About four decades ago, Larry Mitchell introduced an innovation similar to the Rev. Canon Asselin’s (see story at left). Mitchell is an archdeacon emeritus who for 29 years was rector of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Saskatoon.
Early in his tenure, Mitchell became involved with the International Order of St. Luke the Physician (OSL), an ecumenical organization started in 1932 by John Gayner Banks, an Episcopalian priest. Today, with more than 7,000 current members, OSL provides missions, conferences, training and resources on Christian healing ministry.
“As a new priest, I wanted to make a real difference for the people coming to church who were hurting,” says Mitchell. One Sunday, after talking about how Jesus healed the sick, he invited people to come forward to the altar for a healing prayer. Then he turned and knelt in front of the altar. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be fired!’ ” he recalls.
The lineup for healing extended along the altar rail and down the aisle to the back of the church. “That experience told me this is a ministry the church needs to develop,” says Mitchell, who served as North American director of OSL from 2004 to 2011. The first Canadian to hold the office, he retired from OSL last year at age 70, but still serves as an ex officio board member.