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Order of St. Luke International 2019: From an Anti-Cessationism past to a Fully Charismatic Future

Charismatic historian William De Arteaga introduces us to The Order of St. Luke, where it came from, how it has influenced charismatic leaders for generations, and reports on the most recent international convention held in Orlando, Florida.

The Order of St Luke was founded by The Rev. John Gayer Banks in the 1930’s, an Episcopal priest residing in California. His intention was to introduce healing prayer into the Episcopal and the mainline churches in the United States. By the 1950s the OSL became a leading and important anti-cessationist group proclaiming a prophetic message among the Protestant churches in North America: the Church’s healing ministry must be reclaimed. Ultimately, the OSL also became a solidly charismatic bastion, sharing in many areas of the world the message that the healing ministry reaches its fullness in conjunction with the gifts of the Spirit. The latter transition was not and easy one, as will be described below.

The Order of St. Luke proclaimed: The Church’s healing ministry must be reclaimed.

The OSL was patterned after of the Anglican Guild of Health (England) established by the Anglican priest, the Rev. Percy Dearmer in 1903. Dearmer was a polymath – an art historian, liturgical scholar, co-founder of the Christian Socialist Union, but most widely known for his work on the Anglican hymnal, including some of his own hymns.[1]

Dearmer’s labors in reestablishing healing prayer in the Church was partly in response to the vast inroads that Christian Science and the other Metaphysical cults were making during the 1900s in attracting orthodox Christians to their churches. The Rev. Dearmer rightly understood that the root problem was that the orthodox Christian churches no longer believed or practiced healing prayer – i.e. cessationism.[2]

The Rev. Percy Dearmer

Dearmer and two other Anglican churchmen banded together to remedy the situation. This was done through a new organization, The Guild of Health, which was attached to the Anglican Church. (Anglican love doing their ministry through “guilds,” it grounds the group to the Anglican Church and its Episcopal oversight and besides sounds genteel.) The guild spread throughout the UK, sponsoring and organizing lectures and “missions” of three day teachings ending in a church service and the laying on of hands at the altar rail.

John Ganer Banks was born in England but later emigrated to America to get his doctorate in religious studies, and went on to be ordained an Episcopal priest. He determined to do the same for the Episcopal Church in America as the Rev Dearmer did in the UK. From his base at St. Luke’s Church in San Diego, he and his wife Ethel began healing services at his parish, and did healing missions wherever he was invited. While he pastored the parish, Ethel administered the OSL and wrote most of its literature. She began a mimeographed journal of healing testimonies and book reviews. The mailing list for this two page newsletter steadily grew to reach every part of the nation. Within two years it morphed into a more sophisticated printed journal with the name “Sharing.” It continues to this day as the official journal of the OSL.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2019

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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