Michael J. Readinger

While I have always been a curious person who wonders about almost everything behind the scenes, I find myself with a renewed and redirected sense of curiosity following the 83rd CHHSM Annual Gathering last week. The Annual Gathering may have been offered on a virtual, technology-based platform, but there were so many opportunities for personal connections and interactions. These ranged from meeting someone new to seeing an old friend to in-depth conversations.

The worship leaders, plenary speakers, affinity group conveners and workshop facilitators touched on issues that I care deeply about and provided a new lens for further development of my perspective on those issues. Then, the reflection group conversations and networking space chats really allowed me to explore and explain my developing thoughts while hearing and learning additional viewpoints from others.

Spoiler Alert! Since my renewed curiosity is expanding my viewpoint, opening my eyes to new possibilities, and disrupting previously established norms, I will only share the general themes, issues and perspectives I am currently exploring further. Feel free to call me or email me to have that deeper conversation about anything highlighted here. I expect those discussions will inform my feelings even further.

The Opening Worship service and reflection gave me a new way of looking at faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I will not discard that notion, but I will also embrace the reality of all the ways our CHHSM organizations showcase faith in their health and human service ministries. Kaitlyn Curtice’s opening plenary has motivated me to have a greater appreciation of origin stories and what it means to really see what has transpired historically. I am sure that I will see what is ahead in a new and different way. My eyes are also looking at diversity, equity and inclusion through a renewed perspective framed by equity competent leadership. As CHHSM moves into our continued work on becoming anti-racist, I have a different framework for evaluating all that I am and all that I hope to become. As we can begin to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, I am more aware of all that has been lost, all that remains, and all that we can hope for ahead. I will be more in tune with the world as it is and the world as it should be, as Dietra Wise Baker invited us to do in the closing plenary. There is a real need for us to heed our call for hope as we evolve from those who serve to becoming something more. Those who hope for and seek justice. Those who work together to create a just, caring, and compassionate world.

So, these are many of the things I am curious about today. I expect the list to grow and I am sure I will be exploring these in depth in the months ahead. I am neither a blank canvas, nor a finished masterpiece. I hope I am a work in progress. I hope you will join me with your own personal exploration of your curiosities, and perhaps we can have a conversation to dive deeper together — Together in Hope.

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Finding new staff members for leadership and ordained roles can be a difficult and long process, but CHHSM and the UCC have two free services to assist our organizations in those searches. As most people affiliated with CHHSM agencies know, each month, Diakonie publishes current opportunities that CHHSM members have sent in. But there is an even wider net open to all CHHSM agencies: the UCC Ministry Opportunities Listing. Learn more about both options. #BeAVoiceCHHSM ... See MoreSee Less
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