The choices we make today – whether we are 25, 42 or 87 – affect not just our lives in the present, but our lives as we near their inevitable end. Or to be more direct, how we die and the legacy we leave behind. Are we gaining hearts of wisdom and walking daily more closely in line with the truth of the gospel now? Are we becoming more tenderhearted, forgiving one another and participating in the blessings of community now? And are we preparing our loved ones now to enter into our care and make decisions on our behalf when we can no longer speak for ourselves and after we have died?


Our conference focused on these topics, equipping us with biblical truth and practical wisdom, and helping us connect the dots between how we live now and how we die. Please take time to read and reflect on the resources below and commit to having meaningful conversations with your loved ones, with the goal of living and dying in ways that more clearly reflect the gospel to all around us.

Updated Conference Workbook

In this updated version of the workbook, you will find expanded content sections on each of the four topics or frameworks:

– The wisdom of scripture on living well as members of the Body of Christ,
– The ancient wisdom of the ars moriendi, the art of dying,
– Consideration of the complex medical decisions we must make when life is in the balance, and
– Choices often taken for granted regarding caring for the body of a loved one and the services available to us in memorializing them.

Whether you are new to this material or attended the conference, we encourage you to use this content to stimulate conversations within your family and among close friends about your hopes, fears and plans surrounding the reality of our shared mortality, as well as to guide you in decisions and actions you may need to take.

Download the updated workbook here!

Additional Resources:

Write Your Own Obituary Guide

Funeral Planning Guide

Recommended Book List

Articles Dealing with the End of Life

Dr. James Boice’s Testimony After His Cancer Diagnosis. Dr. James Montgomery Boice was Senior Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for many years. This is a transcript of a statement he delivered to his congregation on May 7, 2000, shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer, a cancer from which he died five weeks later.

Dying Gives Us a Chance to Confront Truth.      An op-ed from the Wall Street Journal based on the personal experiences of a professor at Duke Divinity School.

The Final Enemy. Carl Trueman, a theologian, reflects on the reality of death and how, as Christians, we need to move from denial to accepting it as reality, a reality that is an occasion to bear witness to the hope we have in the gospel.

Growing My Faith in the Face of Death. An article by Tim Keller, from The Atlantic, in which he candidly talks about his own challenges in facing his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

How My Mind Changed About End-of-Life Care. Justin Taylor, a Christian publishing executive, describes how he went from assuming that “being pro-life means extending life as long as possible,” by whatever means are available, to the position “that one can in faith (that is, without sin) decline ineffective or excessively burdensome medical treatment.”

I Want to Burden My Loved Ones. A thought-provoking article by a prominent bio-ethicist Gilbert Meilaender in which he challenges the often heard–and endemic in our individualistic culture–notion that “I just don’t want to be a burden to others.” The case is made that in God’s economy, we are created to be supporting one another in our burdens, that it’s in this regard that we fulfill the command to love (and be loved by) one another.

When Prolonging Life Means Prolonging Suffering. Kathryn Butler, MD has written a thoughtful article that highlights the questions we should all be asking ourselves to determine where a patient is on the spectrum between life and death.

Why Believers Should Consider Advance Directives. An article by Kathryn Butler, MD, from the Gospel Coalition website, with arguments for the importance of advance directives, key questions to consider, all embedded in a solid scriptural framework.

State of North Carolina Resources

Every adult, at the bare minimum, should designate a trusted friend or family member as health care proxy, also known as health care power of attorney. The office of the Secretary of State for North Carolina provides an extensive online resource that includes:

  • A message from the Secretary of State
  • FAQs
  • Various forms for downloading
  • Links and information on Hospice Care and Organ Donation

Our Conference Program At a Glance

Led by Lydia Dugdale, MD, author of The Lost Art of Dying, and John Alsdorf, we were challenged to live all our days in line with the gospel and in light of our mortality – that we may come away as individuals, families and church communities committed to living more gospel-centered lives up to the day we die. Because we are called to live in community as people who work to reconcile frayed and fraught relationships, this aspect of living and dying well was a core teaching in our time together.


