Health and Human Service Sunday Is Jan. 31

What is Health and Human Service Sunday?

Each year, the United Church of Christ designates one Sunday – usually the last Sunday in January – as a day to recognize the ministries in health and human services provided by the members of CHHSM as well as those supported by local churches.

The Sunday is an opportunity for congregations to lift up our common ministry of healing and service to others in Christ’s name.  Some local congregations might choose to observe Health and Human Service Sunday on a different date, especially on the anniversary of the founding of a ministry with which they are engaged, but the importance of lifting up these special ministries which call forth the best in UCC members is not lost whenever the observance is held. Feel free to use any of the resources offered here, or create others appropriate to your experience.

Resources from previous years can be found here.

Special Celebrations for 2016

A million people are served annually by CHHSM’s 75 members.  A million!  We celebrate the 375 plus agencies represented here every day, and this year we lift up the 100th anniversary of United Church Homes (UCH). Here’s a little about the organization from the Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, director of outreach and mission integration for UCH:

In 1916 members of congregations in Toledo had a vision – that the church should provide abundant life in a community setting for those who were aging.  In 2016 United Church Homes celebrates a century of building that vision. With nine senior living campuses in Ohio and 57 affordable housing communities in 13 states and 2 Native American reservations, we transform the experience of aging for over 4,000 residents who call UCH home. On July 22-23, 2016, we will gather in Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate this rich faithful heritage of our first century, while also looking forward to the future with the churches, families, residents and staff who are a part of this living legacy of congregations putting mission in action.

United Church Homes demonstrates what happens when a bold vision to meet a need is met by inspired leaders who have shared values rooted in their faith.  Congratulations, UCH, on your anniversary!


Lectionary Texts

Jeremiah 1:4-10 – “Do not be afraid of them…”

Psalm 71:1-6 – “For you, O Lord, are my hope…”

I Corinthians 13:1-13 – “…and the greatest of these is love.”

Luke 4:21-30 – “…and they were amazed at the gracious words that came from him.”

Prayer of Invocation

Loving God, thank you for calling us into this place of community and caring this morning. We come with gratitude for all the ways in which the United Church of Christ meets human needs.  Bring grace to us, knowing that we need strength to meet our own hurts, our own fears, our own illnesses whether visible or unseen.  Bring resolve to us, so that together we might serve with compassion the needs of those around us who often are alone, hurting in body, mind or spirit. Call us into service in the name of Jesus the Christ, so that through us your shining love illuminates the path of peace and wholeness in the world.  Amen.

Litany of Appreciation

One: God of our lives, Christ among us, you call us to love one another as you love us.

All: And so we give thanks for the many women and men who responded with love and action to the needs of their sisters and brothers.

One: For those who provided shelter to homeless women and children more than a hundred years ago –

All:  We give thanks.

One: For those who built hospitals to serve people who have been pushed to the margins –

All: We give thanks.

One: For those who created safe learning environments for children often forgotten –

All: We give thanks.

One: For the bold vision of the United Church of Christ to realize “that we may all be one” –

All: We give thanks!

One: We join our hearts in celebration and gratitude for the many healing ministries of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries and those our members and congregations have created and sustained –

All: For these are the ways in which we know and share the love of God.

Unison Prayer

Loving God, we pray that all of your children might be safe from harm and go to sleep with bellies satisfied and minds at ease.  We pray that every senior might be cared for with compassion, receiving the attention they need to thrive in mind and body.  We pray that every youth might be inspired to follow their dreams and offer this world the beauty of their gifts.  But we know this is not always the case and that many of our neighbors are left out in the cold, hungry for food and hungry for love.  So keep us fired up, O God, filled with passion for ministries that address human needs and that move us to address the wrongs that cause suffering and injustice.  Let us be disturbed by Christ’s love so much that we cannot turn away from the cries for help we hear but instead feel renewed to serve.  Holy One, bless the many ministries of healing and human service which are vibrant signs of your love made real, and bless the hands and hearts of those who provide meals, and shelter, and guidance in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Prayer of Invitation for the Offering

O Extravagant, Generous God, our gifts reflect your love for all of humanity, and your love for us. We offer them freely, with thanksgiving, for your ever-present Spirit though which all things are made new.

Prayer of Dedication

In all our living, we belong to you.  In all our giving, we rejoice in you.  God of each, God of all, bless our gifts as signs of our passion for living and loving through Christ. And bless the ministries of healing and human service inspired by the United Church of Christ and all of our neighbors served by them. With joy we say, Amen!

Going Forth

Let us go forth now boldly, inspired and encouraged to serve our God with passion and joy.

Let us go forth with hope that all whom we serve will receive the fullness of life.

Let us go forth knowing that we are not alone in our need.

Let us go forth in the peace given to us by the One who created us in love.


Suggested Hymns (from the New Century Hymnal unless otherwise noted)

Breathe on Me, Breath of God                                      #292

Called as Partners in Christ’s Service                          #495

Come Teach Us, Spirit of Our God                         #287

Community of Christ                                                 #314

Help Us Accept Each Other                                      #388

In Christ There is No East or West                          #499

Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love                          #498

God of Change and Glory                                     #177

God and Grace and God of Glory                         #436

O Holy Dove of God Descending                          #285

Siyahamba / We are Dancing                                      #526

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart                        #290

Spirit of the Living God                                                #283

Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness                                    #286

Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You                         #562

Who is My Brother?                                                #486            Chalice Hymnal

Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant?                          #539

A Personal Testimony – By the Rev. Loey Powell

I am one of those getting-rarer-every-day people in the United Church of Christ who was born into and raised in the UCC.  Last year I completed more than 18 years of service in the national setting of the UCC, during which time I became very familiar with the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries.  At least, I thought so!  I participated in the Nollau Institute faith-based leadership development program, was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister, and met many leaders of CHHSM ministries.  Add to that, for the past 35 years I have been traveling to Claremont, California, to visit my parents at Pilgrim Place, a CHHSM member retirement community which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015.

I know CHHSM, right? Hardly. But the last five months of working with CHHSM on a part-time basis as the executive associate to the president/CEO, Michael Readinger, and having the opportunity to learn in depth who CHHSM and its members are has opened up a whole new appreciation for what has to be the best kept secret in the UCC.  The quality of care and service our members bring is truly remarkable, from early childhood education centers to transitional housing and support for battered women, from full acute-care hospitals ranked among the best in the country to the many retirement and affordable housing communities all across the country, from services for youth at risk to home health care services, CHHSM member organizations offer extraordinary care models and cutting-edge services. The staff in our agencies love working and serving their clients. The presidents and CEO’s of our members excel in providing quality care, inspiring their boards and staffs to succeed, and are passionately committed to the mission they serve.

When my mother died last June, the love and care that surrounded her and our family made this difficult time bearable. I experienced there what the best of CHHSM has to offer – sustaining communities that genuinely care about each other and a staff that seeks to personalize services for the individual. I will be forever grateful that her passing was as grace-filled as it was.  I have visited other CHHSM members, too, where the level of care and professionalism is geared towards their residents and clients.  It’s hard to find environments that match this kind of service.

So whenever you can, encourage people to look into CHHSM member organizations.  The 75 members of CHHSM and the more than 365 agencies they oversee meet the needs of a million people annually.  That’s huge! That’s reason to celebrate! I hope you will.

Liturgical resources prepared by Rev. Loey Powell.  May be used and/or adapted to suit your context.

Click here to download these resources as a PDF.

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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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