7:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I (In-person only)

10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist Rite II (both in-person and online via FB & YouTube)


7:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II (In-person only)

9:00 p.m. – Compline (online via FB)


12:05 p.m. – Healing Eucharist, Rite II (In-person only)

9:00 p.m. – Compline (online via FB)

Click here for worship times Close

A Message from Deonna- August 15, 2023

A Message from Deonna- August 15, 2023

Sticking Around Part II:  Integrated Healing

In my message last week, I shared with you that I was embarking on a degree in clinical mental health counseling.  This week I wanted to share how I hope to bring this new focus into my ministry and community life at St. John’s.

One of the reasons I am pursuing this path is that I have realized that an unfortunate gap has emerged with respect to how we approach healing in our society.  Back in the early days of the church, the task of healing was primarily located within the Christian community.  For example, the first hospitals were born in churches, with monks and nuns being nurses and physicians, caring for those who were ill.  Also, if you look at early monastic writings, the whole approach of spiritual direction was aimed at helping people heal from sicknesses that were thought to be directly caused by sin.  While we don’t hold this prevailing view now, the connection between some sins and certain sicknesses may still be worth exploring.

But as we have progressed through the scientific age, and have a much clearer understanding of human anatomy, physiology, and neuroscience, the art of healing now almost exclusively belongs to the scientific and “secular” realm of physical medicine.  Religious beliefs and spiritual practices which were once thought to be an integral part of healing are seen as completely irrelevant by many (though not all) doctors.  This has also been mostly true in the mental health field as well.

I have had several experiences over the past few years which have convinced me that a more integrated approach to healing the human person is needed.  For example, when I was a professor at Air University, I worked with a number of people who were men and women of faith, but who suffered from combat trauma, PTSD, and other co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.  They went to the doctor to get medication for the physical pain they were experiencing.  They went to the mental health professional to get medication for the mental pain they were experiencing because of their PTSD, depression, and anxiety.  They went to the chaplain to get relief from the spiritual pain of war, which had produced a crisis of faith, loss of trust in God’s benevolence and the goodness of humanity, and loss of meaning and purpose in their lives.

Thus, the people I worked with had to interface with three different professions in three different buildings that were trying, each in their own way, to help them heal from pain, which stemmed from one traumatic experience.  However, the medical doctors weren’t trained to speak to mental health or spiritual issues.  The mental health providers weren’t trained to address medical issues or spiritual issues, and the chaplains had neither medical nor mental health training.  Because none of these professionals were skilled in either of the other two, my colleagues received well-intentioned, yet fragmented and unintegrated approaches to healing.  The doctors, mental health providers, and clergy are not at fault, of course.  They are simply products of our times and their own training.  Yet, if each of these professions is concerned with healing, then a more integrated approach and collaboration among the professions seems to be a great need.  Happily, there is more and more research being done on integrated approaches to healing, which is very hopeful.

As Christians, we believe that we were created in the image of God with minds, bodies, and souls/spirits.  And, helpfully, recent breakthroughs in neuroscience are starting to confirm what ancient spiritual masters already knew, i.e. the mind and the body are thoroughly interconnected.  The body influences the mind, the mind influences the body, and the spirit, however conceived, is somehow involved in the mind and body interactions.  Further, research studies have also confirmed that repentance, forgiveness, confession, community, and prayer all play positive roles to help promote holistic health, e.g. physical, mental, and spiritual.

In light of all of this, one of the things Duncan and I have been discussing, and we have brought forward to the vestry, is to think about creating a ministry center at St. John’s that focuses on this integrated approach to healing.  None of us are sure what that might look like, but it is an intriguing vision to explore.  While it is too much to ask any one person to be an expert in all three healing disciplines, it could be helpful to have practitioners from the three different healing professions all working together in one place, where the healing ministries can be coordinated.  To help us as a community start thinking about integrated approaches to healing, I am organizing our fall teaching series to focus on the legal, medical, mental health, and spiritual aspects of substance abuse.  So, mark your calendars for Wednesday nights in October beginning Oct 11th through November 1st!  I already have two confirmed speakers and I think we’ll have a great lineup!