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The Falls Church Anglican: The Long March to Healing Ministry Excellence

In 2000, the Rev. Rick Wright was called to be Director of Pastoral Care ministry at The Falls Church. As a teen, Rick Wright entered the Charismatic Renewal at its height in 1973, and naturally absorbed its multiple teachings for healing and deliverance that were at the heart of the Renewal.[12] Wright felt a call to the ministry and went to Trinity School of Ministry, near Pittsburgh. This was and is one of the few orthodox (and Charismatic affirming) seminaries in the Episcopal Church. After ordination, he served in several Episcopal parishes for sixteen years before coming to The Falls Church.

When he came to The Falls Church Anglican, the pastoral care ministry included such things as counseling, hospital visitations and other services besides the healing ministry. The Rev. Wright came with the experience, knowledge, and desire to grow the healing ministry and quickly connected with the lay volunteers, including Chuck and Nancy Cook. Not long after he had arrived, Wright informed the prayer ministers that the Cooks would take the lead in doing what was necessary to establish a growing healing ministry at The Falls Church Anglican. He had not told them before the announcement, but they graciously accepted the charge. With Wright’s mandate, they took initial actions to organize healing teams and prayers for the church, and began “Prayer at the Rail” where parishioners who needed healing and intercessory prayers were prayed for right at the end of the main services.

In the fall of 2001, Wright started a new healing class for lay persons. This featured the early videos put out by the MacNutt’s Christian Healing Ministries,[13] out of Jacksonville, Florida. The first class had about twenty members, about half of whom had gone to various healing conferences and camps. From this group, and the yearly classes that followed, a strong and well trained core of healing volunteers arose.

Christian Healing Ministries had created an open door in which a person with a healing need could come and be ministered to immediately.

In 2002, the Cooks were affirmed in their leadership position when Rev. Wright officially tasked them to be the lay leaders of the church healing ministry. With Wright’s guidance they worked to further organize lay volunteers into healing teams. Along with “Prayer at the Rail,” Wright and the Cooks created various other healing prayer venues such as Evenings of Healing Prayer, Tuesday Afternoon Prayer, with half hour individual prayer appointments, and a special healing prayer program whereby two trained volunteers would pray with individuals in two-hour sessions for up to six sessions.

The first several years of the healing ministry were largely low-key, as many in the congregation were not used to the idea of healing prayer. Some in the congregation came from cessationist churches and others from Episcopal churches where the healing ministry was not active. Thankfully, the ministry enjoyed the full support of the Rev. Yates and the rest of the clergy, and the multiple lay ministers always felt their support. As healings began occurring regularly, growth and acceptability followed.

The Rev. Wright had been influenced by the literature of the English Church Missionary Society and its principals of ministry growth. These were: start small, listen to the Holy Spirit for direction, make sure money is only of secondary importance, and attract quality people under God’s providential guidance. He kept these principles in mind as the healing ministry grew under his guidance. These principals were a perfect match for the situation at The Falls Church. The healing ministry under a flourishing and wealthy congregation which The Falls Church had become, could sustain itself with little additional income. Being part of the regular functioning of the church, the healing ministry at The Falls Church had a ready infrastructure of clergy, staff, and volunteers, along with ministry space and required office equipment. Standalone ministries do not have that luxury, and often the need for sustaining funds sneaks into high priority regardless of good intentions.[14]

In 2002, the Rev. Wright invited the McNutts to The Falls Church for a healing conference. Several hundred parishioners and members of nearby churches attended. This was a major energy producing event which fired up many in The Falls Church about the healing ministry. After the conference, Wright and several of the ministry leaders went down to Jacksonville to see just how the MacNutts had organized their ministry. They were impressed, but one thing particularly struck Wright: how CHM had created an “open door” in which a person with a healing need could come and be ministered to immediately, and not wait for a specific mid-week or Sunday service. The Rev. Wright determined that The Falls Church healing ministry would strive to do likewise, and managed to make that a fact.

By 2006, another step forward in training was taken. The Rev. Wright, together with the Cooks, organized an eight-month long course given every Wednesday night to train new volunteers and interested persons in healing prayer. This was a very through series of instructions and exercises. These classes ran (and still run) between seventy-five and a hundred participants, about two thirds from Falls Church and the rest from nearby churches in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2020

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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