The United Church of Christ will observe Health and Human Service Sunday on Jan. 29. The event encourages all settings of the church to recognize worldwide health concerns and the work of health and human service ministries to address those concerns.
“We celebrate Health and Human Service Sunday to raise awareness of the opportunities to serve and to point to inspiring examples of service that are changing lives in our world today,” says the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, executive for health and wholeness advocacy for the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries.
This year’s theme, “Legacies of Compassion and Human Service,” encourages church members to remember that they are all called to engage in diakonal ministry.
The annual Health and Human Service Sunday offers congregations an opportunity to talk about health in a holistic way, address issues of injustice in the health care system, and provide the resources necessary to educate and motivate people to act.
For CHHSM ministries, it is a reminder of mission.
“Each year the observance of Health and Human Service Sunday reminds CHHSM ministries and the wider church that we are inextricably bound together in mission for the common good,” says CHHSM Vice President Bill Johnson.
For many UCC congregations, the day underscores the tremendous work being done by CHHSM ministries and the opportunities they present to churches to serve in health and human service ministries.
The Rev. Laura Lee Kent, senior pastor of First Congregational Church of Ithaca, N.Y., says her congregation is looking forward to celebrating the special day.
“CHHSM is a unique blessing to all of us in the UCC,” says Kent. “In this time of rampant disconnection and isolation, CHHSM is a reminder that the UCC is much more than a group of congregations. In this time of the longing of local churches to be directly engaged in local mission, our CHHSM partners stand ready to offer resources and opportunities to serve.”
Resources for Health and Human Service Sunday are available on the UCC website. Materials include stories of compassion and human service, many of which feature CHHSM member ministries. The site also includes a litany for diakonal ministry and two reflections, one by the Rev. Dr. Fred Trost, theologian and conference minister emeritus of the Wisconsin Conference UCC, and one by the Rev. Alan Johnson, chair of the UCC Mental Health Network.
A number of health care resources are also on the site, including a guide to health care reform, General Synod resolutions and helpful health facts. There are details on health-related legislative issues and congregational health ministries.
Schuenemeyer says he hopes these resources will inspire people to get involved in health care ministry.
“I hope that people will discover new ways to invest their time and resources in activities and agencies that transform the lives of people with the power of love, compassion and care,” Schuenemeyer says. “And I hope the Spirit will work creatively among us so that we may more fully access our capacity to reach out and be of service to others wherever God places us.”