A great deal about the New Church message is captured in this quote from 'Apocalypse Revealed': "Charity without faith is not real, nor is faith without charity real, and neither charity nor faith is real without works. But in works they become real."
We are all meant to continually work on strengthening our faith. We are meant to allow the spirit of true charity to grow within us. And, we are meant express this faith and charity through doing useful things for others.
Many people throughout the church do wonderful charitable work in many areas of their lives. In doing so, they play their part in helping to make this world a better place. Still, it is often hard to know how a congregation might practice charity collectively. Our newest initiative at the New Church of Phoenix has as its goal to provide this type of charitable outlet.
Interested people are invited to join our team of hospice volunteers. We are in partnership with Prime Care Hospice, a local organization based in Phoenix. (Read more about them below.)
Our first group of trainees has now completed the course and is ready to be sent out into the field. Our trainees will be assigned patients near their homes and will meet with those patients as frequently as is agreed upon between the patient, the patient's caregiver, and the volunteer. Each visit will be an opportunity for a trained caring volunteer to provide a loving presence with individuals who are likely to soon leave this world. In other words, our volunteers help bring an additional human touch at this precious and sometimes challenging time of life.
Work in the field of hospice care seems to be a natural extension of New Church teachings concerning the end of this life and the beginning of the next. For instance, the book 'Apocalypse Explained' speaks of how the true person that we are exists on the level of our spirit and is not defined by our body. Many other teachings in this and other books say the same thing. During our life in this world, our spirit and our body are joined. This is how this "conjunction" is said to take place:
The conjunction of a person's spirit with their body is by means of the respiration of the lungs and the pulse of the heart, and that therefore when these cease the person dies as to the body, but lives as to the spirit.
We are spiritual beings living for a time in natural bodies. When the natural heart and lungs no longer operate, our consciousness leaves the natural body and enters the spiritual body. Because of this we can say that no one ever really dies. The body must one day die, but the spirit, the real person, lives on.
This passage from 'Heaven and Hell' reinforces what has just been said:
When someone's body can no longer perform its functions in the natural world in response to the thoughts and affections of its spirit (which it derives from the spiritual world), then we say that the individual has died. This happens when the lungs' breathing and the heart's systolic motion have ceased. The person, though, has not died at all. We are only separated from the physical nature that was useful to us in the world. The essential person is actually still alive. I say that the essential person is still alive because we are not people because of our bodies but because of our spirits. After all, it is the spirit within us that thinks, and thought and affection together make us the people we are. We can see, then, that when we die we simply move from one world into another.
I have no doubts that our volunteers will be happy to share their beliefs about the afterlife if they are asked or if it seems helpful. This, though, is really not what the work is all about. It is about providing comfort. Still, knowing that death is not the end but merely a passing from one type of life to the next, affects the nature of someone's interaction with the dying and their family. It means that death, while never a happy time, can at least be a hopeful time.
"The Lord loves everyone, and wants all of us to have what is good." This is a message found in 'True Christian Religion." Every dying person, therefore, is loved, probably more than they have ever realized. A volunteer who knows this can share love with others in their times of need. The volunteer can engage in conversations, read a story, play music, ensure that the patient is comfortable, or simply be a loving presence.
If this type of work appeals to you, please contact the church at
We anticipate that our next round of training will begin in August, 2016.