'Apostle of Healing,' Charismatic Episcopal Bishop Eugene Lilly Dies at 82

January 1977 "Charisma" cover featuring Gene Lilly; Lilly in later years as a bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (Courtesy)
Rev. Lowell Eugene "Gene" Lilly of Cape Canaveral, Florida, who retired as a bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, died Dec. 10, 2021, at age 82. He served as a bishop in Davao City, Philippines, where he and his wife, Phyllis, lived for 12 years.

Born in Richmond, Indiana, on Nov. 2, 1939, and diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 15, Lilly experienced a dramatic turnaround when, after years of wavering commitment to the Lord, he experienced total healing at a Charles and Frances Hunter miracle crusade in Orlando, Florida. There, on Dec. 13, 1973, Frances told him he needed a "Jesus overhaul," a January 1977 Charisma cover story reports.

After Frances placed both hands on the sides of Lilly's face and prayed for that overhaul, he fell to the ground under the power of the Holy Spirit. He felt as if the Lord were performing surgery on him as he lay there, he told Charisma. Ultimately, he rose and walked, unassisted, back to his seat.

"Every step I took I got stronger," he said. "I knew God's Word is true. HE HAD HEALED ME!" That day, Lilly was completely healed of both multiple sclerosis and diabetes, healings later confirmed by his physician in an official affidavit.

But the "Jesus overhaul" led to much more than Lilly's personal healing. He became a Pentecostal/charismatic missionary evangelist, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, including healing and miracles, across the globe. He wrote books and articles, including this feature on forgiveness and healing for the November 1976 issue of Charisma magazine, and Don't Limit God, co-authored with Charles and Frances Hunter. Eventually, he joined the Charismatic Episcopal Church, continuing his itinerant ministry and emphasis on prayer and healing until his 2017 retirement.

"He wore himself out for Jesus," says family friend Mary Jo Clouse, who worked as Lilly's administrative assistant for six years in the early days of his ministry. "He was always upbeat, positive, always praying ... he always talked about the blessings of God."

"He was a man of joy, full of the power of God, who fully believed in healing," Clouse added. "He spread joy wherever he went. No matter what circumstance anyone faced, he always went back to the Word of God. He would quote a Scripture and tell them, 'This is what Jesus said.'"

Church of the Messiah in Jacksonville, Florida, announced Lilly's death via a Facebook post, noting that he "had served The Lord for decades and across the world":

A fellow bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, David Epps, also posted his memories of Lilly on Facebook, noting that he was "a good and godly man and one who embodied what it meant to be a caring bishop and a faithful shepherd. He was a man of faith, an encourager, a person who exhibited the joy of the Lord, and was simply a wonderful example of what a Christian man should be."

Lilly is survived by his wife, Phyllis; son, Douglas Lilly of Ocala, Florida; daughter, Gina Johnson (Lonnie) of Cocoa, Florida; sister, Becca Clouse of Lynn, Indiana; sister-in-law, Nancy Couch of Surprise, Arizona; and nephews and nieces. His parents, Lowell and Alice Lilly, grandparents and grandson, Christopher Lilly, all preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 21, 2021, at Beckman Williamson Funeral Home in Viera, Florida, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m.

Please join the Charisma staff in praying for Lily's family and all those impacted by his far-reaching ministry and life of faith.

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