The Healing Power of Prayer
Rev. Malcolm Miner, an Episcopalian priest, and his wife Imogene are poster people for nonagenarians. Regular work-outs, careful diets, a deep and passionate love for God and each other – life for them at 90 is full and fulfilling.
Both born in 1920, Imogene says, “We call it a vintage year – it’s something we rejoice in every day of our lives.”
Whether playing accordion to accompany a church service for Inuits just above the Arctic Circle in Alaska (Malcolm) or at age 60 becoming a house-mother at the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority at the University of Washington (Imogene), they throw themselves into their lives seemingly as if on an adventure, and work wholeheartedly.
On Sunday, Nov. 7, after the 9:45 a.m. service, St. Michael and All Angels parish is throwing a birthday party for the Miners in the parish hall, and the public is invited.
It is St. Michael’s that claims the Miners’ hearts: It’s where they took their wedding vows in 1989 when they were both 68 years old, and it’s where Rev. Malcolm has served at the pleasure of the former rector, Rev. Jan Rudinoff, and the current rector, Rev. Bill Miller.
The couple’s long association began when they met in Washington at a seminar involving the International Order of St Luke the Physician (OSL), a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to all who are in physical, spiritual or emotional need. It seeks to provide Christians with the scriptural foundations for belief in the healing power of Christ.
Each was already married when they met, and for over a decade they knew each other’s names, but not much more. And then, on the 30th anniversary of his ordination, the couple, now both available, were at the OSL conference.
At the suggestion of a priest friend, Malcolm invited Imogene to join them at dinner so they all could celebrate.
Says Malcolm, “We got so interested in each other that the other priest left and we closed the restaurant. We figured out we’d better pay attention to each other.”
Says Imogene, “When you share a faith and belief systems together and have the same way of looking at life, you have a wonderful foundation.”
He says, “Every time prior when we talked, it was something else.”
She says, “It was the first time we were ever personal with each other.”
Both were 60 at the time. Geography interfered, but through letters, conferences and teaming to do workshops at different places, they gradually came to know one another better.
Says Malcolm, “When we found out that we really were interested in each other, we really had the beginning of a great romance. We had already become friends, and it makes it easier to be romantic when you’re friends.”
Malcolm describes their faith as strong. Being in an independent church they could believe almost anything they wanted.
“We find truth and beauty in Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu faith, and certainly in Islam,” says Imogene, who at age 67, having seen her children through college, went to college herself and earned a degree in comparative religions. “I think every one of the great faiths has some truth in it.”
Says Malcolm, “We acknowledge we are universalists in our faith, that God loves everyone, we are all his children, so we didn’t have competing belief systems.”
Imogene moved permanently to Kaua’i first, in 1987. She says, “The first time I came to this island I fell in love with it and decided that’s where I wanted to live.”
She’d purchased ocean-front property in Poipu when it was still reasonably priced, and the couple enjoys magnificent views of the ocean across the street from their home.
Malcolm retired from his parish in Alaska and joined her on Kaua’i in 1989, the year they married.
“I knew I’d leave Alaska at some time,” says Malcolm, “It’s not a good place for old people. The average age there was 25; when I left, I was considered an old fogie at 68 – I was ancient.”
Not too ancient, though. Rev. Rudinoff, pastor at St. Michael’s at the time, asked Malcolm to do services when he was away.
“As soon as it was out of the bag, I had become the supply,” says Malcolm. “I took over 17 churches when clergy persons were gone – all different kinds of religions.”
He was church hopping left and right. For a year, he says he and Imogene did a Ma and Pa ministry at All Saints Church in Kapa’a while he was an interim minister.
“We had a wonderful awakening time,” says Malcolm. “I was probably at my best year, even though I was 77 when I took the job.
“It was exciting, because it was so much fun having a parish and falling in love with the congregation and having them respond, and it was a great impetus for both of us in our lives. Imogene became dearly loved as a clergy wife, and they even asked me at the end of the year at (age) 78 if I would give up my pension and come back to work as a clergy person, but I told them our church had a rule that at 72 we have to retire.”
Somewhere in this time, Imogene was tutoring Koloa Elementary School second- and third-graders – and loving it.
“I’m a reader, to think of anyone not able to read I can’t believe it,” she says. “You must read.”
The whole time Malcolm was continuing a special healing ministry. He’s written three books on healing (now out of print) and says, with no ego or posturing, “I’m considered probably in the diocese the resource for healing prayer.
“I use the method Healing Touch, and taught it as many as 10 years before coming to Hawaii. I just called it prayer and energy healing.”
He’s seen remarkable things, such as a patient with brain cancer who got better with no explanation. And he’s traveled to 50 locations all over the U.S. and Canada teaching it.
Says Imogene, “I’ve prayed alongside of him. I figured that was more his gift.”
In churches where he’s spent time, Healing Touch is still a part of the parishes, continued by lay people.
Malcolm describes Healing Touch as going in and laying hands on people.
“You basically say, ‘I love you, I’m going to put my hand on your head and ask God to help you.’
“I’ve had it happen that I have touched someone and that person has had immediate relief. The fact is, people were changed because of it.”
For Malcolm, the ministry has mainly been with the sick and dying.
“That’s not an easy ministry,” he says, “though I’m not uncomfortable. I am a doctor’s son, a nurse’s son, I am comfortable in a hospital and comfortable with a ministry to the sick.”
The Miners have stepped back a bit, feel a mite slower, yet are still busy.
“I did an autobiography and finished it at 80 years old, and now I’ve lived another 10 years and a bunch of things have happened since,” says Malcolm.
It’s not a complaint. There’s plenty to do.
Combining families, the Miners have seven children – 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren – and the families live in locations ranging from New England to Australia. With a far-flung family, get-togethers as a whole are rare. Malcolm, for example, is the youngest of five siblings, all of whom he’s buried, and he stays in touch with their children and descendants as well as his own offspring.
“I know most of them,” he says. I write to about 75 of them in a family letter.”
Arriving at age 90 might imply gaining wisdom.
Speaking for both himself and Imogene, Malcolm says, “We think that the balanced life – of mental and physical and spiritual – is important. So we have tried to do that through involvement in the community with other people, and in the church for our own nourishment and to pursue things like reading about things we think might be important, and taking a part in political aspects of life, to some degree.”