Category : Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Gun Death Rate Nears Three-Decade High, With Men at Most Risk

The rate of gun deaths in the U.S. reached a 28-year high in 2021 after sharp increases in homicides of Black men and suicides among white men, an analysis of federal data showed.

A record 48,953 deaths in the U.S., or about 15 fatalities per 100,000 people, were caused by guns last year, said the analysis published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. Gun deaths declined in the 1990s, but have been rising steadily over the past decade and skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, said researchers who conducted the analysis.

Gun-related deaths of women and children have risen, the analysis said, but men remain far more likely to die from guns.

“The disparities are so marked,” said Chris Rees, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rees and his colleagues analyzed U.S. firearm fatality rates from 1990 to 2021 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. have died from guns since 1990, the analysis showed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Men, Violence

(NYT) Christine McVie, Hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, Is Dead at 79

Christine McVie, the singer, songwriter and keyboardist who became the biggest hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, one of music’s most popular bands, died on Wednesday. She was 79.

Her family announced her death on Facebook. The statement said she died at a hospital but did not specify its location or give the cause of death. In June, Ms. McVie told Rolling Stone that she was in “quite bad health” and that she had endured debilitating problems with her back.

Ms. McVie’s commercial potency, which hit a high point in the 1970s and ’80s, was on full display on Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits” anthology, released in 1988, which sold more than eight million copies: She either wrote or co-wrote half of its 16 tracks. Her tally doubled that of the next most prolific member of the band’s trio of singer-songwriters, Stevie Nicks. (The third, Lindsey Buckingham, scored three major Billboard chart-makers on that collection.)

The most popular songs Ms. McVie wrote favored bouncing beats and lively melodies, numbers like “Say You Love Me” (which grazed Billboard’s Top 10), “You Make Lovin’ Fun” (which just broke it), “Hold Me” (No. 4) and “Don’t Stop” (her top smash, which crested at No. 3). But she could also connect with elegant ballads, like “Over My Head” (No. 20) and “Little Lies” (which cracked the publication’s Top Five in 1987).

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music

(CT) Evangelical Giving Goes Up, Despite Economic Woes

The annual State of Giving report from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) found giving to ministries increased more in 2021 than it had any year out of the last 10. Inflation and the pandemic both raised real concerns for ministry leaders trying to make ends meet, but evangelicals responded to the crises with generosity.

The ECFA survey of about 1,800 members found they received more than $19 billion in donations in 2021. Adjusting for inflation, giving went up by about 3 percent. In the last 10 years, the increase has been closer to 2 percent.

“Contrary to what many expected, giving during the pandemic to ECFA members was strong,” Michael Martin, ECFA president and CEO, wrote in the report. “The findings we unveil emphasize the good work that ECFA members are doing to serve and expand their services in the face of inflation and other challenges.”

If Christians are excited and optimistic about the work of parachurch organizations, though, the numbers reveal a different story when it comes to megachurches. The ECFA surveyed 87 churches that belong to the financial accountability organization. Giving to those congregations dropped by 6.6 percent in 2021, following a decline of 1.1 percent the year before.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Stewardship

([London] Times) Queen Elizabeth II biography reveals stoic monarch in final days

According to the Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, she was in “fantastic form” on the weekend before she died.

He told Brandreth that she was “so alive and engaging”, and how they spoke about her childhood, her horses, church affairs and her sadness over the war in Ukraine. “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets,” he said.

Brandreth wrote: “Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.” The biographer claimed he “heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer,” which he wrote would explain the tiredness, weight loss and mobility issues that were spoken about during the last year of her life.

Her death certificate stated that she had died of old age.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on any of the claims in the book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Books, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Of what does the Hope of Heaven Consist (Isaiah 2:1-5)?

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

TSM reports the death of former dean John Rodgers

From there:

We share news of the passing of our second Dean and President, The Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers, and we join in praying for his family and friends. He was a tireless servant of our seminary and our country as a United States Marine veteran.

