Continuing testament, extravagant welcome and changing lives. These core beliefs of the United Church of Christ, lifted up at CHHSM’s recent annual meeting, inspire the passion of this Diakonic Movement. The Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of CHHSM ministry United Church Homes of Marion, Ohio, reflects on how his organization lives out its faith heritage.
What happens when people respond to a need? Lives are changed for the better.
That’s what occurred nearly a century ago with the advent of United Church Homes. At the time, Ohio seniors who couldn’t live on their own or with family members had few options. The homes that did exist tended to be empty in terms of any real spiritual, physical or intellectual growth.
A group of people responded to this void with passion. They asked themselves: What if we could create a place of inclusion and affirmation where growth is encouraged every day? What if we believed that God is still speaking and cares about each person?
The family of Matthew and Jane Smith donated 168 acres of land in 1916 to establish a church-sponsored home that would be a “Fair Haven” for all who lived there, and United Church Homes was born.
Across nearly 100 years, our mission hasn’t changed. We believe in radical hospitality; we believe in the continuing testimony of God and God’s people; and we believe in providing the means for people to encounter God’s spirit and be transformed.
Our values, rooted in our UCC heritage, are shaping our course in new and exciting ways.
Our communities have long been open to all. We have never turned away anyone on the basis of race, faith, gender or age. Though primarily for older adults, our campuses offer special programs that serve residents under age 65 who have chronic illnesses and developmental challenges. Our board recently added language to our admissions policies that specifically calls for targeted outreach to LGBT seniors, who are often subjected to discrimination in senior living communities.
And because we believe that God is still speaking, our communities embrace education and technology as tools to aid us in our person-centered philosophy. Those who face disabling illnesses and the challenges of age will find new ways to communicate, learn, and grow. At United Church Homes, we foster an environment of meaning and purpose for both residents and team members — celebrating the spirit of every individual.
Inclusiveness, integrity and respect: these values shaped our history, and they guide our path ahead. From one home came a vibrant network of 67 communities serving more than 4,000 individuals. But we’re not done yet. The future holds much promise for all of us.