Michael J. Readinger

The lack of affordable housing (2013), gun violence as a health issue (2017), the opioid crisis (2019). All of these are critical issues that the CHHSM Board, membership and staff have addressed via the UCC General Synod resolution process. Well, it is time to put the pedal to the metal, to walk the talk, and to put our money where our mouth is! And that is why we are pleased to announce the addition of the Rev. Elyse Berry, D.Min., to the CHHSM staff team as our new Associate for Advocacy and Leadership Development (please read Elyse’s column to the right). While a major part of Elyse’s work will be in leadership development, it is her role in the advocacy initiative that will move us from the resolution writing phase to the resolve and call to action phase!

After a national search with more than 100 applications received, Elyse was a clear (but not easy) and unanimous choice to fill this position. We were extremely blessed that there were so many wonderful candidates who brought their unique skills and incredible ideas forward as they sought to join the CHHSM team. All of us involved in the process of interviewing and assessing the candidates are grateful for their knowledge, passion, commitment, faith and spirituality. Elyse emerged as the choice because of her education and chaplaincy experience, because of her deep faith and commitment to healing ministry, because of her work in bioethics, and because she really understands the “why” that is central to our mission, vision and values.

Elyse’s work will be extremely challenging as she focuses on our advocacy and leadership initiatives that advance our vision of creating a just, caring and compassionate world for all. Her contributions towards accomplishing our strategic plan and realizing our value proposition will be critical to our success and sustainability. Her energy and charisma will draw our volunteers, partners and constituents into the work flow and compel them to be participants in the work plans she will create. I hope that all of you will reach out to Elyse — to welcome her, to join her in our shared ministry, and to challenge her to be the best that she can be to serve our clients, residents and patients.

In her work on the leadership development front, Elyse will join the current faculty in an observational role at first. But we will quickly ask her to assess the curriculum, bibliography, schedule and teaching format as we prepare for the class of 2020-2021 next spring. It is in the area of advocacy where we will see an immediate and dramatic impact from Elyse. She will mobilize our volunteers and partners, she will motivate our members and other constituents, and she will create a pro-active and intentional program of advocacy that will allow CHHSM to “Be A Voice” for all we serve. Yes, now is the time for CHHSM to move from the resolution phase to the resolve and call to action phase! Welcome, Elyse!