Interview with Pat published in this months Church of Ireland Gazette. The interview was conducted by the Editor, Earl Storey.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
They say ‘life begins at 40’ – and for me, that was when things really started to happen. We were living in Holywood and our new vicar, Canon Jim Monroe, was a man of many challenges. I thank God for him making my pew uncomfortable and causing me to look upwards and then inwards, and examining faith matters more deeply.
Growing up in a Christian family and living next door to St Patrick’s church, Jordanstown, gave me a good start in life. I was educated at Richmond Lodge School and Belfast Royal Academy, where I met my life’s companion, Rab. We matriculated at Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1963 – Rab in medicine and I in science. I graduated PhD (Chemistry) in 1970 and BD in 1997. We have four children and eight grandchildren.
During that time, the Gazette ran an advertisement for Belfast Bible College that asked: “Would you like a deeper understanding of God’s word?” and “Would you like help finding where your spiritual gifts lie?” I had hardly applied for their Women’s Study Fellowship, until I heard God’s call into the ordained ministry. It took me a while to verbalise what was going on, and my delight was that God had been taking Rab on the same journey. We were ordained side-by-side for non stipendiaryministry at Pentecost 1997.
How did you first become involved in Christian healing ministry?
The Down and Dromore Diocesan Healing Committee invited Rab to speak at their biannual general meeting in 1997, and I ended up on the committee! They sent me on a residential course on Christian Healing for clergy and healthprofessionals at the Church of England Healing Centre in 1998. This was where I first encountered the practical reality of Christ’s healing ministry and the benefits of the symbolic laying on of hands and anointing with oil.
For anyone unfamiliar with it, how would you describe Christian healing ministry?
Christian healing is best defined as ‘Jesus Christ meeting me at my point of need’. Jesus heals today through the prayers of his faithful people. As humans, we exist as body, mind and spirit, and healing can take place in any – or all – of these areas. Healing may also be in relationships with individuals, within families or in communities. The most precious healing takes place when someone commits their life to Jesus.
Can you tell us about the Church of Ireland’s Ministry of Healing – how did it originate and what is its current role?
It emerged in Ireland in the 1930s. The Archbishop of Dublin recognised Canon Noel Waring’s gifting and directed him into a Dublin parish, where he could exercise his special gift of healing. The ministry spread from there, being established in the 1960s in Belfast at 11 The Mount.
Our mandate is found in Luke 9:2, “He [Jesus] sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” God still heals today, through the prayers of his faithful people – that is anyone who believes in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive” (Matthew 7:7). So often, we don’t have because we don’t ask.
What is your present role in the Church’s Ministry of Healing and what does it involve?
In 2009, the Church of Ireland encouraged the setting up of two autonomous charitable companies – there’s one in Belfast and one in Dublin. I am CEO and director of ministry at Church’s Ministry of Healing, The Mount.
We have teams for emergency prayer, intercessory prayer and one-to-one prayer, which may be received either at our healing service at St Anne’s cathedral, Belfast, every Friday lunchtime; at The Mount; or in parishes by invitation. We also offer spiritual direction, counselling, mentoring and befriending. Our counsellors are professionally trained and registered. Likewise, I also teach on all aspects of the healing ministry and provide seminars on related topics to encourage and develop the spread and scope of the ministry.
Are there common misconceptions about healing ministry (i.e. does everyone get healed)?
People have different expectations of Christian healing and are disappointed if healing is not immediate and complete. Two ill-informed accusations are frequently and distressingly levied at people who haven’t experienced immediate healing, “There is sin in your life” and “You haven’t enough faith.”
However, everyone has sin in their life, therefore it is always necessary to pray prayers of confession before praying for healing – not just for the sick person but for those who pray, so that the ground is ‘clean’ before we move forward. The sick or troubled person may also have doubts about their faith, but faith resides in the one who prays, and so we join our faith to theirs when we pray with them. It is a relief that Jesus said that you have to have faith the size of a mustard seed.
frequently unspoken blockage to healing is un-forgiveness and bitterness, which
need to be dealt with before healing takes place. This is a particularly
delicate area of ministry, as people must be brought to the understanding
of the necessity of forgiveness before healing happens. In all
cases, prayer for healing is simple and always in the name of
What is your vision for the future development of the Church’s Ministry of Healing?
