Resources for Health and Human Service Sunday 2024 offer support and healing for essential workers
The United Church of Christ Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) recently released resources for Health and Human Service Sunday, which takes place Jan. 28, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.
The resources provide a means for UCC churches, CHHSM members and friends to bring the message of serving leadership and support for health and human service workers to their local congregations.
Included in this year’s resources are liturgical elements and prayers that emphasize how the UCC has embodied extravagant welcome through health and human service ministries. Woven throughout the liturgical elements and prayers is the theme of hope and healing to create a just, caring, compassionate and equitable world.
“Each year, I like to add a unique liturgical element to the Health and Human Service Sunday worship service,” said the Rev. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development and creator of the resource materials. “But this year when I sat down to write, no words came. I envisioned incredible people doing incredible things — but what also came up were budget cuts, staff shortages, an end to COVID relief funds, grant proposals that act like life is back to pre-COVID days, images of hospital workers being bombed in Gaza, disaster relief staff in danger across the globe and people’s health care rights being stripped from them state by state. So, what is the most loving liturgy I could write in such a time as this?”
Healing power of sound
Berry remembered something the Rev. Jamesetta Ferguson — president and CEO of MOLO Village in Louisville, Kentucky, and a CHHSM board member — said: “Use what you got.”
Taking those words to heart, Berry decided that this year’s special liturgical element would be a short sound healing meditation video.
“It’s always been helpful to me to use sound healing instruments for my meditations at home, like a shruti box, crystal singing bowls and a drum,” Berry said. “These instruments produce vibrations that can create a calming and regulating effect. As science shows, vibrations are both the sound and the connecting force of the whole universe. Perhaps this is what Paul calls the Spirit’s ‘groaning too deep for words.’”
The meditation is a 10-minute sound healing video suitable for use in worship or other church or home settings. Berry created the video with accessibility in mind.
“On the video, I included somatic practices like humming, deep breathing and feeling your heartbeat with your hand on your chest, along with visual cues for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or for whom a sound meditation might be challenging,” she said.
Recognizing hundreds of providers
In addition to the sound meditation, the Health and Human Service Sunday resources include all the typical liturgical elements of a worship service. The materials also provide worshippers with a glimpse of the work and founding of CHHSM. The prayer before the offering, for example, gives a brief snapshot of one of the hundreds of UCC CHHSM agencies across the country. Included with the materials is a series of graphics that churches and organizations can use online and in their print publications.
The 2024 Health and Human Service Sunday recognizes the many health care centers, hospitals, affordable housing communities, older adult communities, transitional housing agencies, agencies for people with disabilities and service centers for children, youth, and families across the United States affiliated with the UCC through CHHSM.
“Health and Human Service Sunday is an opportunity for the whole United Church of Christ to bear witness to the UCC’s extravagant welcome through service,” said Jamar Doyle, CHHSM president and CEO. “The many schools, hospitals and orphanages founded by various UCC predecessors today carry on in new ways, thanks to our more than 400 CHHSM member organizations — many on the front lines, struggling to bring God’s message of hope and love to their communities. We celebrate and thank them all, and pledge our continued support of their ministries.”
Learn more and download the CHHSM Health and Human Service Sunday resources here.
Barb Powell is the communication consultant for CHHSM.
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