Together, members of the United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries work hard to create a just, caring, and compassionate world. To that end, CHHSM’s 82nd Annual Gathering — which takes place March 3-5, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. — will focus on justice, and ways CHHSM ministries in health and human services can “hold justice and grace — together.”
This year’s gathering takes place at the Guest House at Graceland, and is built around the biblical theme from Amos 5:24, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Early bird registration opens Dec. 16.
In addition to the three-day gathering, special time has been set aside March 2 for a day of reflection and discussion that includes an afternoon visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. The museum, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, includes interactive, multimedia exhibits and is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum. The Annual Gathering’s biblical theme was a favorite of King.
“The visit and subsequent discussions will provide an inspiring and reflective beginning to the three-day CHHSM Annual Gathering, and all CHHSM members are encouraged to arrive early for this opportunity,” says Michael J. Readinger, president and CEO of CHHSM. “What better way to begin our three days of workshops and meetings on creating opportunities of justice and grace than through our time at the museum?”
Following the day at the museum, the Annual Gathering kicks off March 3 with CHHSM Affinity Group meetings and a service project option in the morning, and opening worship in the afternoon. For those not part of the Child and Family Services and Affordable Housing Affinity Groups, the service project will include landscaping and delivering needed items to — and having lunch with residents at — Shelby Station and Woodhollow Glen, two United Church Homes’ affordable housing communities in Memphis.
Opening worship will be held at First Congregational UCC with the Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel, conference minister of the UCC’s regional Missouri Mid-South Conference, preaching. A welcome reception and dinner at the Guest House at Graceland will follow.
March 4 and 5 will include workshops on a variety of topics, with something for everyone attending. A highlight of March 4 is a special panel discussion during the opening plenary. Led by the Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister of the UCC’s Justice and Local Church Ministries, it features four former UCC executives who are renowned social justice advocates as panelists: the Rev. Yvonne Delk, the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, the Rev. Loey Powell, and the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo.
“The panel discussion will delve into the history of these five amazing women and their impact on the social justice life of the United Church of Christ,” says Readinger. “CHHSM is proud to hold this important panel discussion for our members, and we look forward to learning much that can be used in our day-to-day ministries.”
March 4’s agenda also includes an afternoon plenary presentation by platinum sponsor and CHHSM partner Ziegler, a privately held investment bank, capital markets and proprietary investments firm specializing in healthcare, older adult and education organizations. Representatives from Ziegler will discuss good governance practices related to diversity and inclusion. The presentation will be geared especially to board members and executive leaders of organizations.
Another March 4 item is CHHSM’s Annual Business Meeting and Luncheon, which will include reports on the work of the CHHSM Board and an update from Readinger. The meeting will celebrate and welcome the two newest CHHSM members: Doorways in St. Louis, an interfaith non-profit organization that provides housing and related supportive services to improve quality of life and health outcomes for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS; and Generations Care Partners Foundation in Chicago, which works with congregations to help them become effective change agents in their communities.
Featured throughout the Annual Gathering will be an exhibit of CHHSM’s current Nollau Leadership Institute class’ capstone projects. The projects explore ways class members can apply what they’ve learned in concrete ways in their work with their CHHSM member employers.
The March 5 plenary session includes a presentation by G. Scott Morris, M.D., CEO of Church Health, a faith-based, nonprofit organization in Memphis that provides comprehensive health care and services to individuals with little or no access to health care. Following a luncheon and closing session on CHHSM’s Vision 2030, the Annual Gathering will end with worship. The service features the UCC’s Blackmon preaching, and will celebrate the Nollau Leadership Institute graduates as they are consecrated as Diakonal Ministers.
“A highlight of the Annual Gathering is always the consecration of the Diakonal Ministers, who’ve spent a year discerning their call to serving leadership,” says Readinger. “We are pleased to partner with them as they discover new ways of serving in ministry.”
Discounted early bird registration for the Annual Gathering begins Dec. 16 and runs through Jan. 17. Learn more and register.