Ultimately, I would like to see an active ministry of healing taking place as routine in every parish – that Jesus’ command to his disciples to “heal the sick who are there and tell them that the kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 9:2), would be taken as the mandate for every believer.
Until that happens, I would like to see more centres like The Mount, where ministry is offered free at the point of need, and where expertise can be taught. One of the most exciting things is watching someone nervously becoming involved in praying for healing and then seeing their prayers answered. They take a step of faith which God rewards with the healing they have requested. It is a striking way of evangelism.
What do you find most challenging or rewarding about your involvement in healing ministry?
The biggest challenge that occurs is when someone walks in, unannounced, with serious suicidal ideations. You realise that because they have come, there is a part of them that wants to live, and you pray that God will open a way of communication to healing; so you sit them down with a cup of tea and begin the listening journey. All the while, you pray silently for God to give you revelation and insight into their situation which will open a door of communication.
For someone who is fragile, or diminished, and has been very badly hurt in life – to respect them in paying attention to their distress is very important and without putting them under duress; to be given the privilege of pointing them to Jesus and watch as he sets the captives free, releasing them from the darkest dungeon (Isaiah 61).
The biggest reward is seeing someone come to a living faith; trusting their present and future into Jesus’ hands, and knowing that they are truly loved. It is the healing of the relationship between the person and their heavenly Father.
Saturday 22nd June at Echo Sound about 6-6.30pm.
Bring your picnic seats, food and drinks. Enjoy this award winning brass band in the beautiful surroundings of the Quoile Estuary.
The Good Samaritan Service at St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday 3 February 2019 was a wonderful service of praise and celebration of the generosity of local people giving to charities supporting those in need, both at home and abroad. It was a delight to receive from Lynda Bryans a cheque from the Black Santa Sit-Out of £550 for the on-going work of the Church’s Ministry of Healing: The Mount. The Friday lunchtime Healing Service held in the Chapel of Unity at St Anne’s every week, is the visible part of our work, while much is unseen and unheralded on hospital wards or in homes as well as at our headquarters 162 Upper Knockbreda Road.
We are very grateful to the Dean and his staff at St Anne’s who support and encourage us.
Dairy dates for 2019 are published…and now Pat’s prayer letter….
My Dear Friends,
Over the last year there have been considerable renovations completed in our garden at home, which included removing a long close line of Cupressus leylandii trees. They had been in place for over thirty years, but had surpassed their smart hedging years, and cutting back had merely delayed the decision to remove them. It was quite an operation. Men came with chainsaws and a large mulcher to reduce the branches into heaps of useful forest bark. They were closely followed by the man with a digger to remove the tree roots. Topsoil was spread and sown with grass seed, and then followed the impatient wait to see the seed germinate. Already we were looking on a new perspective. From the study window you could clearly see a long dry stone wall covered with lichen and beyond it, the lagoon, which fills and empties with each change of tide. Sitting at the study desk was like being in a concealed bird hide. We could observe the birds without disturbing them. We soon discovered that we had a resident little egret; white and smaller than his cousin the heron, who spent early morning hours in the lagoon stirring up the water’s edge with its feet, waiting to spear his food with his beak. If you drove over the causeway separating the lagoon from Strangford Lough he would take to flight tucking his long black legs up underneath him, like an airplane’s undercarriage, giving just a glimpse of his yellow feet. Some days the heron displaces him, but not for long, as there are bigger fish in the Lough. Over time on our journey of life we become accustomed to things the way they are, but occasionally we encounter a new and refreshing perspective, and are reminded that there are always different ways to revitalise and move forward.
During the Autumn term we held three seminars which were well attended. Two were based on the Old Testament: on the Book of Ruth, led by Dr James McKeown; and on ‘David and Goliath’, led by Mark Hamilton. The third seminar, led by Katie Shott, entitled ‘Autumn in Vogue’, was on being clothed in the Spirit and using our spiritual gifts. Although they were different in content, each seminar left us with a keen desire to learn more and, of course, live better! 162 was also very busy with individuals and groups visiting to learn more about the healing ministry. The Men’s Society from Inch and Kilmore visited one evening and were fascinated by the power point story of renovation and renewal of the property in which we work. It was good also for us to be reminded where we have come from and what we had to go through to reach this point. Again it gave a new perspective!
