Joanne Dunlop


Hillhall Presbyterian Church. Antrim Area and Craigavon Area Hospital.

Hillhall; Dromore Presbytery

Joanne has been qualified as a Deaconess since November 2012. Since her commissioning her full-time job as Deaconess has been split into two roles. Half her time is working as a Deaconess for the congregation of Hillhall Presbyterian Church in Lisburn and the other half is spent working as a Chaplain in Craigavon Area and Antrim Area Hospitals.

Thankfully my working week has been developed to provide me with some consistency on a weekly basis. Generally on Mondays, Thursdays, Sundays and some week nights you will find me at Hillhall Presbyterian. On Wednesdays and Fridays I work at Antrim Area Hospital and on Tuesdays I work at Craigavion Area Hospital. There is flexibility within my week but the routine enables me to keep some sense of sanity!

My work at Hillhall Presbyterian is mostly focused on pastoral visitation of church members, outreach work through the Toddler group we established three years ago, encouraging discipleship particularly among the women with a women’s Bible study, encouraging prayer, and taking part in the Sunday services.

Chaplaincy work at Craigavon and Antrim area Hospitals is slightly different. At Craigavon pastoral visitation is to those of the Presbyterian tradition in the main, whereas at Antrim Hospital I visit all patients of all faith traditions and none, on the five wards I and my colleague, Donald Patton, have been allocated to serve as part of the Chaplaincy team there. Once a month at Craigavon I take my turn to lead the weekly Sunday Service held on the ward of the Psychiatric wing – a very enjoyable and encouraging time with all who attend.

Latest Report

The morning of Easter Sunday 2016 was a joint celebration for our family as, twelve days earlier than expected, we welcomed a new wee member to our clan, Joseph Richard Dunlop.  Thus much of 2016 has been spent on maternity leave enjoying the blessing of time with our two young children, Martha and Joseph, who are aged 2 years and 11 months respectively (at time of writing, February 2017).  I returned to Chaplaincy work at Antrim Area Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital on the week beginning 9th January 2017.  As before, 12 of my hours are based at Antrim (now Monday and Thursday), and six hours are based at Craigavon (Friday).  I am very thankful for this balance of time in the hospital working in a ministry I feel very privileged to be a part of, and also having more time at home to care for our young family. 

The Chaplaincy department in Antrim Area Hospital continues to follow a generic model of practice whereby each Chaplain is assigned a number of wards and visits with each patient on those wards from all faith backgrounds and none. This way of working has the particular benefits of being able to draw alongside and carry the presence of Jesus to those who have had no contact with church at all or whose perceptions of faith may be negative, as well as being able to encourage fellow believers.  It also helps in the building of relationships between chaplains and staff on the particular wards on which each chaplain works. With the large numbers of people being admitted and discharged from the wards each week, I would ask you to pray that I continue to be aware of God’s leading as to whom He would have me minister to, and that my focus would be on the quality of each visit rather than the quantity. At Craigavon, we continue to visit according to denomination and I enjoy meeting with people admitted into the main hospital and with those who have been admitted into “Bluestone” - the unit specialising in helping those who are experiencing problems with their mental health.

At both Craigavon and Antrim I have the opportunity to be involved in special services throughout the year - Christmas and Easter services for staff and patients within the hospital buildings, and the Paediatric and Adult Bereavement services organised to give thanks for the lives of loved ones who have passed away.  Please pray for all the hospital staff as they work in pressurised circumstances to help all who enter the wards; and for patients and their families, dealing not just with physical problems but with the emotional strain which often accompanies them. Please pray that, as chaplains, we will be an encouragement and support for all.  Thank you.

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