Faith communities in centuries past, responding to plagues and to the common experiences of death, developed practices called ars moriendi, the art of dying. Paradoxically, this “art” was also acclaimed as wisdom for living well throughout the whole of life.


What’s in Store

Join us to rediscover this forgotten wisdom through historical and scriptural sources and come away as individuals, families and church communities committed to living more gospel-centered lives up to the day we die.


We’ll be led by Lydia Dugdale, MD, author of The Lost Art of Dying, and John Alsdorf, who will challenge us to live all our days in line with the gospel and in light of our mortality. 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 will be a core teaching in our time together.


John and Lydia will be joined by Crystal Pressley, MD, and funeral director Justin Barfield who will cover the practical wisdom of healthcare proxies and advance care directives, and funeral and burial planning, respectively.


A Conference for Adults of All Ages

This conference is for adults of all ages and is 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. So, invite them to join you! Handout materials will encourage discussion and reflection.


Conference Program Highlights

Friday, October 20, 6:30-9pm (Doors open at 6pm)

  • 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 (Doors open at 8:30am)

  • Practical Wisdom: Healthcare Proxies and Advance Medical Directives, Crystal Pressley, MD
  • Practical Wisdom: Caring for the Dead, Memorials and Burials, Justin N. Barfield



Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 100 E. Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604

About Our Host and Speakers


John Alsdorf (Host)

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.