Quiet Days at Echo Sound also featured on the programme, starting in September with the Movilla Prayer Group, and a prayer group from 1st Presbyterian Church, Lisburn both in the same week. This was followed by a group from Hillsborough, and I also travelled to Fivemiletown to take a Quiet Day there with their prayer group. The Advent Quiet Days just before Christmas, came as respite during the frenetic activity of the term, and set the mood for the Christmas period.
A talk was given at Upper Kilwarlin Healer Prayer Group, which is one of our longest established prayer groups, and Healing Services were preached at Magheradroll Methodist Church, Down Cathedral, St Anne’s Cathedral, Divine Healing Ministries, Eglantine (Co Londonderry) Christ Church, Lisburn and St Patrick’s Jordanstown. Other services were taken at Ballyculter (Remembrance Sunday) and at Inch. A group of Second Year Medical Students attended the healing service at St Anne’s, heard testimony of healing from Joan Hughes and interacted with questions and comments after a short talk on healing. Frances and I also gave talks at St Columba’s Ladies’ Group, Ravenhill PW, and St John’s MU, Crumlin.
I spoke on the practice of the healing ministry at a day conference organised by Affirming Catholicism Ireland, at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Dublin, during which we had conference phone communication with Canon Dr Daniel Nuzum, Chairman of CMHI. The conference closed after a service of Holy Communion, with the Laying on of Hands with prayer for healing.
During the autumn one of the team asked if I would see a man, who wanted to pray the sinners’ prayer. I’ll call him William. He had not had a great life to date, having been separated by the social services from his wife and children because if his activities outside the law. When I got talking to him and asking him about his beliefs, I said, ‘William, I don’t think that you need to say the prayer because it seems to me that you really love Jesus. I can see it in your eyes when you talk about him’. That might have surprised him, but he said, ‘Yes, I really love him, but I want to do things properly’. How wonderful to lead him in the prayer. He subsequently brought his wife and daughters so that they might be led to Jesus. What a new perspective on life they now have. They are now living in the same house together, no longer separated, and attending their chosen church each Sunday for worship as a family, and also attending during the week for Bible study. His wife, who was walking slowly on a rollator when I first met her is now moving about freely, released from pain. For them God has made all things new.
The Book Club continues to thrive. When we finished the book, ‘The War Room’ we had a showing of the film which inspired the book at the Tudor Cinema Comber. We have now moved onto a new book, ‘Lifelines’ by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi. If you would like to join us, then please do, as each chapter stands alone, and we are always pleased to expand a group.
Fundraising events included the Table Quiz at the Lakeside Inn, Ballydugan; a Bulb Planting Workshop with Frances; a Coffee Morning and Sale at 162 and ‘Coffee and Cake’ at Ballyfrenis Church, Millisle, the home of one of our supporters.
Sadly, during the autumn, we laid Sandra Ferguson to rest, after a short illness. She was one of our long term prayer partners who pre-existed my arrival at The Mount in 2004. She is much missed, having served on the Emergency Prayer Line and on the team at our Friday Lunchtime Healing Service at St Anne’s Cathedral. Her constancy in service and her commitment to Jesus were an example to us all, and we rejoice in knowing that she has run the race faithfully to completion. Our sympathy is with her family.
During the term the rhythm of prayer and healing has continued in house and out, in groups and individually. The Prayer for our City and Our Land at St George’s, which we lead on the 4th Monday each month, continues to inspire and encourage as people join together in obedience to Jesus’ command, ‘Ask and you will receive’ (Mt 7:7). This has been one of the things that has encouraged us to spend more time in prayer and to open us new possibilities for prayer at 162. Canon Raymond Fox asked if we would be willing to host a group for Contemplative Prayer once a month. This has been agreed, and we hope to see the first group on Wednesday 16 January at 10.30 am. This group will meet on the 3rd Wednesday each month. This is an excellent way of prayer for busy people as it helps you to become still. If you are unfamiliar with this way of praying, and would like to ‘give it a try’ then do come and join us. The dates are on the Diary Dates sheet and on the website. All are welcome, whether it is a way of prayer familiar to you, or not yet!
