Ministry of Deliverance
The Ministry of Deliverance is not something that is encountered by most of us very often.
It is, however, something that most clergy will be required to deal with on at least one occasion during the course of their ministry. Quite often the phenomena appear puzzling, bizarre and certainly to those experiencing them, disturbing.
Every Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England is required to appoint one or more persons to assist with the Ministry of Deliverance. In the Diocese of Newcastle there is a team of people appointed by the Bishop, who have accumulated very considerable experience in this ministry.
What should I do if someone is disturbed and comes to me for help?
The first priority is to listen and to calm anxiety. Whether you ‘believe’ everything that you hear is not too important at this stage. It is important to remember that the experience of the person who is talking to you is ‘sacred’, it is the interpretation of that experience which is open to exploration. So listen carefully, question carefully and write down some notes. Just listening to the story will help calm someone who is distressed, and assurance and prayer will relieve anxiety further.
What happens next?
The Bishop’s Guidelines are explicit and clear.
‘Before considering the ministry of deliverance, clergy must consult the priest authorised by the Bishop to conduct the deliverance ministry. Clergy should undertake only such ministry as is explicitly recommended’.
The current Bishop’s Advisor and team co-ordinator is :
Canon Adrian Hughes
Tel: 0191 252 1817
The task of the advisor is to support you in your ministry. Initially we will simply listen and try to work out just what has been going on. What we do next depends very much on what has been happening. On some occasions we will simply offer advice to you on how to proceed. In other instances, and always when requested by you, a member of the team will arrange to visit in person. Occasionally one visit might suffice, but is more usual for there to be ongoing contact for some time. Occasionally, and especially when there is no connection with the church, referrals are made directly to the team.
The nature of this ministry is collaborative. We have established excellent working relationships with experts in a variety of disciplines, most especially our colleagues in Mental Health Care in the region. Those with a special interest in, or involvement with, this ministry meet twice a year in Durham. This forum is ecumenical and multi-disciplinary, and attended by people from Edinburgh to South Yorkshire.
There are advisors in every Diocese and a National Training Course. Those in this region meet twice a year with our ecumenical and other professional colleagues. There is therefore a vast pool of expertise available to the team at any moment in time, and we make good use of it.
The Ministry of Deliverance is part of the Church’s Ministry of Healing, and is exercised in this theological context. The Bishop’s advisors for Healing, Pastoral Care/Counselling, Spirituality/Spiritual Direction and Ministry of Deliverance meet regularly together.
Further information / reading
The Church of England’s Report entitled, ‘A Time to Heal’ has a chapter devoted to the ministry of Deliverance and this is an excellent introduction. It clearly sets this ministry within the wider ministry of healing in the church.
For those who want to read further, the standard current text remains ‘Deliverance’ (2nd edition) which is edited by Michael Perry (formerly the Bishop’s Adviser in the Durham Diocese) and published by SPCK.
The Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies has produced an excellent leaflet for those who experience such phenomenon. Entitled, ‘ Deliver us from Evil’ it is written by the Revd. Mike Pennington and available either from the Bishop’s Adviser or directly from the organisation:
The House of Bishops has produced ‘Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy’ (Church House Publishing 2003). Every ordained person in the Diocese should have a copy of this document, and use it as the basis for ‘Good Practice’ in ministry. This is particularly significant in responding to the anxious, troubled and often vulnerable people who are frequently encountered through the Ministry of Deliverance.
For protection :
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all who love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
For a house :
Visit this place, O Lord, we pray,
and drive far from it
the snares of the enemy;
may your holy angels dwell with us
and guard us in peace,
and may your blessing
be always upon us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A blessing :
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always.
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