I am currently involved in helping to coordinate the vision process for the Diocese of Gloucester and have been thinking a lot about one of the three questions Bishop Rachel is asking the Diocese: What is my dream or vision for the Church in this Diocese in five years’ time? It’s a tough but thought-provoking question, however an encounter I had last Sunday helped me to focus more clearly on what an answer might be.
A kind lady who I know quite well told me that she has recently been diagnosed with dementia. It came as a real shock and I was disappointed in the inadequate way I responded. The look in her eyes is one I will never forget. I was left feeling anxious and wanting to know and learn more about the condition so that it didn’t become a barrier when I meet her or others in a similar situation again.
This encounter struck a chord with me in helping me to glimpse my hope for the Church, where we are made aware of and are equipped to embrace and support those whom we know and those whom we encounter in our daily lives. Areas of the Church of England are already working in this area. A good friend of mine is a Dementia Support Worker serving in the Diocese of Lichfield. Lichfield Diocese is encouraging people to become ‘dementia friends’ helping to change the lives of those suffering dementia to begin ‘living well’ with dementia.
For where I am on my faith journey this ‘equipping’ element is about faith in action, enabling me to encounter well with all who I meet both inside and outside of church. I have a hope to belong to a Church where we are deeply committed to people at all stages of life, so that as we face both joy and adversity together, we each grow richer for the shared experience.
By Helen Richardson, Assistant Diocesan Secretary