Michael J. Readinger

Michael J. Readinger

I was thinking about Auld Lang Syne, so I read all the lyrics for the first time in my life. While there are a few parts of the song that are more celebratory than nostalgic, I really feel connected to the parts about being present with each other in the past. The song makes me long for the times we will be together today and in the future.

As 2019 comes to life, I am hopeful about all of the ways that CHHSM has intentionally created opportunities to meet in the coming year. Our regional affinity groups, our Annual Gathering, the UCC General Synod, the Nollau Institute and our Nollau to You retreats are all designed to connect old acquaintances and forge new friendships. The best part is that they do this while providing educational content, sharing of best practices and resources, and a healthy amount of spirituality, prayer and faith-based heritage mixed in!

The year opens with some of our regional affinity groups coming together to be in community with each other as they further the work of health and human service ministry in their specific UCC Conference. What happens in Wisconsin and in Missouri/Southern Illinois is a definite treasure trove of our church’s passion for Love of Children, Neighbor, and Creation. Our new vice president, George Graham, will be striving to activate the other regional groups towards at least one meeting in 2019. The power and worth of these meetings is quickly evident, especially when we partner with our Conference Ministers to maximize the impact of the gatherings.

Speaking of gatherings, the 2019 CHHSM Annual Gathering will take place at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago from March 5 to 7, 2019. There will be a pre-conference Diakonal Minister Reunion Retreat on Monday, March 4, from 11 AM through dinner. The focus of that time will be spirituality and Sabbath. There will be affinity groups for Chaplains, Affordable Housing, and Children, Youth & Family Services that meet on Tuesday morning before Opening Worship. Those groups will tackle important issues relevant to their ministries and seek ways to collaborate and share resources. These pre-conference gatherings will be followed by a robust and impactful meeting that the CHHSM Board and staff has planned to inspire and energize you in the months ahead.

The Nollau Leadership Institute Class of 2019 – 2020 will convene in April for our year long exploration of faith-based servant leadership. We will explore the Theology of Leadership, the Product of Leadership and the Practice of Leadership in our three retreats. As always, the class will be consecrated as Diakonal Ministers at the CHHSM Annual Gathering in March of 2020. For those who wish to reach a wider audience or may be unable to carve out the time required for the full institute, consider a one-day Nollau to You session. We will spend a day with you in leadership formation customized to the needs of your ministry setting.

CHHSM board meetings take place in June and November and we are actively seeking volunteers to serve on our Board committees and our Advocacy, Leadership and General Synod planning task forces. Participation on these working groups almost always leads to board service if you are interested.

Probably the most significant event of 2019 is CHHSM’s Presenting Sponsorship of the UCC 32nd General Synod at the end of June. This sponsorship is possible because of the collaborative generosity of 14 member organizations who pooled their resources to fund this leadership role in supporting General Synod, while advancing the health and human service ministry of the UCC. Join us in Milwaukee as we share what we do in the name of Love of Creation, Neighbors, and Children as we come together to create a just, caring and compassionate world.

Needless to say, we have created a wide assortment of ways for you to create your own Auld Lang Syne. Join us to reconnect with those you know and/or to meet some new people whom you can reconnect with in future gatherings.