Hear From Some of the Annas…
Aging was upon me! Nan and others knew a lot about it! Time to focus on much bigger ideas and experience than things on earth. And to listen, to share, to let go!
A dear and very much admired friend invited me to her home to learn about the Society. Joining a group of mature women intentional in service in a very specific way grabbed my imagination! The more I learned about the Society, the better a fit with ministry I could cherish. I was grateful for the chance to bring my beloved Church to older women who could not bring themselves to Church.
The wisdom and kindness of the women I knew who were members of SSAP inspired me.
They loved God, the truth, their families, friends and ministries to young and old. They were understanding of grace, listening, laughter, loss, sorrow, grief. And they were filled with wonder and joy at Godly Aging.
I became interested in SSAP because they were a women’s religious community devoted to holy, Godly aging. That has proved to be true as we help and encourage each other and the wider world.
The Society of St. Anna The Prophet is the answer to the deep desire of my heart to be in a community where we tell one another the truth in compassionate love and support one another without conditions. I am so grateful that I found this group of sisters.
I was searching for something that would lead me deeper into community; would help me be more of what God wanted me to be. I came across the website at the same time as my priest suggested that the Annas might be what I was seeking. It was!
More than 10 years ago I was encouraged by our founder Rev. Nan Baxter to become a Provisional and discern for a year in becoming a member of the SSAP. I thrive in community. So, I therefore decided to take the Society’s vows of Balance, Simplicity, and Creativity. Also to embrace my aging and serve the aging. My experience is the same as Roberta Bondi described the early Christians. I experience a way of being in community, a way of prayer, and living in the world, rooted in the experience of understanding God who comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus.
I first learned of the Society of St. Anna the Prophet in Pathways, a publication of the Diocese of Atlanta. When I read it, I knew immediately this was something I had been seeking for many years. I cannot find the words to adequately express the joy, love and support I have received from my Anna Sisters since becoming a Provisional. Whenever we gather – whether it be for our Friday Eucharist, noon prayers, Sunday gatherings or on retreats – they are all such special times. I thank God daily for this calling. Such a blessing it has been in my life!
In my fifties, the call of Godly Aging drew me to the newly created Society of St. Anna the Prophet led by our founder the Rev. Nan Baxter. Now in my seventies, in the holy company of spiritual sisters and led by AnnaPeggy, I explore, support and discern God’s word for my aging. We are truly doing a new thing.
After retirement from teaching, I was looking forward to more time with my growing number of grandchildren. One day, Nan Baxter, founder of SSAP, invited me to be part of a new religious community she was forming: one with missions with elders and children.
The most important decision about joining SSAP was to be a part of a group of strong, impressive and caring women such as all of the Annas – to listen and learn and help each other become or be our Godly Aging selves.
I discovered joy in helping to gather elders in care for singing and worship. The group of women who formed SSAP were more open and caring than I had ever experienced before. I was not interested in taking on more vows, at first. Then I realized that the vows of Simplicity, Creativity and Balance were exactly how I wanted to live my life. There was no pressure to express the vows in a particular way. Being open and vulnerable with each other assures me that the friendships forming in SSAP will endure. My favorite quote: “Love never ends.”
There is little emphasis in society to garner the wisdom of the aged and the blessed witness of death. I was searching for spiritual people who could embrace the later years of life. I’m in my Novice year (2nd year) of discernment with the SSAP. What incredibly embracing, insightful and spiritually grounded group of women the Annas are! I can’t imagine my life without them.
Anna Ruth (1929-2024) spent her entire adult life in service to the old and to the young – she was an Anna before there was such a thing as the Society of Saint Anna the Prophet! Born in Connecticut, she was a teacher in New York until her retirement which was followed by her ordination to the priesthood.
Ruth was a founding member of SSAP and a leading contributor to the work of the Constitution committee. She led the worship team at an elder care facility on Lenox Road and participated fully in the life and activities of the society. Her Anna sisters knew she was a straightforward person (a Connecticut Yankee after all) and someone who could be trusted to do what she said she would.
She had the gift of ministering wherever she was. Even when she moved into elder living, she managed to be a chaplain to other elders that the staff would alert her to. Anna Ruth truly lived out her life vows until the very end!
