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Posts Tagged "Listening":

A Day at the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation

Whitehill Chase, which describes itself as ‘a safe place for healing’, is home to a resource centre and meeting place near Alton in Hampshire which runs courses on ‘listening, healing and reconciliation’. Its chaplain is the Revd Christine Knifton, whose original background was in medicine. After ordination, she spent four years as a chaplain in the National Health Service and then came to the centre in 2005.

Although one can see the overlap between listening, healing and reconciliation (in order to reconcile one obviously needs to listen and heal), they are three separate strands in the foundation’s work and many people come here following one particular strand.

It is difficult to write this, because I do not want to embarrass either you or me by being too personal. Let me just explain a little of how I came to spend the day here. There is a small prayer group which crosses two benefices in different deaneries  in order to pray for the needs of those in our valley, a more primeval form of community than the modern divisions of the Church of England, as well as the wider needs of the Church and the world. I was invited to join the group a year or so ago and was told that it was the group’s custom to make an annual visit to Whitehill. The appointed day duly arrived, and with little idea of what was in store, I joined my fellow pray-ers (not sure that we quite see ourselves as warriors).
The first thing about the day is that it was very unstructured. I thought perhaps there would be lectures, but instead we were greeted with some excellent strong coffee, and left to explore the grounds, sit around and chat or visit the bookshop. The only fixed point of the day was the service in the chapel (see illustration).  There was space, the luxury of allowing for serendipity, as a secular world would say, or the operation of the Holy Spirit, as others might describe it. Time and space were allowed for something – or nothing – to happen. Most days here are more packed with content than this, as a glance at their busy programme shows. But I really appreciated this flexibility.

Again, I have to be personal and say that the service itself was something  of a shock to the system. In my youth, I  -like many others- explored Hindu mysticism, Ouspensky and Sufism (well, it was the 1960s). But I never explored other Christian denominations or, indeed, any other way of being Anglican other than the middle-of-the-candle churchmanship of my upbringing. This was the first eucharist I had ever attended led by a Charismatic Evangelical (the Revd Christine Knifton). I found the service disturbing. (That is not necessarily a criticism, of course – I am sure Saul would have described his experience on the road to Tarsus as profoundly disturbing). I am still trying to work out several days later what I found difficult about it and why I am unable simply to dismiss it as just ‘another way of doing God’. One of the aspects which I do need to absorb is how different not just the practices, but the ramifications of the faith, are from my own, and yet we are all members of the Church of England.  The most striking example of this was the wording: ‘the body of Christ, broken just for you‘ (in my tradition, Christ died for us all, not individually).

This is what the foundation says about itself:

Invitation to Healing

This is an invitation to go on a journey into wholeness with God. Approximately 5000 people a year come to the safe surroundings of Whitehill Chase, the HQ of the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation to find the healing that they have been searching for. We have seen lives changed and healed and set free as a result.

Healing is an invitation to go on a journey into wholeness with God. People from all walks of life have come to the safe surroundings of Acorn Christian Healing Foundation to find the healing that they have been searching for.

Safe Place

We offer a safe place to just be and we have seen lives change as a result of participation in our services, retreats, training and quiet days.

Trained Ministry Team

We have a trained Ministry Team from all denominations who are there to listen to you and to pray with you if that’s something you would like.

Acorn is a safe place to be. All of the team are CRB-checked and have a wide experience within the healing ministry. We’re very proud of our team and the valuable contribution they make to our Healing Ministry.

If you would like to request specific prayer ministry, please contact us to make an appointment.

Providing Spiritual Care

Our Chaplaincy Project mission is about supporting the NHS mandate to provide spiritual care. We are already working with organisations like Whole Care and Christian hospitals such as Burrswood to establish chaplaincy within professional health care.

We provide the tools for chaplaincy through development and active listening training, given by our 1000+ Tutors and Listeners throughout the UK.

We have demonstrated that listening support helps people recover faster and better from their trauma. Now we want the whole of the NHS to benefit from this care resource.


I am particularly struck by the expression ‘safe’ in this connection. Though I imagine it is meant in the context of CRB checks etc, as I was brought up on the works of C S Lewis, I cannot resist quoting from ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’:

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”


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