John and Lydia were joined by Crystal Pressley, MD, and funeral director Justin Barfield who covered the practical wisdom of medical decision-making, health care proxies and advance directives, and caring for the deceased, memorial and funeral planning, respectively.


Conference Program Highlights

Friday, October 20, 6:30-9pm

  • The Lost Art of Dying, Lydia S. Dugdale, MD
  • A Heart of Wisdom, John Alsdorf
  • Q&A with Lydia and John
  • Family and Friends in Conversations About Mortality


Saturday, October 21, 9am-12pm

  • Practical Wisdom: Health Care Proxies and Advance Medical Directives, Crystal Pressley, MD
  • Practical Wisdom: Caring for the Dead, Memorials and Burials, Justin N. Barfield and the Rev. Claudia Greggs


A Conference for Adults of All Ages

This conference, brought to you by the 60+ Ministry, was for adults of all ages and was designed with special emphasis on engaging our loved ones – parents and adult children, trusted friends or relatives – in deep conversations about our hopes and fears concerning our mortality.

About Our Speakers


John Alsdorf 

Since retiring from his corporate career in 2002, John has been active in a variety of teaching and leadership roles in church programs. Here in Raleigh, from 2016 through 2018, he partnered with his wife, Katherine, in establishing Holy Trinity Anglican Church’s New City Fellows program. He currently is active as part of a team in New York City developing a curriculum to help adults of all ages to live more joyfully and wisely in light of our shared mortality. Over the years he has taught numerous adult classes aimed at deepening understanding of and commitment to the Christian faith. He also just completed eight years as Trustee for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national campus ministry.


Lydia S. Dugdale, MD

Lydia Dugdale MD, MAR, is the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at Columbia University. Prior to her 2019 move to Columbia, she was Associate Director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics and founding Co-Director of the Program for Medicine, Spirituality, and Religion at Yale School of Medicine. She is an internal medicine primary care doctor and medical ethicist. Her first book, Dying in the Twenty-First Century (MIT Press, 2015), provided the theoretical grounding for The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom. She lives with her husband and daughters in New York City.


Crystal Pressley, MD

Dr. Pressley is a board-certified general surgeon with certification in critical care. She serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at UNC and Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, and is also the surgery clerkship director at WakeMed for CUSOM. Crystal is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, is published in the American Journal of Surgery and is an alumna of the New City Fellows program class of 2022. Born and raised in Cary, NC, she is dedicated to community outreach and assisting those in need. Currently, Crystal is practicing general surgery, trauma and critical care at WakeMed in Raleigh, NC.


Justin N. Barfield

Justin is a licensed funeral director, embalmer and assisting management associate with Bryan-Lee Funeral Homes in Raleigh, with affiliate locations in Garner and Angier, NC. A first-generation funeral director, Justin began his career in funeral service at 15 years old with the local funeral establishment in his hometown of Tarboro, NC. Having experienced the deaths of three grandparents in less than a year, Justin found the role of the funeral director to be quiet and comforting, which led him to pursue that same calling of providing families with care and guidance during their time of need. Justin is a member of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association and Order of the Golden Rule, and an alumnus of the New City Fellows program class of 2022. He and his wife, Donna Lynn, live in Raleigh where they are active members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church.


The Rev. Claudia Greggs

Claudia grew up in Detroit, went to college in Boston and after moving to New York City, she heard the good news of the gospel and turned in faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. She attended the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, graduating in 1987, and was ordained the following year to the priesthood. In 1994, she married the Rev. Dr. Gil Greggs and moved to North Carolina, finding at last her true home.

Claudia served in a number of churches before joining the staff of Holy Trinity Anglican in 2014 as clergy associate for Christian Formation. Helping people find abundant life in Jesus Christ is her passion in ministry. She and Gil have two children, Caleb and Emily, a son-in-law, Andrew and a grandson, Alex.