Ninety percent of Americans believe it’s important to talk about the end of life with loved ones. Just 30 percent have done it.
Courtesy of HuffPost | 10.21.15 | by Jaweed Kaleem
BOSTON - NOVEMBER 28: Old South Church Senior Minister Rev. Nancy Taylor poses for a portrait. The Old South Church may auction off a rare book of psalms to raise money for the financially struggling church. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON – NOVEMBER 28: Old South Church Senior Minister Rev. Nancy Taylor poses for a portrait. The Old South Church may auction off a rare book of psalms to raise money for the financially struggling church. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

During a recent Sunday service, the Rev. Nancy Taylor, who ministers at the historic Old South Church in Boston, startled her congregation with an unusual sermon.

Taylor pointed toward the pews, telling people that they were going to die. She called out younger and older congregants by name, saying that they, like herself and everyone else in the room, would one day stop breathing.

It wasn’t meant to be morbid or depressing. Rather, it was meant to help the people in the room face a fact of life that everyone has to consider sooner or later. The churchgoers, Taylor said, needed to think about what mortality meant to them — and to their loved ones.

People needed to talk about “how to live until we die… how to live into our dying… how to embrace the inexorable but too often unspeakable: death,” the United Church of Christ minister told The Huffington Post.

For a 10-day period beginning Nov. 6, the Old South Church is one of more than 30 Christian, Jewish and Buddhist communities in Boston and a handful more across the country that will observe the Conversation Sabbath, an occasion for communities of faith to have honest discussions about mortality, grief and the end of life.

“Through a series of sermons, forums and roundtable discussions and an all-church book read, we intend to cradle our congregation in conversations — and maybe even bathe them in lullabies — about this most tender topic,” Taylor said.

Her church, like many others, has already started talking about death during Bible study sessions and small group discussions, and plans to continue indefinitely.