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Congregational Death/

Community Life

Exploring the struggle and promise
of institutional death. 

Why is it so hard for congregations to die?

Sympara cofounder Daniel Pryfogle and pastor and counselor Rick Mixon take up this critical question as thousands of religious communities go out of business while many more barely hang on, resisting death for reasons other than mission. In a series of live online conversations, Daniel and Rick explore the difficult work of congregational death that is essential for life in community through a rich composting of psychology, theology and personal history. Each session includes a Q&A.

Recent series:

Session One: The Personal and Communal Work of Death

May 4, 2021

How does death shape us? Daniel and Rick talk about early experiences of death in family and congregation. Watch the recording here.


Session Two: The Peril and Promise of Death

May 11, 2021

Why do we deny death? Daniel and Rick consider psychological, cultural and theological responses to death. Watch the recording here.


Session Three: The Practice of Death

May 18, 2021, 2-3 p.m. EDT

How do we go through death as community? Daniel and Rick reflect on lamentation, liminal space, and discernment of new life. Watch the recording here.

Sympara can tailor the series for your congregation, judicatory, denomination or other institution. Contact Daniel Pryfogle to learn more.

About Daniel and Rick:

Daniel is cofounder and CEO of Sympara. For more than 20 years, Daniel has guided congregations and organizations in discerning the "new thing" the Spirit creates with them. That new life, he says, always requires letting go and embracing death. Daniel's perspective on institutional death is shaped by the prophetic tradition of Judaism and Christianity as well as new science, poetry and the lyric of Genesis (the band): "We've got to get in to get out."


Rick is interim pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa, Calif. He previously led First Baptist Church of Palo Alto through a multiyear discernment process and embrace of death. Rick is visiting professor of pastoral care at Berkeley School of Theology. For more than four decades, he has counseled individuals facing death and preached the good news that death is not the last word.

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