During the coming term there will be seminars led by Rev Desi Maxwell and Mark Hamilton. As places are limited please book for these by phoning Frances on 90795832. Rev Desi Maxwell will reflect on Psalm 2, ‘Do You Hear God Laugh?’ on Wednesday 13 February at 10.00 am. There is a sandwich lunch following this seminar. The seminar led by Mark Hamilton entitled ‘between Death and Resurrection’ will be held on Wednesday 27 March starting at 10.30 am.
The Lent Quiet Days at Echo Sound will be on Thursday 14 March and Saturday 16 March from 10.30 am to 4.00 pm. Please book these well in advance and send payment to the office letting us know if you have any special dietary requirements. (Booking 90795832)
We are also running a four-week Prayer Ministry Course at St Molua’s Parish Church, Stormont on Tuesday evenings during March, (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th from 7.30-9.30 pm.) If you are interested in joining us, then please call the office on 90794832. This might be a suggestion to ‘give up’ the time for Lent, to ‘take up’ something new for the kingdom journey. We would love to see you there.
If you have not yet experienced our beautiful premises at 162, then please do call in, look round and see the beautiful garden or bring your group and have a more formal input and refreshments.
There are prayer teams and counselling teams at CMH, as well as office volunteers, but the one thing that unites us is our faith in Jesus Christ. All are volunteers and work for the furtherance of His kingdom on earth. I am very grateful for each member who works under His banner, because together we make a difference in a hurting world. Maybe as you consider the New Year, there is something that you could offer here, if so then do come and see me. A simple step forward could change your perspective completely and bring unexpected joy.
May 2019 be a year of great blessing,
Your sister in Christ
The two chairpersons….
Rev Canon Daniel Nuzum, chair of CMH Ireland and our own chairperson Rev Canon Chris Matchett together at the General Synod.
The Church of Ireland has two healing Ministries, one based in Dublin, the other in Belfast. They are autonomous charities, and have two members of each Board attending the other Board meetings to provide harmonisation. There is no hierarchical structure; or geographical or diocesan partition in the Church’s Ministry of Healing. Both Ministries depend financially on charitable support, and welcome contributions to their work.
Bringing Christ’s healing presence to those in need;
in body, mind or spirit
Pat’s Autumn prayer letter
My Dear Friends
How quickly the summer flies through. It has been quite an amazing season this year, and it isn’t over yet! It seems just a moment since we were searching for green buds on the trees to indicate the arrival of spring, and watching for the appearance of the swallows and martins. Gardening activities arrived with a burst of enthusiasm, and my keen gardener surprised me one day by saying that he had been attacked by a robin! I laughed, but, in justification, the scene was described in detail. There he was, quietly potting up some plants near the greenhouse when a robin flew aggressively at him, time and again, until he retreated some distance. He waited and watched to see what would happen next. After withdrawing to a high wall to observe him for a while, the robin flew into the greenhouse, then out and away. A careful examination of the shelves near the door revealed a small bag of fertiliser which was open at the top and now contained a beautifully constructed mossy nest. Over the next number of weeks, we watched discreetly from an upper window as the robin and his mate collected grubs and other delicacies for their clutch of four. We had our own home grown ‘spring watch,’ and our delight was great when they all successfully fledged. Will the robins nest in the greenhouse again? I certainly hope so. If the swallows and martins can fly such an amazing distance to summer with us each year, I am hoping that the robins will remember their secure, if unusual, home, and return to the second shelf on the right, lean-to greenhouse, Echo Sound.
