CHHSM Scholar Experience Provides Valuable Insights that Help Discern Seminarians’ Call to Ministry
The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries is searching for its next Rev. Jerry Paul Scholar. The CHHSM Scholar program is open to seminary students who want to learn more about ministry in a faith-based health and human service nonprofit organization.
For Megan Culbertson Hoxhalli, who was a CHHSM Scholar from 2012 to 2015, the experience was lifechanging.
“The CHHSM Scholar program was an incredible opportunity for me,” she says. “It gave me the chance to dig into how my faith, my calling, and my passion for social work are connected. My experience with CHHSM helped me to discern my passion for working with underserved teens, the career I am currently in.”
CHHSM Scholars have opportunities to engage with leaders in CHHSM organizations, including on-site visits. They attend the CHHSM Board of Directors meeting in Cleveland, attend and often participate in the CHHSM Annual Gathering, and have the opportunity to participate in the Nollau Leadership Institute, which provides space for classmates to discern the principles of serving leadership in their lives and work. A CHHSM Scholar’s tenure coincides with their time as a seminarian.
Emily Howard says the program “created space for me to gather information about ministries within the UCC that I did not know about before — health care systems in which I was able to explore my call to work for justice and provide compassionate care. These are values that transformed my direction in life and will be, for me, a permanent part of my discernment into the future.”
As the most recent CHHSM Scholar, Howard says she plans “to follow my passion for justice, compassion and Christ-like care into the next steps of my ministry career. The UCC community of CHHSM has impressed me as a place to grow. I find it to be supportive, nurturing, challenging, and always open to new development. I recommend the program to seminarians who are open-minded about following God’s call into missional ministries and who want to engage community as a learner.”
The next program begins with the 2019-2020 school year. Applicants must submit a cover letter explaining their interest in the program; a current resume; the names and contact information of three references; and a two-page narrative on their ministry journey thus far and hopes for their career. Qualified candidates will meet for an informal interview with Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO, to discuss their goals and hopes for the program.
“The Rev. Jerry Paul Scholar Program is a wonderful opportunity for seminary students to learn about CHHSM member organizations and the important and varied work they do,” says Readinger. “Scholars get valuable assistance in discerning their ministry calls while discovering new career possibilities.”
Jill Terpstra, another past CHHSM Scholar, isn’t with a faith-based healthcare organization, but says her experience as a scholar has been immeasurably helpful in her call as pastor of St. Paul UCC in Elgin, Ill. During the program, she says, “I had the opportunity to interact and learn from so many leaders in the faith-based health and human services field. I was fortunate to meet a group of people who care deeply about their work and about Jesus’ command to love one another.”
“Because of this experience, I felt called to work in a setting where the focus would be broader than a single population of people,” she says. “While I am currently not working in a CHHSM organization, many of the things I learned apply in my church setting. In my role as pastor, I am able to bring attention to the important part CHHSM plays in the UCC and celebrate the work of CHHSM as often as possible. I would recommend this program to anyone who is thinking about how their vocation might intersect with health and human services.”
Culbertson Hoxhalli agrees. “I was so appreciative to have the chance to meet and spend time with people who are living out their faith and their calling throughout the CHHSM network, learning from them and their experiences,” she says. “I would definitely recommend the program to others who are interested in the intersection of faith, social justice, and the human services.”
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