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The Clergy and Religious
Specialty Group

Rev. Wanda D. Craner


     I am an ordained United Church of Christ minister currently on staff in the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference as the Minister of Spiritual Nurture (1997-present).  My ministry involves traveling to churches within our conference and leading workshops, retreats, and worship services centered on themes of healing, prayer, and spiritual formation.

     My spiritual journey is one of a rich ecumenical blend.  I was raised in the Lutheran Church, attended Roman Catholic mass and United Methodist Church worship services in college.  I taught in a spiritual formation school which grew out of the Mennonite tradition and was located at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA.  As a young adult I joined the United Church of Christ, which has the motto, "that they may all be one."  My husband is Roman Catholic.  I feel so deeply blessed by the unique contributions of the various traditions centered in Christ.  I have been enriched by each in special ways.  And, I have also come to realize (coinciding to a sentiment once expressed by St. Augustine) that in the essentials the different traditions have much unity.          

     When asked by a school counselor in six grade, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"; my answer was, "a missionary, a teacher, or a nurse."  Little did I realize then, that God was going to wonderfully bring these three together in a fulfilling, and somewhat unique vocation.  I went to college and graduated from Millersville University with a BS degree in Biology and General Science.  After graduation I taught life science for six years in the Springford Area School District, Royersford, PA.  It was during that time that I was also heavily involved in Christian Education in the United Church of Christ; and I was also asked to work with youth at risk.  In the midst of my work in the church, I sensed a call to ministry, and that call was affirmed by the pastor and congregation.  This led me to go to Lancaster Theological Seminary.      

     While in seminary, I came face to face with some critical questions, "How does God heal in our world today?"  "Is it even reasonable to expect God to work in the healing process in ways similar to the way Jesus healed?"  You see, my 18 year old sister had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease.  And when she was diagnosed, she was in the 3rd of 4 stages.  The prognosis was precarious, to say the least.  I believed in a loving, powerful God; and I had the bent of a scientist.  All of this thrust me into an intentional search for answers.  During that search, I connected with Francis and Judith MacNutt, Dr. Kenneth Bakken, and Morton Kelsey, among many others, who were "known" in the field of Christian healing.  I am so grateful for their teaching and sharing!  To make a long story short, my sister was healed through prayer and medical interventions.  Because of treatments, she was told that she would never have children, and today her two children are healthy and in their twenties!  Praise God, and God's earthly instruments of healing!  While in seminary I took in courses in the Art of Christian Healing, Gestalt Pastoral Care, and Clinical Pastoral Education sensing a specific call to ministry in these areas due to my on-going interest in healing.      

     I graduated with a Masters of Divinity from seminary, with a strong focus on healing, prayer, and spirituality, and was called to be the Associate Pastor-Minister of Wholeness on staff at Shenkel United Church of Christ, Pottstown, PA.  It was at Shenkel that I developed a healing ministry involving prayer groups, healing worship services, spiritual retreats, and pastoral care.  I also completed the Shalem Institute's Spiritual Formation Group program in Washington, D.C.  After almost 10 years on staff at Shenkel, I was approached by the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ and asked to join the Conference staff in the position of Minister of Spiritual Nurture.  In this way, I was asked to share this special area of ministry over a larger geographical area.         

     In addition, I have a private Gestalt Pastoral Care practice, which integrates Gestalt growth work, Christian spiritual companioning, and healing prayer.  Gestalt Pastoral Care rests on the belief that God's healing grace is available to us, and that God desires to heal holistically - body, mind, spirit, emotions and social context - in a way that is unique for each person.  (Gestalt Pastoral Care was developed by Rev. Tilda Norberg, a United Methodist Minister and Therapist, and friend of a number of persons associated with ACT.)  My connection with Gestalt Pastoral Care initially came as Tilda walked with me through some of my own needs for deep healing, and then subsequently became my mentor, teacher, and now colleague in this area of healing ministry.        

     I don't remember exactly when I joined ACT, perhaps it was 20 years ago or so, but I do remember why.  It was because I so deeply believe in the necessary integration of psychology, medicine, and spiritual avenues of healing which ACT promotes with integrity and studied care.  My main involvement with ACT up to this time has been through written material: The Journal of Christian Healing, Reconciliation: The Purpose of Spirit-Directed Therapy by Fr. Joseph M. Scerbo, and books by Dr. Kenneth McCall dealing with Healing the Family Tree and Healing the Haunted, among a variety of other works.        

     I have been gifted by Dr. Doug Schoeninger's articles and workshops on Intergenerational Healing; and I provided some leadership at a workshop on Intergenerational Healing "years ago" within our local ACT region.  At a recent local ACT telephone conference, I was once again touched deeply by the prayerfulness and shared discernment in the group.  I said very little during that conference, but I benefited greatly from the grace and deep spirit of the meeting.        

     Up to this point, due to my vocational and family commitments, ACT has functioned primarily as an important resource for ideas and insights, integrating the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of healing. To date I have not been able to attend national gatherings, but I look forward to the possibility in the future!  For me, ACT provides a spiritual connection with persons who experience healing modalities with a larger view.   

Written and submitted by: Rev. Wanda D. Craner

For more information, please contact: 
Clergy and Religious Chair
SisterBettyIgo, SFP, M Ed, MS


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