There is time for personal reflection and social space, as well as teaching delivered via lectures, seminars and workshops with practical as well as theoretical applications. The course aims to enable new learning and provide the student with skills and resources for individual or church based ministry among older people.

The course is for those wanting to see a deepening discipleship in later life. It will inspire, equip and enable people to work in their communities to improve the spiritual lives of older people. Sessions cover aspects of the spirituality of ageing, the spiritual care of people living with dementia, how to enhance pastoral skills such as attentive listening.

The course suggests ways churches can support older people better and outlines the tried-and-tested approach of Anna Chaplaincy to Older People (named after the faithful widow Anna in Luke’s gospel) that’s developing across the UK. Anna Chaplains – men and women, lay or ordained – and volunteers working with them are supporting people living in residential care and those struggling to live independently in their own homes.

Sessions are tailored to boost the confidence and skills of people with a heart for ministering to people in the second half of life, as well as church leaders keen to develop their mission and ministry among the growing numbers of men and women in the so-called Third and Fourth Ages.

‘As part of our partnership with The Bible Reading Fellowship, we are really looking forward to again working with Debbie Thrower and Anna Chaplaincy on this  deeply important course. Ministry among older people is not just a desirable option but a pressing necessity, and this course provides some of the necessary training into this key area of ministry.’Ian White; Programme Leader; Short Course Programme, Cliff College.

Students say of the Short Course certificate programme: “It was all totally invaluable and I wouldn’t change a thing.” “Informative, challenging, reflective, resourcing, encouraging, enabling and empowering.” “It will be hard to hold me back on things I will do!  I need to go back, reflect, pray, discern the next steps.  But as a ‘way of doing and being’, it’s been brilliant to take that away.”

Participants gain a Cliff College Certificate by completing the required assessment work following the teaching week. Successful students will be invited to the Cliff College graduation ceremony. Students can choose not to do the assessment work by ‘auditing’ the course.


Cliff College Certificate in Ministry Among Older People: Monday 24th – Friday 28th February 2020

The cost of the teaching week is £435 and includes all teaching materials, tutorial support, board and accommodation in single en suite rooms.

A non refundable deposit of £75.00 secures your place and is payable on your acceptance of the place offered. The balance of fees should be paid on arrival or before. 

Gain credit towards a degree

Your Cliff College Short Course Certificate in Ministry Among Older People may also enable you to gain credit towards a University of Manchester certificate, diploma or degree at Cliff College. Usually, a short course certificate will gain you 10-20 credits towards a validated qualification. It would mean, for instance, that instead of studying 120 credits in the first year of a degree, you only study 100-110. The awarding of credit in this way is not automatic, and must be applied for. If you would like further guidance on whether your Cliff College Short Course Certificate may contribute towards a University of Manchester qualification at Cliff College then contact the Academic Director on academicdean@cliffcollege.ac.uk

For booking or more details contact: shortcourse@cliffcollege.ac.uk  / 01246 584203

Cliff College is a registered charity: No. 529386

Call: +44 (0) 1246 584200


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Calver, Hope Valley,
Sheffield, S32 3XG

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