CHHSM Welcomes New UCC General Minister and President

When the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer was ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1988, the relationship between CHHSM ministries and the church was a strong one.

“Every local church knew every CHHSM agency and what they did, why they did it, and why it was important for those local churches to support the ministries,” says Dorhauer, who was elected as the UCC’s new general minister and president June 29, at the 30th General Synod in Cleveland.

Awareness of those ministries by the churches has since declined significantly, but Dorhauer wants to change that.

“We need each other,” he says. And CHHSM members agree.

The Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of CHHSM member United Church Homes, a Marion, Ohio-based senior living organization, says members want to enhance their relationship with the church, and they’re looking to Dorhauer to help make that happen.

“I sense he values the ministries of our benevolent homes and services,” says Daniel. “He brings certainly a sensitivity to justice and a track record of wide involvement across many different types of ministries within the UCC.”

Dorhauer will attend the CHHSM board meeting in November, as well as the 78th CHHSM Annual Meeting. Michael Readinger, CHHSM’s president and CEO, says he looks forward to what’s in store.

“I envision a good, strong working relationship with John, who is extremely committed to the core values of the church — values expressed in our health and human service ministries,” says Readinger.

He also says Dorhauer’s announcement at General Synod to maintain the executive minister position of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries following the Rev. Linda Jaramillo’s retirement in September is a big step in the right direction for CHHSM. Justice and Witness Ministries strives to help others overcome oppression and injustice, work that Readinger says overlaps greatly with CHHSM’s mission.

Dorhauer, who most recently served as the conference minister of the Southwest Conference of the UCC, says he was overwhelmed by support at General Synod.

“I think there was a sense of hope for what’s on the horizon for us,” he says. “It’s a sense of confidence, urgency for what’s ahead.”

Dorhauer sums up this forward-thinking perspective by remembering his worship with UCC youth following the election. He says he could feel his energy dissipating after such a long day, but that all changed when he walked into the room.

“I just came alive,” says Dorhauer. He sensed a transformation as he reassured the youth that it was their turn to play, create, build and show him what the future of the church looks like.

And as the church faces the changes to come, Dorhauer says he sees the possibilities ahead: “The holy spirit envisions a future in which we matter.”

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