graceful journey updateGraceful Journey, a pilot project by the Minnesota Council of Churches in partnership with Honoring Choices Minnesota, is designed to help people think about the kinds of decisions that need to be made at end of life, to offer the tools necessary to discuss and make those decisions, and to encourage congregations to provide the care needed to make end of life a graceful journey for its members.  
Graceful Journey acknowledges that life is a journey.  Decisions are made at every stage of life – where to live, who to marry, which school to attend, what kind of vacation to take, what profession we choose.    With the aging of the baby boomers, we are facing an unprecedented demographic shift in our country.  Although most people want to avoid talking about and making decisions about the end of life, the consequences of not having the discussion can be grim.  Graceful Journey offers a way to have those conversations - and to make decisions on the basis of deeply held religious beliefs surrounded by a caring community of faith.

On a cold January 24, 2013, Betsy Barton and Jeanne Twohig from Project Compassion facilitated a Train-the-Trainer workshop for Graceful Journey Faith Ambassadors. Jeanne Twohig has worked in the field of end of life care for more than 15 years and is currently a senior consultant for the Center to Advance Palliative Care, a national organization based at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Betsy Barton currently conducts research on the correlations between religion, spirituality, and depression at Duke University Medical Center.  She has spearheaded the development of workshops based on The Unbroken Circle: A Toolkit for Congregations Around Illness, End of Life, and Grief, now offered nationally.

These Project Compassion representatives introduced the Faith Ambassadors to an array of tools in The Unbroken Circle by James Brooks – including their use in creating Congregations of Care.  A Congregation of Care is a church in which the entire congregation becomes a support system to family and loved ones during illness, death and dying, and grief. Faith Ambassadors are giving Advance Care Planning presentations in churches and motivating individuals to have the conversation as well as engaging congregations to consider becoming a Congregations of Care.

Ten Graceful Journey Faith Ambassadors also received scholarships through the TCMS Honoring Choices Minnesota partnership to be trained ACP facilitators.  As certified facilitators, they are now able to fill requests to complete a healthcare directive after conducting ACP presentations in congregations.

Graceful Journey currently has two presentation options for churches, two 90-minute presentations or four 45-minute for adult education in pilot sites.  In addition, Graceful Journey is seeking churches to become Congregations of Care and developing a sermon outline, liturgy, and other resources and tools to assist pastors in talking about end of life issues from the congregation’s pulpit.

For additional faith-based information, please contact Helen Jackson Lockett-El at 612-230-3345 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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