As religious leaders, you have a unique position that holds the potential to change lives. Your attitudes and actions are watched and emulated and you are fundamental to the success of our programs. You can take the necessary steps to increase the awareness and acceptance of organ and tissue donation in the faith-based community.
You might ask yourself “what can one person do?” The answer is that one advocate can provide endless opportunities. You can register to be an organ donor. You can become educated about organ and tissue donation and help to alleviate the fears and misconceptions in your community, congregation or workplace. We have programs enabling organizations, congregations and synagogues to support organ and tissue donation. Your faith-based community can become a partner and make a change for the better.
Our ultimate goal is to form a Clergy Summit Task Force. We envision a dynamic and synergistic group that holds the key to strategic networking throughout the various communities. We hope this group never forgets the importance of giving the second chance of life to those waiting for a transplant and the importance of providing individuals the opportunity to designate themselves as donors. And, we hope you are up to the challenge and will consider our request a privilege.
The Role of Religious Leaders in Donation
You have a role as a Religious Leader.
The religious leader can clarify theological and ethical questions for the family. They can also provide comfort to the family by affirming their decision to donate. The faith leader’s presence can represent the presence of God. This, within itself provides comfort.
You may have a relationship with the family.
The religious leader often knows the family and usually will have earned the family members’ trust. They often look to him or her for guidance in making decisions at this stage, being too frightened or too overwhelmed to stand alone. He or she becomes their advocate. Since the religious leader is often already with the family, he or she can restate and interpret medical information.
You have an ability to create awareness.
The religious leader can address organ and tissue donation in sermons, lectures and pastoral counseling. This information helps prepare families in advance. Religious leaders can be attitudinal change agents. Religious leaders may know the donor’s wishes because of previous discussions on the subject with that person. Sharing that information can lighten the burden of the family’s decision.
You may have a relationship with the medical staff.
By working together, surgeons, primary care physicians, nurses, medical technicians, donation coordinators and religious leaders are a team. By working together the entire team develops a mutual trust and a spirit of cooperation, with all members learning their roles and carrying them out to the best of their abilities.
What Can the Faith-based Community Do?
- Incorporate the subject of organ and tissue donation into worship services.
- Organize a sermon, reading or testimonial by a transplant recipient, donor family or living donor.
- Encourage your community to pray for people awaiting a transplant and those who have given the gift of life. Request a moment of silence during services.
- Ask a member of your faith-based community who has been affected by donation to write a personal story for your bulletin.
- Use religious text with references to the value of life, the renewal of life and the value of continuing life.
- Write an article in your congregational bulletin about the benefits of organ, tissue and cornea donation.
- Distribute CORE bulletin inserts.
- Host a donor drive to encourage individuals to join the Pennsylvania or West Virginia Donor Registry.
- Dedicate special prayer time during service to pray for those waiting for transplants and donor families.
- Provide a personal recipient or donor family article in the church newsletter or on the website.
Suggested Scriptures & Hymns of Hope
The following list of scriptures and hymns is a start in your efforts to locate appropriate hymns from your own religious tradition that bring the message of hope and giving that organ and tissue donation and transplantation provide.
Selected Readings (Hebrew Bible):
Bone transplant: A rib taken from Adam gave life to Eve.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”
“How majestic is your name in all the earth.”
“Images of a healing Lord.”
Psalm of praise and thanksgiving.
“Consider the steadfast love of the Lord”
“I give thanks to the Lord.”
“Praises to the Lord.”
“O lord, I pray, save my life!”
“The Lord is gracious and merciful.”
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.”
“For everything there is a season…”
“Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees.”
“….the eyes of the blind shall be opened.”
“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and nor faint.”
The valley of the dry bones: “These bones shall live.”
“Blessed are the merciful.”
Matthew 7: 12
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you…”
“Caring for a stranger”
“…recovery of sight to the blind.”
“Give and it will be given to you.”
“God so loved the world that He gave…”
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
II Corinthians 9:6-8
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I John 4:11
“Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.”
In eternity we will not need our earthly bodies “Former things will pass away, all things will be made new.”
Hymns of Hope
I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath
Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now
Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Open My Eyes, That I May See
Immortal Love, Forever Full
Hope of the World
O Young and Fearless Prophet
We Give Thee but Thine Own
What Wondrous Love is This
Take My Life and Let it be Consecrated Service
Lord, Whose Love Through Humble
Jesus, United by Thy Grace
Lift Up Our Hearts, O King of Kings
O Son of Man, Thou Modest Knows
The Voice O God is Calling
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
Jesus, Lord, We Look to Thee
O God, Whose Will is Life