September 22, 2011

“Final Affairs” Fair Offers a Good Way Out

Our church on Saturday used the format provided on the Vital Practices website to host a “Final Affairs” Fair where members could look death in the eye and walk away smiling.

The idea is have in one place information and resources about a number of end of life issues and to let parishioners engage professionals individually with their questions.

What makes it a “fair” are the booths and fair food provided. An ample continental breakfast and a beautiful lunch provided by our ministry coordinator were important draws for the day. “Lunch by Ruby” usually increases attendance at any church event by 15%.

The information booths included:

  • Wills
  • Estate Planning
  • Hospice
  • Planning your Memorial Liturgy
  • Cemeteries
  • Funeral Homes
  • Planned Giving

The day kicked off with a panel featuring speakers on each of these topics giving a teaser about what they would cover in their workshop. We then broke into a workshop session where people could choose two different topics. A third round took place over lunch.

After lunch we heard from the Rev. Lance Ousley, the newly appointed Canon for Stewardship and Development in what was his first speaking engagement in his new position. Lance did a beautiful job of setting the topic of Planned Giving in the theological context that undergirded the entire day.

People left with a great informational packet that the planning committee had pulled together complete with very useful workbooks for several of the featured topics.

Facing death straight on is a tough sell. But in a caring community setting with the right resources, churches can do their members a great favor by convening such an event.

As the rector, this is one way I fulfill the rubric included in the Book of Common Prayer on page 442:

The Minister of the Congregation is directed to instruct the people, from time to time,
about the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well being
of their families, and of all persons to make wills, while they are in health,
arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able,
to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.