History of Healing Pathway
In 1992, Rochelle Graham, a physiotherapist and a healing touch instructor certified through Healing Touch International, offered to give a talk at Naramata Centre about the healing work that she felt passionate about. When her presentation and demonstration drew 40 enthusiasts, the Centre decided to offer healing touch courses the following summer.
Rochelle felt called by God to teach healing courses within The United Church of Canada as a means to “reclaim the Christian roots that were the foundation of the church.” However, Healing Touch was a worldwide program for the medical community (primarily nurses) and the basic curriculum was a medical model that defined energy-based healing in scientific terms. The course participants at Naramata Centre kept challenging Rochelle to redefine the content into Christian theology. Gradually, as Rochelle and others continued to ask, “What does it mean to carry on the healing mission of Jesus?” the work evolved. Rochelle recalls, “When I asked the participants to ask God to work through their hands, in comparison to simply the intent to help, it was as though someone had turned on one hundred light bulbs in the room.” Rochelle was continually amazed at how the curriculum was led by God and how she knew that her job was to “listen and respond.” She began to “experience the theology of ‘I am the light of the world.’”
After conversations with Janet Mentgen, founder and director of the Healing Touch Certification Program, Rochelle received Janet’s blessing and encouragement to develop the Healing Pathway program, with the understanding that the new Christian-based curriculum would be kept separate from the Healing Touch Certification Program. By 1996, Rochelle was offering healing workshops from a Christian perspective throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
Rochelle explains that “it became clear that this work was quickly growing, and needed a home,” and “Naramata Centre was the logical location.” Out of a growing enthusiasm in both provinces, Naramata Centre partnered with BC Conference and Alberta and Northwest Conference to support the development of the program, and a Healing Pathway administration team (now called the advisory team) was formed to give guidance and accountability. Rochelle, with the assistance of the administration team, continued to formalize the curriculum and in 1998, after years of dedication and countless volunteer hours, the curriculum was adopted and the program formally named the Naramata Centre Healing Pathway with Rochelle Graham as the first Director. She was followed by Catherine Awai, Julie Gerhardt, Mary Ann Reid and volunteer Healing Pathway Instructors. In 2014 a new model of leadership was adopted with the establishment of a Coordinating Circle made up of volunteer Healing Pathway Instructors, advised and supported by the Instructors’ Circle, and supported by the Healing Pathway practitioners working in their communities across Canada.
In 2014 the future of the Centre at Naramata became uncertain. Encouraged by the then leadership of the Centre, in January 2015, The Healing Pathway Society became incorporated as a registered society under the umbrella of the British Columbia Conference of the United Church of Canada.
The program continues to grow and evolve. Rochelle’s vision of this work being carried out as healing ministries in United Church congregations has been fulfilled. There are now almost 100 active groups practising in congregations and communities all across Canada.