The Hickson Healing Mission – 1922
A significant event in the history of St. John’s occurred in 1922, with the visit of James Hickson, who was travelling the world as part of a healing mission.
James Moore Hickson was born on 13th August 1868 in Broken River, Victoria, Australia to Robert Onslow Bellerophon Hickson and Emily Villeneuve Watton, the sixth of thirteen children. His family can be traced back to ca. 1720.
Faith healing shifted back into vogue during the early years of the 20th century in London. Percy Dreamer, one of the early enthusiasts at this time, established a guild in the company of like-minded enthusiasts, one of whom was James Hickson, a young man who felt that God had laid on him a gift of healing through prayer. The aim of the guild was to help people within the fellowship of God’s family to receive the freedom and life promised by Jesus Christ, aiming to implement this through prayer, sacrament, counselling, and healing. It hoped to remove polarisations between the caring professions and medical services and to enable all members to study the interaction between physical, mental and emotional factors in well-being and their relationship with the spiritual life in prayer and meditation.
On the 10th of October 1905, Hickson founded The Society of Emmanuel which changed its name to The Divine Healing Mission (D.H.M.) in 1933. Hickson was a sensitive Anglican layman of tireless energy. With his co-founders, he felt constrained to proclaim Christ as the Healing Saviour. He consulted Archbishop Randall Davidson at Lambeth and told him all that God had laid on his heart for the revival of this ministry. The archbishop commissioned and blessed him, charging him to go forward like the patrol of an army throughout England and come back and report.
His international work began in the U.S.A. and Canada, then India, China, Japan and the Philippines. He received the commission and blessing of each diocese. People filled the cathedrals for the services and the bishops took part. In 1921 he set out again for Egypt, Palestine, Rome and Paris, then to South Africa, Rhodesia and on to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. Articles about Hickson state that after his tour, the Australian bishops wrote a remarkable document, testifying to the results of Hickson’s visits (but no reference is available for that letter).
It is oddly significant that Launceston, Tasmania should receive a visit as it was Mr Hickson’s intention to visit only the cathedra in the capital cities of each state. However he was prevailed upon by church people in Launceston as to the spiritual integrity of the parishioners and assured him of a good following. (Hickson went on to visit other regional centres of Australia in 1923.)
In Launceston it was decided to hold the mission over two days, 15th and 16th February 1922, in St John’s Church. Hickson arrived on 13th and preparations began. The clergymen notified their flock that a ticket was required and a short, written summary of their special needs, because of seating constraints. A nurse, doctor or carer could accompany a patient to St John’s. Many of these summaries have been retained within the church archive collection.
The patients and nurses were organised by the Reverend E.G. Muschamp of Holy Trinity acting as secretary and the Reverend D. Ross Hewton of St John’s, assisting Mr Hickson. Ministers from other denominations were also present.
With the view of teaching a number of church people, Mr Thompson is to preach at. St. Paul’s at 11, and St. John’s in the evening at 7. and, in addition, he will hold a united gathering of church people and those who are interested in the mission in St John’s Church on Sunday evening at 8:33 p.m., after the close of the other services in the city.
The services began each day at 10 am, with patients coming from east and west, and with the large band of intercessors engaged in the church, there will be practically no space except for those actively engaged in the work of the mission.
Medical men and nurses were invited to be present, and it was hoped that thorough testing will take place as to the reality of the cures. Mr. Hickson did not profess to cure every or any particular case. Launceston people who knew Mr. Hickson as a boy testify to the gift he had as a child of sending away headaches by laying his hand on the aching head. Since then thousands of people in every continent claim to have been cured of such afflictions as blindness, deafness, cancer, paralysis, arthritis, and epilepsy.
As to the success of the mission, over 216 people came forward for healing. In addressing the faithful gathered, Mr Hickson said, “I want you to try to realise that, this is as much your mission as it is mine. I am merely the channel through which God will manifest Himself to those who are in trouble and distress; l want you to realise that I have no power in myself to heal. I do not believe that any other man has that power in himself either. If you hear a man talking about what he can do, you will know that he has not advanced very far. Behind the act of faith which we make by the laying on of hands, there is the Spirit of God. There is nothing new whatever in this message. Even before the advent of Christ,” Mr Hickson continued, “it was prophesied that He would come to heal the sick, and Christ fulfilled that prophecy as the Messiah. He went about in a very humble way up and down the roads of Palestine giving health. Disease and corruption in mind or body were abhorrent to Him. He went about His Father’s business in a businesslike way.”
James Moore Hickson died in England on 14 November 1933.
Most of these reports have come from The Daily Telegraph and Launceston Examiner for January and February 1923, having been written the day of the event or soon after. There is a wealth of information, not all of it supportive, about Hickson’s world-wide work, easily located by web searches.