“Lord Jesus, be mindful of your promise. Think of us, your servants, especially The Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers, and when we shall depart, speak to our spirits these loving words: “Today you shall be with me in joy.” O Lord Jesus Christ, remember us, your servants who trust in you, when our tongues cannot speak, when the sight of our eyes fails, and when our ears are stopped. Let our spirits always rejoice in you and be joyful about our salvation, which you, through your death, have purchased for us. Amen.” (110. For Joy at the End of Life, BCP 2019)

More memorial news and tributes will be forthcoming.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

Please join us in giving thanks today for Anglican Bishop Chip Edgar of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(PRC) How Religion Intersects With Americans’ Views on the Environment

Most U.S. adults – including a solid majority of Christians and large numbers of people who identify with other religious traditions – consider the Earth sacred and believe God gave humans a duty to care for it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

But the survey also finds that highly religious Americans (those who say they pray each day, regularly attend religious services and consider religion very important in their lives) are far less likely than other U.S. adults to express concern about warming temperatures around the globe.

The survey reveals several reasons why religious Americans tend to be less concerned about climate change. First and foremost is politics: The main driver of U.S. public opinion about the climate is political party, not religion. Highly religious Americans are more inclined than others to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and Republicans tend to be much less likely than Democrats to believe that human activity (such as burning fossil fuels) is warming the Earth or to consider climate change a serious problem.

Religious Americans who express little or no concern about climate change also give a variety of other explanations for their views, including that there are much bigger problems in the world today, that God is in control of the climate, and that they do not believe the climate actually is changing. In addition, many religious Americans voice concerns about the potential consequences of environmental regulations, such as a loss of individual freedoms, fewer jobs or higher energy prices.

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(BBC) York Minster plan for solar panels as energy bills triple

Solar panels could be installed on the roof of York Minster for the first time in a bid to tackle rising energy bills.

The cathedral’s gas and electricity costs are expected to triple next year, a Minster spokesperson said.

Plans to install 199 solar panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle have been submitted to York Council.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the Minster was “committed to taking a lead on addressing the climate emergency.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon-What is the Meaning of the Feast of Christ the King and How does it impact us?

Listen to it all and there is more there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(Wash. Post) Michael Gerson, Post columnist and Bush speechwriter on 9/11, dies at 58

Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues as diverse as President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP and his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.

The cause of death was complications of cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.

After years of working as a writer for conservative and evangelical leaders, including Prison Fellowship Ministries founder and Watergate felon Charles Colson, Mr. Gerson joined the Bush campaign in 1999. Mr. Gerson, an evangelical Christian, wrote with an eye toward religious and moral imagery, and that approach melded well with Bush’s personality as a leader open about his own Christian faith.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General

(EC) Oxford Good Stewards Trust Announced in Response to Bishop of Oxford’s embrace of modernist sexual ethics

“Meanwhile, as a result of the partnership between the vicars of the four churches mentioned above, the PCC’s of those churches have met a handful of times for fellowship and discussion about how we might maintain gospel integrity, and continue to hold out the good news of Jesus as Anglican churches into our diocese. As a result, those churches have begun planning to set up The Oxford Good Stewards Trust (OGST), modelled on similar diocesan Trusts around the UK. A main purpose of such a trust would be to divert our ‘Parish Share’ (ongoing annual payments to “the diocese to finance the ministry in the local church – including the clergy’s stipend) to the Trust, in order to avoid supporting revisionist churches financially and indeed directly support churches that maintain Anglican doctrine. At the very least, in order to demonstrate our dismay, and how seriously we view the situation, a simple course of action could be to simply pay our Parish Share via the OGST. The actual setting up of the OGST was a pragmatic move to get the wheels turning, whilst we discussed how we might utilise it going forward. Whilst we have not yet made any payment to the OGST, the PCC officially aligned itself with it in November 2021 but are yet to contribute financially or to use it as a vehicle for payment (though we have received a generous gift from it). However, next Monday the PCC will be discussing ways we might utilise the fund more, going forward (with a view to making a firm decision in January 2023).

