Presbyterians Today

APR-MAY 2018

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22 APRIL/MAY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay In life and in death we belong to God. S o begins A Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Yet many Presbyterians struggle to claim this foundational article of faith. The predominant American culture keeps the reality of mortality hidden from public view, even within the church. In her 2010 study on American attitudes toward dying, anthro- pologist Dr. Helen Stanton Chapple describes the prevailing cultural view of death as a battle to be won, rather than an inevitable biological transi- tion to be accepted. A cycle of life-extending medical procedures as well as an ideology of heroism has superseded this ancient rite of passage. Dying has become an isolated act, rather than a generative process that invites society to live more fully in its humanity. Tea, cake and death The Rev. Talitha Amadea Aho decided early in her ministry that she wanted to counter this prevailing denial of death in American culture. Inspired by the work of hospice organizations, she was determined to host a congregational conversation on death and dying. When a friend introduced her to the resources of the Death Café movement, she knew she had the perfect way to "take away the sting" of gazing into the abyss. Begun in 2010 by Jon Underwood in England, the Death Café concept Millennials are dying to talk about dying BY GUSTI LINNEA NEWQUIST '

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