Written by Daniel Hazard
The Council for Health and Human Service Ministries celebrated 75 years of heritage and successes at the United Church of Christ's General Synod 2013 gathering in California. While reflecting on the history of the ministry with friends and colleagues, CHHSM stands ready to delve into 75 more years of work in the future.
"There are always new frontiers to explore," said CHHSM President the Rev. Bryan Sickbert. "The name and structure has changed several times over the years. However, UCC health and human service institutions have consistently claimed their faith heritage as one that must be nurtured in community because it values the Christian faith which provides the sustaining power of our ministries."
The work of CHHSM, an affiliate of the UCC whose ministry is around healing and service, ranges from small care centers to hospital networks. Combined, the organization serves more than one million people with total assets of $3.9 billion.
"It is more than evident through the faithful work of the United Church of Christ health and human service ministries that we never have evaded this ministry," Sickbert said.
CHHSM was recognized during the Saturday morning plenary on June 29 in Long Beach with a formal commendation of its work, along with a video presentation. The ministry also has sponsored a resolution, asking all settings of the church to call on Congress for more quality affordable housing funding, which has seen a sharp decline in recent years and no funding in 2012. CHHSM also has an exhibit space for Synod visitors to learn more about its work.
CHHSM also began a five-year campaign to support a fund to expand its mission of leadership formation. The goal was to raise $300,000, and that goal was been rapidly met in the first six months.
Earlier this spring, CHHSM gathered in Chicago in late March for its 75th anniversary celebration. Among the highlights of the event were an anniversary festival worship and dinner, and a luncheon of CHHSM's retired executives (Legacy Leaders) whose commitment, tenacity and service nurtured the ministry for decades. A delegation from CHHSM's mother organizations in Germany, the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland and the Evangelical Church of Westphalia, were also part of the gathering. They lead a plenary session about their ministries and the challenges they face.
"The 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting was truly a remarkable event," Sickbert said. "The future of our mission to sustain and advance the healing and service ministry of Jesus Christ is bright."