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What are some effective ways a church can minister to a family who has a terminally ill member?

Tony Welty serves as an associate rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

When offering to assist a family with a terminally ill member, consider the family as a complex unit with particular needs. The terminally ill person in the family will have specific, medical needs, which are best met by physicians and their staff. It's best to let them do their job.

A church's focus is best suited for the emotional, spiritual, and even logistical needs of the terminally ill person. Ask how you can be of the most help and honor the terminally ill person's requests. Sometimes the needs are very practical. For example, the person may need you to go grocery shopping for him, help shuttle kids to school or sporting events, mow his lawn, help with home maintenance, take his children to church, and so on.

Try to maintain an open attitude toward the sick person as you listen closely for his needs.

When it comes to ministering to the rest of the family, try to think about each member empathically, with their individual best interest at heart. If a parent is ill, children in the ...

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