Back in the 1980s, I heard a lot of people talking about spiritual growth. I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t really want to ask. One Sunday, however, when I was a parishioner at St. Barnabas, Montgomery, our rector, George Hill, said during the announcements that if anyone were seeking spiritual growth, he recommended the weekly healing services at St. Thomas, Terrace Park, led by deacon Emily Gardiner Neal. I decided to try going, although I had no idea what to expect.
I started going every Monday evening. After prayers, hymns and a homily, Deacon Emily and others laid hands on anyone who came to the altar rail and said a prayer for healing for that person or anyone he or she requested prayer for. Each week it was easy for me to think of someone who was in need of healing of some kind, either in my own family or someone with whom I was working as a social worker.
I began to see changes in the lives of the people I was praying for. Sometimes the changes were small or large, quick or slow. What I realized during the years I did this was that God works actively for good in the lives of people, especially when prayer is involved. This changed my life as well as the lives of the people I prayed for.
Eventually, I experienced this as a call to ordination, and I was ordained a deacon in 1991. Since then, I have served in six different congregations, and if they didn’t already have a ministry of healing prayer with the laying on of hands, I started one. I have enjoyed teaching people of all ages about healing, especially teenagers. To watch young people pray for healing for those coming forward for communion has been the greatest joy for me, and parishioners have also been deeply moved by the experience.
Submitted by the Rev. Carol Potterton