“As mentioned, in his essay “Together in Love and Faith”, which he launched on Friday, Bishop Steven argues for a change in the Church’s practice, saying the Church of England should now marry same-sex couples. This will also, de facto, involve a change in its doctrine. This goes significantly further than the Ad Clerum of 2018 as it firmly presses down the accelerator of change. Also, Bishop Steven is now the most senior cleric in the Church of England (so far) to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage, and will mean him becoming the leading public advocate for change among the House of Bishops (who meet next week to discuss this with a view to debating it at General Synod early next year). It also feels like a pre-empting of the results of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ initiative (a countrywide ‘discussion’ regarding human sexuality based around teaching materials that were biased towards a more liberal approach. I had planned to lead something at St Paul’s to contribute to this debate, but the coronavirus pandemic and my own health meant this did not happen).

At this stage, it is important to reiterate is that, as Christians, we object to sex outside marriage in any form, not because we don’t like the idea of it, but because the Bible (which is our authority/rule) is clear in its rejection of it. This means that all our deliberations need to be conducted in an atmosphere of love and respect, acknowledging that we all struggle in different ways with different sins.”

The story continues to rapidly develop.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

We are Gone Until Thursday for the Anglican Diocese of SC Clergy Retreat

We would appreciate your prayers.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(Churchman) J I Packer–Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and ourselves

[Charles] Simeon himself is our example here. The feature of his preaching which most constantly impressed his hearers was the fact that he was, as they said, “in earnest”; and that reflected his own overwhelming sense of sin, and of the wonder of the grace that had saved him; and that in turn bore witness to the closeness of his daily fellowship and walk with his God. As he gave time to sermon preparation, so he gave time to seeking God’s face.

“The quality of his preaching,” writes the Bishop of Bradford, “was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

-–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Veterans Day Statistics 2022

You can find a page of 4 graphs there. There is also a research summary here and an infographic there. An excellent short summary of the history of Veterans Day may be found at this link. Finally, a link for the Veterans History Project is well worth your time exploring today. The VA’s National Cemetery Administration currently maintains 155 national cemeteries (you can find more facts about the national Cemetery Administration there). Twenty percent (105,845 Veterans interred in FY 2020) of U.S. Veterans who died (estimated 592,682 in FY 2020) in the U.S. and Puerto Rico in FY 2020 were buried in a national, state or tribal Veterans cemetery. As new national, state and tribal Veterans cemeteries open, this percentage is expected to increase.

Finally, a 16 page teachers guide for Veteran’s Day 2022 may be found there.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

For Veterans Day 2020–The Poem For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(C of E) How words of familiar prayers or hymns help people with dementia

Residents at Westview House in Totland Bay, on the Isle of Wight might be living with dementia – but they could remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer.

As Anne Powell started to lead the informal service in the care home, several seemed initially confused about what was going on.

But when Anne started to lead them in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, something amazing happened. Long-term memories kicked in, as many of them recited the words they had learnt decades ago. Something similar happened as they started to sing ‘All things bright and beautiful’.

This is the kind of ministry that Anne Powell offers regularly, as an ‘Anna Chaplain’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Church group from Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland urges denominations to share spaces to tackle poverty

Churches are being urged to share buildings regardless of denomination for lunch clubs and worship.

The Churches Together group that covers Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland said it was reacting to “rising energy bills and worsening poverty”.

It said it had taken the “unprecedented step” of writing to every church to urge them to “work more closely at this critical time”.

“This has to be what we have to talk about,” a spokesman said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(CT) Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth’

Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying “Gordon Fee Is Dead.”

Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it.

Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul.

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Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) The Rev. Calvin Butts III, Pastor of Storied Black Church, Dies at 73

The Rev. Calvin Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, died Friday. He was 73.

The church, considered one of the most influential Black houses of worship in the nation, announced his death Friday morning.

“It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,” the church said in a statement.

Mr. Butts served in Abyssinian’s ministry for 50 years, joining as an executive minister in 1972 and becoming its 20th pastor in 1989.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptists, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(America) Collin price–The church forbids ‘human composting’ at death. But what about ‘green’ burials?

According to Brian Pham, S.J., professor of law and canon law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., the church considered anything besides a “regular” Catholic burial to be a pagan ritual until the early 20th century. Cremation was a practice most commonly used in religious traditions that believe in reincarnation. These religions often see the body as merely a vessel; once the soul leaves the body, the body no longer serves a purpose. For them, cremation hastens the process of the soul entering a new body because it gets the old one out of the way. Such beliefs go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The church teaches that the body is an integral part of the human person and that the glorified body will someday be rejoined with the soul in the resurrection. Cremation was forbidden for most of the last two millennia because its association with reincarnation and the negation of the body seemed in opposition to Catholic beliefs. But by the mid-20th century, cremation was being paired with traditional Christian funeral and burial practices. So the church updated its teachings in the 1983 Code of Canon Law to allow for cremation “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine” (Canon 1176.3).

