Deliverance Ministry 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. The phenomena often appear strange, confusing and to those experiencing them, usually 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 authorised by the Bishop, who have accumulated very considerable experience in this ministry. Convenor of the Deliverance Group is Revd Canon Adrian Hughes. .
What should I do if someone is distressed and seeks help?
The immediate priority is to listen and to calm anxiety. Listen carefully, question carefully and make notes. Having someone who listens to them will help calm someone who is distressed, and assurance and prayer will relieve anxiety further.
What happens next?
For people who are suffering from anxiety caused by what seem to be continued experiences of evil within or around them, seeking specific help from God through the Church’s deliverance ministry might be appropriate. However, particular caution needs to be exercised and so, before considering the ministry of deliverance, clergy must first consult the Bishop’s Authorised Advisor for advice.
The task of the Advisor is to support clergy in your ministry. Initially, they will simply listen and try to make sense of what has been going on. What action is taken next very much will vary from case to case. Sometimes, the team will simply offer advice on how to proceed. In other instances, and always when requested by the member of clergy, a member of the team will arrange to visit in person. Occasionally one visit might suffice, but it is more usual for there to be ongoing pastoral care for some time.
- The ministry of exorcism and deliverance should only be undertaken by an experienced priest authorized by the Diocesan Bishop
- It should be done in the context of prayer and sacrament
- A multi-disciplinary approach is to be desired, consulting and collaborating as necessary with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists
- It should be followed up by continued pastoral care
- The privacy and dignity of individuals and families should be respected.
These guidelines were taken from The House of Bishops’ Guidance for Good Practice in Deliverance Ministry (Revised 2012) which those authorised to conduct this ministry are required to follow. Please read the full document for more detail.
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 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’.
The House of Bishops has produced ‘Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy’. 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.
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. Amen.
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. Amen.
Further useful prayers can be found in the Church of England official liturgical resource Common Worship 'Prayers for Protection and Peace'.