United Methodists do not have a ritual called "last rites." However, ministry with those who are ill and dying and with the families of those who have just died is an important part of the work of United Methodist pastors. In times of illness, death, and grief, pastors offer the hope and peace found in Jesus Christ.
Some Christian denominations offer a set of prayers and the celebration of communion with a dying person near the time of their death. While not considered essential to a person’s salvation, this can be a source of comfort to the dying and those caring for them.
When death is near, the pastor prays for the dying person and commends them to God's care. Pastors are encouraged to provide communion for those who wish to receive the sacrament near the time of their death.
At the time of death, the pastor prays with the gathered family and friends. The prayers acknowledge feelings of loss and grief, request God's strength in these difficult days, and proclaim our hope in resurrection and life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On his deathbed, John Wesley's last words are said to have been, "The best of all is, God is with us." In ministry with those who are dying, United Methodists continue to share that good news. In our life and in our death, the best of all is, God is with us.
This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.