Hospices, places of rest and entertainment, began almost 2,000 years ago with hospitality to pilgrims. When Dr. Cicely Saunders, founder of St. Christopher's Hospice in London, in the 1960s expanded and developed the idea of rest at the close of life's journey, the modern hospice movement was born. More recently this hospice movement, with emphasis on offering presence during the dying part of life's journey, began in North America. Mennonites have become involved in community needs. assessments and planning and organizing of local hospice programs (e.g., in Virginia, California, Iowa, and Indiana.)
There are a large number of Mennonites from all walks of life involved as hospice volunteers. They are available to meet the needs of people facing death. Nurses are involved in hospital-based hospice centers, community-based organizations, home health care agencies, and as volunteers. Ministers have become involved also in this team approach to care. There is no registry of Mennonite people involved in hospice ministries. Each is involved primarily on the local level.
Mennonites interviewed about their involvement have ready responses. One said, "It's natural because we've been doing it all along, but are now pushing it out to an organized thing." Another reported not being able to say good-bye to a parent. "Death deserved careful attention since it is as much a part of life as is birth."
Because people focus more on life as they are given guidance in the dying process, involvement in hospice is a tremendous growth experience in communion with God our Maker.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Schumm, Laura. "Hospice Movement." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/H6803ME.html.
APA style: Schumm, Laura. (1989). Hospice Movement. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/H6803ME.html.