A TRADITIONAL ANGLO-CATHOLIC PARISH

Non ministrari, sed ministrare

Healing Mission

 

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THE MINISTRY OF HEALING AT THE CHURCH OF

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Vincent Eareckson, Ph.D.

 

Good Shepherd has always had a ministry of healing.  As an Anglo-Catholic parish our priests have anointed the sick in their homes or hospital rooms with prayer for healing, as James 5 tells us to do.   By the provision of regular announced times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as we now call Penance or Confession, this great sacrament of not only spiritual but also physical healing has been available.  And for a number of years there was public administration of unction, the anointing of the sick, in connection with the regular Wednesday evening Mass.

 

But in the most recent times, there has been a much more intense focus on this basic ministry of the Church. Jesus commanded his followers to "Preach [the Gospel of] the Kingdom of God and heal the sick" [Luke 9:2].  Four new components of the healing ministry have been added to the evangelical ministry of this parish.

 

I. Over a year ago, we began to offer Holy Unction in the Lady Chapel after the High Mass on Sundays.  The priest has been assisted in the laying on of hands by Dr. Stevens Heckscher, Lay Spiritual Director whose ministry of spiritual direction has always had a major healing component, and Dr. Vincent Eareckson, Educational and Ecumenical Missioner who has been involved in healing ministries including hospital chaplaincy for over 40 years and who also is involved in spiritual direction.   The Liturgy has been developing over the year and, even more exciting, those gathered for prayer have joined in the laying on of hands, making it a true expression of Christian community in prayer and ministry.  As many as 30 people have gathered for this regular ministry, although our usual number is closer to 15.  Please join us in the Lady Chapel each Sunday to pray and receive anointing for yourself and for others.

 

II. As this regular Sunday ministry developed, it became clear that we needed a parish-wide Healing Mission.   The parish had such a Mission with Canon Mark Pearson several years ago but it was time for another.  We contacted Fr. Michael Fulljames, the recently retired senior Chaplain at Burrswood, a Christian Centre for Healthcare and Ministry in Kent in England.   Dr. Heckscher had visited Burrswood several times in the '60's and '70's and has a particular interest in Dorothy Kerin, the English woman and saint who, under God, had such an important place in the restoration of the public healing ministry in the Church of England.  He spoke on Dorothy several times in our series on the Communion of the Saints in the Adult Forum, describing her own miraculous healing and consequent ministry, and also has shared her witness and words with his directees.  Michael+ agreed to come to Good Shepherd with his wife Kitty, who is fully involved with him in healing ministry, for a parish Healing Mission.

The Mission was held March 4-10, 2002 and, in the good providence of God,

began on the very day of the Rector's inhibition. By sharing their own testimonies, teaching on healing, conducting two Healing Services and generally being with us as a true healing presence for that week, the Fulljames' visit marked a new breadth of healing ministry at Good Shepherd. 

 

III. As a continuation of the Mission, several of us began in April to meet regularly on the first and third Wednesday evenings in the Lady Chapel at 7:30 for continuing intercession, teaching, fellowship and the laying on of hands. We now have a "core group" of more than a dozen people in this prayer ministry. We have gone and shared our experience with the people of St. Mary's Church, Wayne, where another healing group is beginning.   Dr. Charles Zeiders, a Christian clinical psychologist from St. Mary's, has become a regular part of the core group on Wednesdays.  All, whether members of Good Shepherd or not, are invited on the first and third Wednesdays to come for prayer yourself, for those for whom you are interceding, and for the fellowship in this ministry.

 

IV. Most recently, seven of us--our Curate Fr. Garrin Dickinson, who is the regular member of the clergy for the Wednesday prayer time, Dr. Heckscher, Dr. Zeiders, Maria Demopoulos, Joanna Falini, Margaret Termini and myself--have gone as a Healing Team for a week at Burrswood. We left on Tuesday, August 20 and returned Tuesday, August 27.  We spent an intense week sharing the life of this Christian Centre for Healthcare and Ministry that is Burrswood today.  We had times of conference with almost all of the senior staff, we joined in the common worship including the regular four different Healing Services held each week, we spent time in prayer, meditation and building our fellowship with each other in this work and had a full exposure to a major center for the healing ministry of the Church.

 

The Team will be giving the parish a full report very early in the fall. We are actively seeking the will of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, testing whether it might be the will of God that there should be an American affiliate of Burrswood here in the Delaware Valley with Good Shepherd providing the major impetus for it. Please join with us in prayer about this very important decision.

 

The commission of Christ is clear---Preach, Teach and Heal. In these difficult days in the life of the parish we are not released from this commission. Quite the opposite. We must show by our active engagement with ministry to the whole person on the basis of the Gospel what we are contending for in our public witness. Consider joining us as God calls you---to seek your own healing in every area, to intercede for the healing of people and nations, to receive the healing Sacraments with intention for the needs of all, to pray regularly with us for the advance of this work.

 

Burrswood Christian Centre for Healthcare and Ministry