Johnson-Javois, Wilson to Highlight Opening Events at CHHSM Annual Gathering

The Rev. Bethany Johnson-Javois and the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson will help kick off CHHSM’s 86th Annual Gathering.

Inspiration will be the operative word during the opening events of the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries Annual Gathering, to be held March 12-14, 2024, at the Live by Loews Hotel in St. Louis.

On Tuesday morning, March 12, the Rev. Bethany Johnson-Javois, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis, will preach during opening worship, to be held at St. Peter’s UCC in Ferguson, Mo. The following morning, the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, will deliver the opening keynote address.

The theme of the 86th Annual Gathering is “Collaboration as the Gateway to Innovation.” The focus scripture is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps” (The Message). Using these jumping off points, the Annual Gathering will explore how working together can spark innovation that changes lives. Registration opens Dec. 15.

“The Annual Gathering Task Force and CHHSM staff are working hard to plan an Annual Gathering that not only focuses on the themes of collaboration and innovation as concepts, but which embodies collaboration and is infused by innovation as well,” said the Rev. George Graham, CHHSM vice president.

The planning team chose St. Louis as the site for the Annual Gathering because it offers a unique place to fulfill that vision. St. Louis includes the highest concentration of CHHSM member organizations as well as a UCC seminary, all of whom partner with each other to further their work in the larger community.

“The number and diversity of CHHSM agencies in St. Louis offers the chance to truly highlight collaboration as the gateway to innovation,” added Jamar Doyle, president and CEO of CHHSM.

Featured Events

UCC-related Eden Theological Seminary’s chapel is the site for the service consecrating the newest Nollau graduates as Diakonal Ministers.

Following the Tuesday morning worship service, