The healing ministry at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Hayesville would like to share the good news that wholeness and wellness are God's will for His children—and we are all God's children.
Healing prayer at Good Shepherd, where Father Bill Breedlove is rector, is available to people suffering from physical or psychological issues, even if they are not members of the church. Local educator Theresa Waldroup, who attends another church, speaks of the comfort and peace she received at Good Shepherd. Prayer is offered after the 10:45 service on Sundays, in soaking prayer on Tuesday evenings at 7:00, at the Thursday noon Eucharistic service, and by individual appointment. Sometimes referrals are made by local physicians who seek spiritual support for their patients, and by organizations such as REACH.
Parishioner Holly Calmes sought healing prayer when she faced breast cancer. Now she says, “I have become convinced of its reality and power not only through my own experiences but through witnessing many others.” Another parishioner, Jim Reynolds, who avoided retina surgery, attributes his healing to the power of the prayers. But the prayer ministers do not claim to be faith healers. According to Rachel Baughn, ministry head, “All we are is facilitators to bring people into the presence of Jesus, and Jesus does the healing.”
The healing ministry is offered through the International Order of St. Luke the Physician (OSL). Medical professionals, clergy from the Roman, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches, and lay people comprise the members of OSL. Members believe that God uses many agencies for healing and that Christian healing and medical practice complement each other.
At Good Shepherd, the OSL chapter was begun in 2002. Other churches now participating include the Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist. Altogether about 30 local people have been trained. Trainees study the 26 healing miracles of Jesus detailed in the Bible and attend workshops taught by Father John Rice, former rector of Good Shepherd who is now involved in OSL nationally. Baughn says of the trainees, “We are called to the healing ministry because we have all experienced healing in our own lives, and we want to share it.”
OSL does not claim to be magic. As parishioner Pat Fox says, “I still have cancer, but it is now in remission thanks to healing prayer.” What healing prayer does promise is that God will be with us in our suffering and help us to deal with it.