Exploring the theme "The Church We Live In: UCC Beliefs and Diakonal Ministry," servant-leaders of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) will gather at the Crowne Plaza St. Louis - Clayton on March 1-4 for the organization’s 74th Annual Meeting.
Registration deadline is Feb. 15.
UCC core beliefs of continuing testament, extravagant welcome and changing lives reflect and inspire the passion of the Diakonic Movement, provoking deep theological reflection on why and how the UCC does its work.
"Our forebears in the faith first established health and human service ministries as a justice response to dire human circumstances," said the Rev. William Johnson, CHHSM vice president. "More than a million people a year – children, youth, adults, the aging, persons with disabilities, those in need of shelter, protection, food or a new start – benefit from the health and human service mission of the UCC. For that we can all be grateful."
Prior to the opening plenary, CHHSM diakonal ministers will speak with members of the Nollau Institute Class of 2012. Class members will learn more about CHHSM, broaden their understanding of diakonal ministry and network with other servant-leaders.
Another planned highlight is a presentation about a new program in the UCC Illinois South Conference. The project is an initiative of CHHSM and Conference personnel leading a yearlong celebration of diakonal ministry, lifting up the eight health and human service ministries located in or formally related to the Conference.
The Rev. Starsky D. Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis, will be guest preacher on "Continuing Testament." Wilson is also pastor of St. John's UCC, host for the event’s opening dinner and worship service March 1. Wilson and Bryan Sickbert, CHHSM president and CEO, will lead a dialogue March 2 on "Continuing Testament in Diakonal Ministry."
The Rev. Felix Carrion, coordinator of the UCC Stillspeaking Ministry, will speak March 2 on extravagant welcome. The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, UCC Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries and a member of the church's five-person Collegium of Officers, will speak March 3. Focusing on "Changing Lives," Guess will invite CHHSM members to reflect on ways servant-leadership in diakonal ministry changes lives and contributes to the common good.
In addition, a governance seminar for trustees and board members of CHHSM member ministries will be held. Titled "Governance of Diakonal Ministry – Grounded in the Church," the seminar will be facilitated by the Rev. Jerry W. Paul, former president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation.
Said Johnson, "When CHHSM observes its 75th anniversary in 2013, we will celebrate servant-leaders who have gone before, as well as those who continue to give diakonal service – passionate response to human need in Christ's name, today."
More information regarding the meeting is available online.