The Revd Jackie Cray, the newly ordained wife of the Bishop of Maidstone, Kent, England, introduced the spouses to the session by reflecting upon the journey that they had travelled together which had led them to this point in the programme. It was, she said, absolutely appropriate that they should now turn to look at their own spiritual and physical health and how they could best care for those in their Dioceses and Provinces.
Before introducing the speakers for the session, Jackie Cray spoke of her experience of being supported by the church during a very difficult time of ill-health in the family. She said that she and her husband were forever grateful for the way in which the church family prayed for, cared for and virtually fed them as they lived through long and difficult days of illness.
Dr Maria Akrofi was the next to speak. An anaesthetist by profession, she explained that she worked in Liverpool and also in Ghana where her husband was the Bishop of Accra and the Archbishop of West Africa.
She introduced the spouses to Jesus the Healer but said that, before they could become properly acquainted with Jesus the Healer, they needed to meet Jesus the Protector. Talking about her work as an anaesthetist she said, ‘When I am working I am working with Jesus; I pray over the patients; I pray over the drugs; I ask Jesus to remove the side effects of the drugs and to enhance the good effects. I call on angelic assistance and when my patients wake up and say they have a nice dream whilst they were asleep, I give thanks to God.’
Maria went on to talk about health and wellbeing and the factors which can militate against it. She spoke of the spouses’ need to take care of themselves, looking after their spirit and soul as well as their physical health.
Following Maria’s presentation the spouses talked in groups around their tables.
Then Professor John Copeland, the President of the World Federation for Mental Health, spoke of mental health as ‘well-being’ which he described as achieved by a successful interaction between the mind and the cultural environment; between the mind and its own spirituality and the mind and the rest of the physical body and the mind and a healthy external environment.
He described some of the symptoms of mental ill-health and said that one in four around the world would suffer from mental illness at some stage in their life. He spoke of how this led to ill treatment in the community, hospitals and prisons.
He illustrated the work of the World Federation for Mental Health across the world. At the end of his presentation the spouses had time for prayer for themselves and each other and the opportunity for anointing with oil.