AnnaBrokenWing (Katherine Roberts) was a founding member of the SSAP who vowed for life in 2012. A priest of the Episcopal Church and former vicar of St. Anthony’s in Winder, she was forced to retire on disability after only a few years of ordained ministry as a result of a severe injury to her right elbow in a fall. When she vowed as a Regular, she chose the name BrokenWing because of the loss of the use of her right arm. AnnaBrokenWing courageously endured many surgeries and treatments until her prosthetic elbow was finally removed because of recurring infections. The physical limitations imposed on AnnaBrokenWing because of her disability freed her to develop a contemplative practice at home and ministries of spiritual direction and intercessory prayer. She is remembered for her dedication to the Society and her delight in welcoming her sisters into her Avondale home for quiet days and for lively conversations around the dining room table. Her presence, from the very beginning, was important in the formation of the community.
The Reverend Lori M. Lowe, SSAP. A founding member of SSAP, a co-designer of our vestment, Lori had a passion for God and all things church which expressed itself in everything she did in and for the Society. Having been an out-of-town council member, Lori was particularly committed to expanding communication with dispersed Annas. Her too early death deprived us of her ministry and her joy in being among us. We miss the exuberant love she gave to her beloved husband, family, friends and all the Annas.
Lily Anne was born in Memphis and educated at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College). She moved to Atlanta in 1959 with her husband and two children. The family joined the Cathedral of St. Philip where she was involved in several lay ministries including the altar guild. She trained for the diaconate and was ordained by the eighth Bishop of Atlanta in 1993. She served in pastoral care at the Cathedral until she retired in 1996. She joined the Society at its founding in 2005 and helped lead the way to aging in grace.
Mary Ann Neale was a devoted Anna and the first in our society to pass on to Glory. She was a dedicated lifetime educator, even teaching in Japan for a time, a gifted pianist and a longtime member of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta at the time of her passing. She generously shared her piano talents at services held by the SSAP at various senior residences.
Marjorie was born in Lake Wales, Florida, into a warm family and an extended loving community. She graduated from Florida State University with honors. She met her husband at college and they had four sons. She went on to get her Masters Degree in college teaching and sociology. Her work included teaching at Macon Junior College and as a researcher at Rutgers in New Jersey. She was predeceased by her two sons Bruce and Michael. This was a terrible grief she carried.
She loved God and studied scripture daily. She was curious and kind. At her death she had grandchildren, and great grands who gathered to give thanks to God for her presence and love.
AnnaCarol come to the SSAP by way of her residency at one of our worship ministry locations, Wesley Woods Towers. She was a faithful congregant at the weekly service, living in the Towers with a long term medical condition, Myasthenia Gravis. She was called to be an Anna and served in her wheelchair at the Towers for several years, never failing to greet others so cheerfully. Carol was known for her Biblical knowledge and her deep abiding faith and she found the Annas a loving community in her final days.
Maggi Ewing was a life vowed member of the Society of St. Anna the Prophet, first joining in 2011; a faithful presence in the SSAP services at Wesley Woods Towers, constant in our Anna House services, retreats and fellowship. A career educator and faithful Christian, she was also a long-time, active member of The Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta, Georgia, singing in the choir, serving as host for receptions, active in Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and coordinating a Nativities exhibit for years. Her hostess gifts were vital in our SSAP events. In her own words, “The SSAP gives me the opportunity to be of service to others. In following our vows, I live out and follow the path of Godly Aging.”
Marilyn Hughes was a life vowed member of the SSAP, first vowing in 2010, and serving in many roles such as vicar for our congregation at Arbor Terrace, Council member as Director of Provisionals and Novices, creative workshop leader on drumming and soul collage. She was a professional counselor in private practice and long- time member of her parishes in Atlanta. Her passionate devotion to the Annas was evident in her constant presence at the Anna House she helped establish, single handedly refinishing and upkeeping the floors, and serving in the Chapel and offering meditations at our services, most memorably on Good Friday. She mentored several Annas in their discernment. AnnaMarilyn’s superb group skills, her gift for compassionate listening, and her commitment to inclusion and diversity were just a few of the many and varied gifts she brought to the SSAP.