CHHSM Resources for Health and Human Service Sunday Lift Up Essential Workers, Mental Health Care

The UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries recently released resources for Health and Human Service Sunday, which takes place Jan. 29, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany. The resources provide a means for CHHSM members and friends to bring the message of serving leadership and support for essential workers to their local churches.

Included in this year’s resources are liturgical elements and prayers, including a special “Meditation for Mental Health,” written by the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. Berry said she created it in response to a report from Mental Health America citing that 21 percent of U.S. adults (some 50 million people) are experiencing mental illness, plus a Surgeon General advisory on youth mental health. Additionally, there is a shortage of mental health care services and culturally competent care, with only one mental health provider for every 350 individuals.

However, Berry said, “in CHHSM we hear about this crisis not as statistics, but through the stories of our member organizations. From those specifically providing mental health care to those who have shared with us the struggles their staff, patients, residents, and families are experiencing, we know that focusing on the importance of mental health is a vital way of living into our values of creating a just, caring, compassionate, and equitable world.”

In addition to the mental health meditation is a “Beatitudes for Essential Workers,” also created by Berry.

“In years past, the scriptural passages for this Sunday didn’t always speak to health and human services, but this year, we got Beatitudes,” said Berry, “so I wanted to write something about that powerful message in a way that speaks directly to those on the front lines. Everything mentioned in that prayer — the understaffing, PPE, grief, mission, inspiration, belovedness — it all comes from the experiences of our CHHSM colleagues and those who work with them.

“My hope is that this prayer commemorates their service and reflects the broad range of how the pandemic has impacted them. As the prayer says, their work is blessed — but, truly, so are they.”

In addition to the liturgical elements, the resources include a health and human service graphic suitable for placing in church bulletins.

The 2023 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 Ministry Sunday resources.

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