The Healing Service includes two special ministries to help support those in need: the Laying on of Hands, and the Annointing with Oil. See Events for more details.
Laying on of Hands and Anointing with Oil are two distinct ministries, each with an ancient history dating back to the early days of the Church, and even beyond. They are two different ways the Church offers support and care for you during times of trial in your life. You may find one of the ministries is more comfortable or comforting; or you may prefer to make use of both ministries. The choice is entirely up to you.
Laying on of Hands is a symbol of the gathered community lifting up a person’s needs to God on their behalf. There are times we cannot pray for ourselves or our loved ones; words fail us. At these times especially we need the support and encouragement of our family of faith. You speak your concerns to two representatives of the community, and they lay their hands upon you (though this is optional) and lift up your concerns to God. The prayer is not long - God already knows all our concerns before we ask - but they act as a conduit for God’s loving care to touch us in our time of need. Laying on of Hands has always been a powerful ministry of the Lay people of the Church - that is, those who are not ordained. When the ordained get involved, we are there not as representatives of the Church, but as baptized Christians, ministering alongside other baptized Christians in this powerful ministry.
To receive Laying on of Hands: during Communion, two lay members will be available in the Side Chapel. You simply go up to them, or if they are with someone, sit quietly on the pew to the side. They will ask what your prayer request is. They will ask if they can lay their hands upon you, and if you say yes they will gently take your hand or lay their hand upon your shoulder. They they will then lift up your prayer request before God, who cares for us and listens to our prayers.
Anointing with Oil is a very different way the Church can support you in the difficult times of your life. The Oil has been consecrated by the Bishop and is a sign of the healing prayer of the whole Church, represented through the action of the Priest. The Oil is an outward sign of the healing Spirit of God at work in your life.
Annointing with Oil is one of the most ancient symbols of our faith, dating back to a time when oil was routinely used for healing. At that time (as healthcare is today in most places around the world) the oil was precious and expensive and not everyone had access. Anointing with Oil was one among the Church's ministries of pooling and sharing “all their possessions”, so that even the poorest of the poor had access to healthcare. Today for us, the Oil is a sign of how God works through the Church to heal people’s lives. The healing may not look like what we most desperately want, and it may not happen according to our time frames, but God continues to work in our lives, through the Church, and to invite us to heal.
Just as Communion can seem ordinary one day, and powerfully transformative another day, so the Oil of Annointing, too, can sometimes bring us a powerfully transformative experience of God's presence in our lives, holding us up, and walking alongside us, even through our most difficult times.