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Debate on faith healing
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Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Church leaders encourage faith healing
Christian imagery
People will be encouraged to believe in the healing power of prayer
Anglican clergy are to be encouraged to take on a faith healing role.

The Church of England is issuing its first report in 40 years on the ministry of healing.

And while it warns that the topic must be approached with caution, it will also encourage every parish church in the country to adopt the practice.

Faith healing is a highly controversial subject, and some evangelist preachers have been accused of making unscrupulous claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

The report, "A Time to Heal" says where physical healing does not take place, people have a need to try an emotional, psychological or spiritual approach.

Nothing predictable

Prayer is intergral to the whole process of healing

Rt Rev John Perry, Bishop of Chelmsford

But it warns that there is nothing predictable about faith healing - except the assurance of God's love and care.

It adds that the healing ministry is one of the greatest opportunities the Church has for 'sharing the Gospel'.

All Church of England clergy will receive a handbook on the development of good practice.

The report supports ecumenical co-operation in the ministry of healing and recommends improved training for clergy and laity alongside the adoption of guidelines for good practice.

Links with the medical and caring professions should be encouraged, says the report.

It also recommends the setting up of a review group to assess the compatibility with Christian teaching of widely used forms of complementary medicine and alternative therapies.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt. Rev. John Perry said the evidence that faith healing works was "overwhelming".

He said: "Prayer is intergral to the whole process of healing."

Faith healing did not substitute for traditional medicine, he said, but might complement it.

"The church has always sought to work hand in hand with those in the medical profession."

Gareth Tuckwell is a former GP who conducts healing services.

He said: "As I stand at the door and see people going out of church it is amazing how many lives are touched and, as I hear later on, are changed through the presence of Jesus in their lives."

Dennis Cobell, a nurse for 25 years and president of the Secular Society, questioned whether faith healing was offering anything more than the same positive effect that could be achieved by "the warmth of human comfort".

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05 Jun 00 | Health
Prayer 'works as a cure'
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