EDITOR'S NOTE: Hope Haven Events, which runs the Christ-centered energy healing conferences posted a statement in response to our story. KUTV continues to stand behind the accuracy of our reporting.
(KUTV) “Dear Father in Heaven,” Robin Johnson says as she kneels with her patient. “We pray that this session will go well.”
This isn't a doctor's office. Johnson is getting ready to perform Reiki -– a form of alternative medicine focused on energy. On this evening in Centerville, she’s working on a woman named Jessica.
“In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen,” Johnson says, getting up and beginning to place her hands just above Jessica’s body. The goal is to help Jessica get back into balance.
“I can feel whether the energy is flowing or not,” Johnson said.
Energy healing itself isn’t new, but Johnson’s way is a bit more unique. A picture of Jesus Christ hangs next to her.
“I’m always hoping that Christ will come to assist in the healing,” Johnson said.
What Johnson is practicing is something known as Christ-centered energy healing. And she’s not the only one doing it. At a recent conference in St. George, hundreds gathered to learn about it. The organizer of the conference is Tammy Ward, a mother of eight children from Garland, Utah.
“I feel duty-bound –- literally duty-bound –- to share this with other people,” Ward said.
Ward said she got started with energy healing three years ago. One of her sons had a problem with his left testicle. Ward took him to a healer. She said what happened next was miraculous.
“She said she cleared it,” Ward said. “I didn't understand at the time. But when I went home I know when I changed my son's diaper that it was no longer swollen, and it hasn't ever been swollen since.”
Ward said that woman healed her son. She continued to visit the healer. She also prayed.
“I wanted to make sure it wasn't like woo woo, voo doo, you know,” Ward said. “I just didn't know.”
She said God answered her, telling her to not only pursue that healing for herself, but to teach it to others.
“One night I was told to do the conference, and that very first conference we had 1,400 people, literally from all over the world,” she said.
While those conferences are officially non-denominational, there's a general recognition that they're made up largely of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
David Gann was one of the few men who attended the St. George conference in August.
“This is what I want to do,” said Gann. “I look for people who can help me follow him better and that's why this is so important to me and uniquely leading me where I am trying to go.”
But most who show up are women. Just don't use the "F" word.
“I do not see it at all as a feminist movement,” said Tamara Laing, who also attended the St. George event. She said it’s no surprise LDS women are embracing this work. “I see this as a fulfillment of prophecy actually. Woman are using spiritual gifts and feeling safe using spiritual gifts.”
Ward is Mormon herself, but she’s quick not to draw lines.
“Heavenly Father told me that this is not just for the people of the LDS church,” Ward said. “This is for all of his children.”
But God's children will have to pay. This is a business. The Reiki sessions Robin Johnson conducts cost $90 an hour. The conferences require attendees to buy tickets. And Ward charges a lot more money to teach healing privately.
“I really believe that people who have invested in their time and learning how to do this should be compensated just like any other occupation,” Ward said, defending the practice of charging for energy healing.
On her website, Ward sells package deals. One offers 24 online personal mentoring sessions with her, among other things. The price tag she's put on her time? Roughly $1,000 an hour.
Ward pitches herself as a life coach who's “a great example of teaching others to trust our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
2News asked Ward whether people within her church accuse her of priestcraft. She didn’t say yes or no, but instead responded with a question.
“People who have, who are painting pictures of Christ, should they just automatically do artwork for everyone for free? They have a picture of Christ, it has Christ in the picture. What about people who are songwriters or singers who are writing songs about Jesus? Should they instantly and suddenly and for forever more make their songs free?” said Ward. “I don't think it's any different.”
Ward added she’s “prayed to know if this is OK with Heavenly Father, and I've been told that it is.”
But the LDS church is not sounding the same endorsement. 2News reached out to ask if the church has a position on Christ-centered energy healing and the movement spearheaded by Ward.
“We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises-in exchange for money-miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders,” said church spokesman Eric Hawkins.
2News attempted several times to reach out to Ward to ask for her response to the church’s statement, but we have been unable to reach her.