Congregational Care

End of Life

End-of-life planning witnesses to our trust in God’s gift of eternal life.

Proper end-of-life planning is an important consideration for all Christians. The pastors and staff at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church are available to speak with you about advance health care directives, planned giving opportunities, planning for your funeral or memorial service, and other concerns regarding this transition in the journey of faith.

Advance Directives
An advance healthcare directive is a legal document that specifies what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. A living will is one form of advance directive. Another is a power of attorney or health care proxy, in which you authorize a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf. One helpful resource is the popular Five Wishes program. If you would like to discuss your options for advance directives, contact the Congregational Care office.

Planned Giving
Planned giving is a way that each of us can make a final tithe, a return to God of some portion of all that God has given to us. The practice of planned giving encourages us to look beyond our monthly budget and our annual pledge to consider the gifts we will make to the church when our need for worldly assets is done. For more information about remembering the church in your will and other forms of planned giving, contact the Congregational Care office. We recommend that you consult with your financial advisor to determine the most advantageous charitable estate plan for you.

Planning Your End-of-Life Service
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church facilitates funerals, memorial and committal services for members, immediate family and friends of our faith community. These services praise God for the gift of life, witness to our trust in eternal life in Jesus Christ, celebrate the life of the departed, and minister to the bereaved.

Because it is difficult to plan or act wisely in a time of grief, we encourage our members to make a calm appraisal of their intents and desires concerning an end-of-life service and final resting place before death is imminent. Our pastors are available to discuss your wishes and help with planning. We are happy to keep a record of your preferences, as well as any other documents related to end-of-life planning.

For more information, please reference our end-of-life planning document; Witness to the Resurrection: Planning a Funeral, Memorial Service or Committal Service. This document also contains suggested Scripture and music for end-of-life services.

Ministry at Time of Death
When a death has occurred or is imminent, please contact the church as soon as possible (212.247.0490, ext. 3007) so that we may provide pastoral care to the dying and their loved ones. If the church office is closed, please leave a message for the pastor on call.

Arranging a Service
A funeral takes place within days following death, with a closed casket or urn present. A memorial service, in which remains are not present, may take place at any time suitable for the bereaved. A committal service takes place at a cemetery or columbarium, and may follow a funeral or take place separately. Please notify the Congregational Care office to schedule a day, time and place for the service (whether at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, a funeral home or a cemetery).

Depending on which clergy are available, you may choose a pastor to conduct the service. The pastor will arrange a meeting for family and friends to discuss the outline of the service, and select Scriptures, hymns and additional music, as well as participants. This will be an opportunity for the bereaved to share memories and pray about how best to honor and celebrate the life of the departed.