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Cultural Approaches to Pediatric Palliative Care in Central Massachusetts: Protestant

This subject guide is a collaborative project with the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Palliative Care Team, the Lamar Soutter Library, and Interpreter Services.



  • Numerous Christian groups in the U.S. 
  • Mainline denominations include: Baptist, Christian (also Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ) Episcopalian (also Anglican), Lutheran, Mennonites (also Amish) United Methodist, Presbyterian, reformed, and United Church of Christ.


  • Jesus of Nazareth is son of God
  • Emphasis on Scripture/Holy Bible as word of faith and life.  Groups vary widely in how literally they adhere to Scripture.
  • Traditionally two Sacraments of Baptism and Communion
  • Community worship important


Daily practices

  • Prayer, Scripture reading

Dying and death

  • Organ donation,  autopsy and burial or cremation usually individual decisions
  • Euthanasia beliefs vary from individual decision to religious restrictions
  • Body to be treated with respect

Facilitating practices

  • Ask patient and family what practices they support
  • Provide privacy as needed


  • No restrictions


  • In most denominations, decisions about blood, blood products, vaccines, biopsies, amputations and transplants are individual choice
  • Prayer, anointing, Eucharist or other rituals may be important

Holy days and festivals

  • Traditional Christian holidays and observances


Pregnancy and birth

  • In most denominations, decisions about genetic counseling, birth control, fertility tests, and artificial insemination are individual choice
  • Some denominations may have restrictions
  • Baptism of infants practiced in some denominations; others may desire blessing or dedication rituals

Rituals or ceremonies

  • Prayers for healing and comfort of the sick, commendation of the dying, personal prayer, Sacraments


Spiritual instruments, structure, and symbols

  • Bible
  • Cross
  • Many mainline denominations ordain both men and women while some conservative denominations may have only male leadership

 Reproduced by permission from George Handzo, BCC at 

Dictionary of Patients' Spiritual & Cultural Values for Health Care Professionals was developed by the Pastoral Care Leadership and Practice Group of HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY. (Revision and update of earlier work by the Rev. Susan Wintz, BCC and the Rev. Earl Cooper, BCC)