In an effort to clarify what that means in practical terms, in 2016 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published instructions for handling cremation in a Catholic context. The document clarifies the church’s theological teachings about the body after death and applies them to acceptable burial practices. The church prefers whole-body burial but allows cremation as long as it is done in the context of church teaching about the body after death. “By burying the bodies of the faithful,” the document states, the church affirms the “great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person.” Any burial practice must honor the body as part of the human person and cannot consider death to be “the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the ‘prison’ of the body.” In other words, the intent of the practice may not be to destroy the body after death and must show the body honor and respect.

Scattering ashes, for instance, is unacceptable in the Catholic Church because the body is dispersed across the water or land where it is scattered. Human composting, which turns the body into fertilizer that is then scattered over a garden or around a tree, is also unacceptable. In California, a recently passed bill legalized human composting in the state, beginning in 2027. The California Catholic Conference expressed strong opposition to the bill. And the New York Catholic conference has expressed opposition to a similar bill in New York. The church forbids human composting because the body is treated as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

Father Pham summarized the theology underlying the church’s canon law about burial practices: “The primary focus has to be honoring and continuing to honor the person, which includes the body.” For the church, honoring means keeping the body together, putting it in a sacred place and marking the sacred place with the person’s name. “Canon law does not say a whole lot, other than that cremation is allowed but burial is preferred….

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Prayer for All Souls Day

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council pledges £2 million to house vulnerable people

The Archbishops’ Council has pledged £2 million of its £25-million Social Impact Investment Programme to a fund that delivers supported accommodation across the UK, it was announced on Tuesday.

The second Social and Sustainable Housing Fund (SASH II), which is managed by Social and Sustainable Capital, allows charities and organisations to acquire and own portfolios of property to provide high-quality housing and targeted support to vulnerable people.

A first SASH fund in 2019 deployed £64.5 million to 20 organisations. SASH II aims to pool £125 million to help more than 30 organisations purchase 1000 properties, which it says would provide homes for 10,000 people over the life of the fund, including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, experiencing mental illness or substance addiction, ex-offenders, asylum-seekers, and young people leaving care.

Current estimates suggest that as many as 200,000 people in the UK are living in temporary, transitional housing.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Youthscape charity to work with parishes on reaching young people with the Christian message

A £1.29 million grant from the Archbishops’ Council will fund work led by Youthscape to help parishes connect with young people and recruit and train church volunteers for youth work.

The Launchpad scheme, run by Youthscape, has already been successfully piloted in the Dioceses of Blackburn, London and St Albans. So far, the scheme has helped 140 Church of England priests to formulate plans to work with young people in their parishes.

Under the new funding arrangements, the scheme will be expanded to 450 churches across 18 dioceses over the next three years with the potential to engage with up to 4,000 young people.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Youth Ministry

(CT) Ewan C. Goligher–Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021. Has Death Lost Its Sting?

How then can we as Christians respond to the matter of physician-assisted death? First, we can call upon reason and the light of nature to affirm absolutely the value of life. Assisted death and suicide is said to be a matter of respect.

But to value a person is to value their existence. A willingness to deliberately end someone’s existence therefore necessarily devalues the person. If people matter, we must not intentionally end them.

Second, our churches can be communities where assisted death is inconceivable because the weak, the aged, the disabled, and the dying are regarded as priceless members of the community. We can be a place where those who suffer enjoy the devoted companionship, love, and support that reminds them of their value and bears them up through pain. This is, after all, what all of us long for.

Third, we can advocate for access to the very best medical and palliative care for those who are suffering or dying. The palliative care movement was started by a Christian physician, Dame Cicely Saunders, and has transformed medical care at the end of life. Yet access to good palliative care in the US, Canada, and the rest of the world is still far too limited.

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Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology