For those who associate “healing” with the TV-spread image of Oral Roberts’ startling meetings, the quietly growing healing ministry in orthodox circles is just as startling.

In a four-day period last month, a cumulative total of 7,224 people attended staid services and meetings on Christian healing at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the heart of Philadelphia.

At the services there were no collections, no overwrought music, no shouted pulpit appeals. For nearly two hours, individuals slipped out of their pews to have clergymen lay hands on their heads at the altar rail and pronounce a blessing in the stillness of the ornate sanctuary. The introductory part of the service was recited, for the most part, and the rector, Dr. Alfred W. Price, spoke with a typical liturgical sing-song.

Healing’s new locale is largely the work of the Order of St. Luke, which sponsored its Eighth International Conference on Spiritual Healing at St. Stephen’s, since Dr. Price is the group’s warden. With the new locale there’s a new clientele. Dr. Price believes Roberts is being used by God (though he says there are fakes in operation). But “middle-class people are the most neglected spiritually. Without emotionalism, we appeal to a group which wouldn’t get help in a tent.”

While Episcopalians started OSL and Presbyterians are particularly active, membership extends to most denominations, which adapt healing into their own worship forms. At the conference, twenty-eight groups were represented, from Roman Catholicism to Christian Science; they came from twenty-eight states and eight foreign countries (one from India).

The growth of the healing ministry is a grass-roots phenomenon, Dr. Price acknowledged. “The laymen are way ahead of the church leaders. ...

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