When the Time Comes

FiveWishesAs part of their care ministries, some congregations are encouraging their members to prepare advanced directives (often called ‘living wills’) and are assisting them in doing so. Congregations are uniquely positioned to help persons consider their wishes in the context of their faith and with the support of their faith community. Often a congregational leader walks with an individual and family when the individual cannot speak for himself/herself.

An increasingly popular tool for congregational use is Five Wishes.  This resource offers persons the opportunity to consider and express their personal wishes regarding their relationships and their faith and spirituality, not just their medical care.

The five areas covered are:

  • who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them;
  • the kind of medical treatment you want or don't want;
  • how comfortable you want to be;
  • how you want people to treat you (including spiritual care);
  • and what you want your loved ones to know (including preferences for a funeral or memorial service). 

All materials are written in easy-to-understand language and lend themselves to small group conversation.

Congregations of all faith traditions have used the Five Wishes program.  Materials include a video about the process and print or online copies of Five Wishes in English and Spanish, as well as age-appropriate versions to assist seriously ill children or youth in expressing themselves. 

In many states, Five Wishes is now accepted as a legal advanced directive, but in Indiana other legal documents are required for the medical portion of one’s wishes.  Hoosiers completing Five Wishes can simply append the document to the Indiana form or provide it to their family and/or clergy leader.

For assistance in using this resource or identifying additional resources for your care ministries, contact the Center for Congregations.

Wendy McCormick
Southwest Director