The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Vice President of the United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM), is leaving to become the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Guess, a lifelong civil rights and social justice activist, will step down from CHHSM on June 30, beginning his new position with the ACLU of Ohio on July 1.
“It is with a heavy heart that I receive and share this news but, at the same time, this is an amazing opportunity for Ben,” said Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM President and CEO. “I am extremely grateful for all that he has accomplished in his time with us. I am very happy for him, and we will certainly miss his grace and wisdom.”
Prior to joining CHHSM, Guess worked for 17 years in senior leadership positions with the national offices of United Church of Christ, including Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries and, before that, as the UCC’s Director of Publishing, Identity and Communication.
“Leaving the work of the national setting of the UCC is going to be emotionally challenging. The importance of the UCC’s mission remains deeply embedded in who I am, as a person of faith and as a justice advocate,” Guess said. “I certainly view my new role with the ACLU as a continuation of the sacred calling to advance freedom, justice and inclusion for all.”
“My work with CHHSM has been a true gift. The UCC’s diverse network of health and human service ministries is an impressive manifestation of this denomination’s longstanding commitment to justice and compassion,” Guess said. “At the same time, the opportunity to lead the ACLU of Ohio, one of the oldest and strongest ACLU affiliates in the nation, is a tremendous one for me, both professionally and personally. At such a critical time in our nation’s history, when civil liberties are under daily assault, this, to me, is urgent and important work.”
Founded in 1920, the ACLU includes more than 1.6. million members in all 50 states and is one of the nation’s foremost advocates of individual rights. With offices in Columbus and Cleveland, the ACLU of Ohio has more than 75,000 members and supporters statewide. Through education, litigation, and lobbying the ACLU seeks to preserve civil liberties for each new generation.