D036 Sacrament of healing within the context of worship services

Jesus said ‘they would do even greater things than these.’ John 14:12-14.


Previous General Convention Resolutions regarding Healing:

2018 & 2022 - NONE

2015 - A047 - Address Moral and Spiritual Healing for Traumatic Stress Injustice

2015 - A159 - Promote a Healing Ministry to those Affect by Addiction

2015 - A166 - Commend the Institute for Healing of Memories

2000 - D083 - Support Ministry for those Suffering from Post-Abortion Stress

1991 - A062 - Affirmation and Promote Knowledge of Christian Healing



-The Canons and Constitution do not list Anointing or Healing as a Topic.

-The ‘Topics’ for Search of past legislation do not list Anointing or Healing as a primary topic.

-Parochial Report does not ask whether or not healing was part of a service not does it track healing services as a separate category.

-Formation programs for prayer teams, witness, and safety are not available for developing clergy and lay healing teams.

-An ecumenical organization addressing Christian Healing is the Order of St. Luke (OSL); a training program using and analyzing biblical passages of Jesus’ healing is part of associate and full membership in OSL. OSL periodical entitled Sharing reports extensively on spontaneous healing with charismatic overlay. Supervision/teamwork is not part of an ongoing process with OSL.

-Historically, training through a McNutt program, philosophically provides a base for healing, but is not concurrent with the philosophy of the Episcopal church regarding human sexuality.

-A healing ministry can be a clerical function which does not include lay involvement. Some priests do not use Oils for the Sick, which is their prerogative, but then ‘Healing’, a term people understand, is not acknowledged of part of a specific offering in that particular church. This is not to say ‘healing’ in not happening, or Pastoral care not provided, but the Sacrament is not available.

-Some priests report receiving little training/exposure to healing as a ministry.

-The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) addresses priests/bishops blessing Oils for the Sick. BCP, page 456, states ‘’In cases of necessity, a deacon or lay person may perform the anointing, using oil blessed by a bishop or priest.”

-The 2003 Book of Occasional Services gives specific instructions for Anointing, optional prayers, and invitation for lay persons, on pages 169-171.

-A benefit of a bishop blessing oils is that healing is acknowledged for the entire diocese along with Chrism for baptism. A benefit of priests blessing oils is convenience as well as dedication to healing within a parish (which would also include, for instance, prayers for enemies and the world).

-Architecture/design/layout needs to be considered in order for a public healing liturgy to take place.  It can be difficult to ‘arrange’ for a ‘public’ healing liturgy to take place in some church settings. Ideas on ‘flow’ and visibility to clergy, or designee, need to be addressed.



-The use of the word ‘Public’ for Services of Healing is significant; persons should be visible when healing and prayers are offered. Leaving the sanctuary for prayers is not advisable but side chapels can work well. Symbolically, the baptismal font is a beautiful area to use for healing prayers, and/or anointing.

-Active listening skills need to be developed and are beneficial when hearing prayer requests.

-The role of ‘witness’ to prayer teams is significant and respects the guidelines of Safeguarding.

-There are ‘do’s’ and don’ts’ to be listed in the development and practice of a healing ministry

-Training programs/meetings should include prayerful preparation, practical skills, instruction, supervision, and review.  The appropriateness of follow-up care/questions should also be discussed/explored within the training process and in an ongoing (or consultative) manner with a clergy, mental health professional and/or physician and the team.

-Permission to touch a person when ‘laying on of hands’ accompanies prayers, or follows administration of sacramental oils needs to be established and shared within healing teams, particularly when lay people are offering this ministry. For instance, a person receiving prayers should have hands free; both hands should not be held by the person praying for them.

-‘Triad prayers’ are a useful technique to practice and build confidence praying for others. (Source: Unbinding the Gospel series includes a print out description on Praying with Others)

-An article on the Development of a Healing Ministry was written for the Diocese of Bethlehem in (approximate date ) 2016.

-Availability of support personnel, ushers, and emergency plans should be in order at healing services.



-Public Services of Healing offer opportunities for Evangelism, and help by sharing resources within the community. Healing services might have a theme such as dealing with the Opioid crisis, suicide, violence, creation care, loss at the holidays.

-The opportunity for the church to reach beyond its congregation to the larger community is provided through Public Services of Healing (BOS and online). Social injustices, substance abuse, mental health, and societal ‘woes’ including immigration, wars, crime, discrimination, can be addressed directly or indirectly during these services. Visual meditation stations might be arranged.

-Music, in many genres, is a gift for everyone when offered during the time of anointing/prayers.

-Public Service of Healing might use a secondary name, for example, ‘Healing, Hope, and Remembrance’ during Advent.



05 - Racial Truth Telling, Reckoning and Healing

08 - Congregational Vitality and Data-Driven Initiatives

09 - Evangelism and the Future Church

10 - Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music

11 - Formation and Discipleship

16 - Safety, Wellness and Mental Health