Prior to going on a Wilderness Experience in Israel during February I had no idea that an estimated 500 million birds migrate through the Rift Valley, and that the same swallows and martins who spend their summer with us, have travelled through Eilat on their journey north. My mind finds it hard to comprehend how such small birds can travel so incredibly long distances and return annually to their chosen nesting ground. One can only marvel at their memory resource and built in navigation system, and be drawn to their Creator God, who cares for them, and us, as individuals. We become forgetful if we fail to acknowledge the Almighty’s hand in His creation. This became very apparent on our Wilderness experience, when, after our evening meal, we discussed the events of the day. Our local guide, a Jew called Michael, remarked, ‘When we passed through the Red Sea’. It was quite a notable comment and I wondered when he had done that, but it soon became apparent that he was talking about the Exodus, when the children of Israel were fleeing from slavery in Egypt. But he had said, ‘When we passed through the Red Sea’. He was so closely identifying with his Jewish ancestors. I was drawn to a verse in the book Exodus: On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exod 13:8) Remembrance of the Exodus became the central feature of Israel’s worship as father told son how God had fulfilled His promises to them. We too should take the remembrance of what God has done for us in the past seriously, because, it is in celebrating His goodness that we increase our faith and build on sure foundations.
During the Spring/Summer session we held three fundraising events. The first was a very successful Sale and Auction at Down Parish, followed by a Coffee morning and Plant Sale at 162, and near the summer solstice, we held an evening with Downshire Brass at Echo Sound. If you have never experiences the latter, then look for the date next year, because it was an outstanding evening, with the timeless pleasure of excellent music, with the backdrop of the tide gently rising on the lough shore.
We held two seminars, one on ‘Daniel in the Lions’ Den’, led by Mark Hamilton, and the other led by Desi Maxwell entitled, ‘God according to God’. Quiet Days were held for Ards Methodists celebrating John Wesley Day; an Armagh Ecumenical Group; and two more which were open to anyone.
Prayer, which is essential to the ministry, has become an increasing feature of life at 162. As our year has become increasingly busy Frances and I took some time out to engage in a Fellowship of Contemplative Prayer three-day silent retreat at Dromantine in June. During this time the office was manned by volunteers.
Looking forward to the late Summer/Autumn programme we are delighted to welcome three groups at 162 in order to view the premises and garden, and learn about the ministry. Members of the Prayer Group from 1st Presbyterian Church, Lisburn; and the Ladies Guild from Donaghadee Parish will both come for afternoon tea; while the Men’s Society from Inch and Kilmore will visit on the evening of 13 September for supper. We are always keen to welcome people to the healing ministry
Seminars will be held on 19 September at 10.30am, on ‘Ruth’, led by Dr James McKeown; on 3 October at 2.00 pm by Katie Shott, entitled ‘Autumn in Vogue’; and on 17 October at 2.00 pm by Mark Hamilton on ‘David and Goliath’. Please book with the office (90795832), and come and bring your friends. We are always keen to receive new people.
Churches Council for Health and Healing are also holding a seminar at Cairnshill Methodist Church on St Luke’s Day, 18 October at 10.00 entitled ‘Healing through Forgiveness’, led by Canon John McCammon.
Our annual Table Quiz at the Lakeside Inn, Ballydugan, will be held on 1 September at 7.30pm. this is always an evening of challenge and a lot of fun. The Book Club have been discussing ‘The War Room’, a novelisation based on the film by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick, which will be shown at the Tudor Cinema, Comber, on Thursday 6 September at 7.30 pm. This has a great story line and we invite you to join us for this. Tickets can be obtained from the office (phone 90795632).
Frances is holding a Bulb Planting Workshop at 162 on Saturday 22 September at 10.00 am, which will help you with your winter/spring garden planters, and you will have one to go home with. As places are limited, please book by calling the office (90795832).
We have booked a table at the Ladies’ Night at the Secret Garden, Dundonald on Friday 28 September at 7.30 pm, for the sale of sweets, preserves and plum puddings. Our final fundraising event of the year is a Coffee Morning and Sale at 162 on Saturday 1 December at 10.00 am. Please support us in these events as they help ‘keep the show on the road’, and enable us to offer our services free at the point of need.
We have two Advent Quiet Days timetabled for Wednesday 5 December and Saturday 8 December at Echo Sound. Special diets can be catered for if requested in advance and booking is essential because of limited space (phone 90795832). If you would like a day for a group (6 – 20 people), then please contact us.
