Diocese of Gloucester Guidelines for the Healing Ministry
The ministry of healing and reconciliation is exercised in a wide variety of ways across the Diocese. It is very important that everyone involved follows the House of Bishops’ Guidelines for Good Practice in the Healing Ministry.
In this ministry, we serve vulnerable people at difficult times in their lives. It is essential that we take every step to ensure that we do this safely, responsibly, and prayerfully. We need to think carefully about questions such as:
- Who are the people God is calling to exercise this ministry?
- How do we pray for guidance in this ministry?
- How do we make sure people understand what is being offered?
- What are the lines of accountability for those exercising this ministry?
- What are the possible legal issues? (e.g. data protection, informed consent, legal liability)
- What training do people need to have before exercising this ministry?
- How do we exercise this ministry appropriately and sensitively? Some key things to consider are language, personal hygiene, general appearance, body language and touch.
- How do we ensure a high level of confidentiality? Does everyone exercising this ministry understand andexplain the limits to confidentiality?
- Do we know how and when we should refer someone for further professional support?
- Who else exercises a healing ministry in our community? How can we work in partnership?
The precise answers to these questions depend on local circumstances, but the following practical points may help:
- Be aware that anyone asking for the ministry of healing may be vulnerable.
- Ensure that there are rigorous procedures for recruiting, training and supervising people to be involved in the healing ministry.
- Those involved in the healing ministry should be DBS checked.
- Ensure clear lines of accountability for those involved in the healing ministry.
- Ensure a high level of confidentiality, always explaining that there are limits to this.
- Physical touch is a problem for some people. Permission from the person should always be sought before the laying on of hands or anointing with oil.
- Laying on of hands should be limited to the head and shoulders.
- Whereas any trained and competent person may offer the ministry of laying on of hands, anointing with oil is usually restricted to ministry by a priest.
- For prayer ministry in a worship setting, always work in pairs, ideally one male and one female within sight and audible reach of other adults.
- In a street setting, always ensure that there are witnesses.
- In times of personal difficulty, or illness it may be wise to step back from this ministry temporarily.
- The ministry of deliverance is distinct from the ministry of healing. It is a ministry restricted to those to whom the Bishop has entrusted it and there are separate guidelines.
- The PCC may wish to establish whether their insurance will cover possible legal liabilities.
Advice and Support
If you need any further advice or support, please contact the Bishop’s Adviser, Sheila Appleton or your Deanery Adviser (see list above)