Joanne Dunlop

Antrim Area Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital

Mission Reports

Joanne has been working as an assistant to the chaplains in Antrim and Craigavon Area Hospitals since November 2012.

The majority of her time is given to providing pastoral support to patients and their families and also to the staff working within this pressurised environment. This is mostly done on a one-to-one basis, visiting with patients at their bedside and checking in with staff throughout their working day. As part of the chaplaincy team at both hospitals, Joanne is involved in the Christmas and Easter services. She is also involved in organising and participating in two annual services of Remembrance and Thanksgiving - one held to remember those staff who have died during the previous year and one to remember and give thanks for children who have died and babies who have died in the womb.

Joanne writes, “I consider my role as a chaplain to be a very real privilege. That my job description is to spend time with people in what is a very busy place is something that I value greatly. I’m aware that many others who work within the hospital would love to have more time speaking with the patients, but are restricted by their clinical caseload. It is wonderful to be able to introduce myself to so many different people – those of faith and those of none – and for people to choose to share part of their story with me.

There are many people who enter through the hospital doors who do not have any connection to a church or consider themselves to be religious. As chaplains we often have the opportunity just to come alongside each individual and offer time, support and concern in the name of Jesus, whether a word is said or not. My passion is that people would come to know and be aware of the living Lord Jesus with them; that people would be aware of his love for them; and the reality of his hope and power at work in their lives.”

Joanne is married to Rob and they have three young children. They are thankful to be part of the church family at Dundrod Presbyterian. Joanne was commissioned as a deaconess in November 2012 and at first worked part-time in the congregation of Hillhall and part-time in the hospitals. After the birth of her first child in 2014, she reduced her hours to work in the hospitals only.

Prayer points

  • Give thanks for the opportunity given to chaplains to minister in the hospital setting and pray for us as a team.
  • Give thanks for all the staff who work so tirelessly within the hospital for the good of all who require medical attention. Pray for energy and encouragement as they work and that they will know times of real rest and restoration.
  • Pray that Joanne’s relationship with Jesus will always come first and that she will minister to others from a place of hearing the Lord’s voice.
  • Pray for God’s divine leading so that she is guided to be with the right people at the right time, and for his wisdom in all she says and does.

Latest Report – March 2023 

Unfamiliar paths

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will lead them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16).

It has been a real privilege to work as a chaplain for the past 10 years in Antrim and Craigavon Area Hospitals. Every day as I walk along the corridors and get to greet, chat, and at times pray with staff members, I am thankful to God for opening up the opportunity to be involved in this particular pastoral work and to be a part of the unique community within our hospitals. I am thankful too that God promises to equip those he has called into the work he has for them to do.

On my journey towards chaplaincy God graciously provided a number of confirmations that this was the path that he was leading me to be on. So daily I call on him to fulfil his promise to make me able and thank him that he is faithful to do so. He has also provided the support of chaplaincy colleagues and opportunities for training and encouragement, particularly through membership of the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplaincy Association (NIHCA). 

The last few years have obviously seen all of us walk along unfamiliar paths and, for some, they have been particularly rough. For those who have had to enter into hospital, leaving loved ones at home, it was a privilege as a chaplain to act as a bridge between family members and also to bring the gentle but very real reminder of an almighty, loving Father who is with us wherever we are and who "[hems us] in, behind and before" (Psalm 139:5).

The Lord's promise to his people Israel, as recorded in Isaiah 42, is one that he has been reminding me of more and more over recent weeks. Thankfully, while ways within the hospitals are gradually returning to something more akin to 'normal' and visiting by family, friends and community pastoral workers is much more possible, there are still unfamiliar paths to be walked for many of those who are admitted on to the wards.

As I spend time with people who are waiting for tests and results, or those who are about to embark on an unknown and (what can feel like) an overwhelming journey of ongoing treatment, I'm reminded that the Lord wants us to look to him with expectation that he will fulfil his promises - promises to go before us and lead us as we look to him, promises to turn the darkness into light and to make the rough places smooth. Our Father God, full of compassion, will never forsake us.

Please pray:

  • For hospital staff in their tireless work, and for opportunities to encourage them.
  • For the Holy Spirit to lead me in each day, so that I may cross paths with those he wants me to encounter.     

To download a printable PDF version of this report visit the Mission Reports listing at the top.

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