In our increasingly disturbed and troubled world it is good to keep our feet on the right track. Therefore, you may find that it is good to have a spiritual director or accompanier who will assist you on the path of spiritual growth. At CMH we have two people who offer spiritual direction. This usually involves setting aside an hour every month or five weeks for a quiet meeting and prayer. If you would like to explore this, then please give me a call at the office and we can set up a meeting to discuss the possibilities. For example, the spiritual director might recommend valuable readings, suggest ways of prayer and encourage participation in different devotions — activities you might not previously have thought of. The outside help and advice a spiritual director offers can often help you both deepen and mature your faith much more quickly than if you were doing it all alone.
Counselling as well as prayer ministry continue in our house at 162, and I am very grateful to our specialist volunteers for giving their time freely to help others, and a special word of thanks to Mrs Polly Graham, counselling supervisor and to Dr Heather Ferguson Brown for running our Counsellors’ Peer Support Group. We are very grateful to Canon Walter Laverty and Rev Alan Parkhill for leading our Tuesday Services, and to Miss Anna Quigley and Mrs Eve Parkhill our organists. Heartfelt thanks to our prayer ministry teams, Emergency Prayer Line and intercessors who work tirelessly for those in need. Finally my sincere thanks to Frances, who has consistently supported and maintained my sanity when things have become hectic, and who manages me, and my diary, beyond the call of duty.
Isaiah reminds us that our very names are engraved on the palms of God’s hands (Isa 19:16). He was talking of Israel who were in exile, but we are that close to Him. Often we do not remember that, but God does not forget Israel or us, His creation. Each new moment is an opportunity to remember Him and all that He has done for us and be grateful.
It is our special duty to serve you under God, and if you have any suggestions for teaching activities or seminars, then please do let us know. We would love to connect with you and your group and extend the healing ministry of Jesus in your location. Distance is no object.
Wishing you every blessing
LOOK up “Diary dates” until the New Year………
Quiet Days may be booked for groups of 6 – 20 people at Echo Sound. Phone office 90795832 Reserved on receipt of £25
Fundraising Events in September….
Alison’s Quiz Night Saturday 1st September resulted in about £1700 in donations. Well done Alison once again. needles to say she has secured the venue for early September 2019!!!
Cinema Night at the Tudor Cinema, Comber. Thursday 6th September. A great night, well supported, donations of £550. It was a powerful story of the power of prayer in adversity. Well done Frances and Pat, and the members of the book club for promoting this.
Downshire Brass Band Night….a wonderful evening in warm sunshine.
Make sure you come mid-June 2019.
The new Chairman is Canon Chris Matchett, Rector of St Mark’s Parish Church, Newtownards. His appointment was welcomed by everyone at the AGM.
Chairman Dermot O’Callaghan tendered his resignation in May 2018 after five years to concentrate on another area of Ministry. On 3rd May the Board elected a new Chairman and new Board members and this was approved at the AGM.
Pat preached in the new Archdeacon of Dalriada
The Rev Paul Dundas, rector of Christ Church Parish, Lisburn, was appointed Archdeacon of Dalriada by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy. Paul succeeds the Very Rev Stephen Forde, who was installed as Dean of Belfast in St Anne’s Cathedral. The photographs say it all…
Frances Gibson, receiving a cheque for £550 from Tim McGarry at Belfast Cathedral for the work of the Church’s Ministry of Healing The Mount. This was the first distribution ceremony for Dean Stephen Forde, the proceeds of the 41st Black Santa Sit-out last December.
After only just five years, the loan of £157,000.00 has been repaid. This has been a remarkable achievement for all concerned.
To God be the Glory, great things He has done, and continues to do……..
Shrubs and plants. Rab has a selection of shrubs which can be ordered by email ,phone or calling with Frances, and then collected at 162. If you are looking for something in particular, just email through the web site and leave a telephone number.
——for you in God’s Mission in 2018 by being part of the Prayer Line, Emergency Prayer Line, Prayer Teams for Services and Individual Ministry (Training and experience will be given), and in administrative tasks such as preparation of publications, catering teams and house/garden maintenance.
Telephone the Office for information 9079 5832
you are always welcome to call in for a natter and coffee/tea at 162
or come and spend time in the prayer garden an oasis overlooking the City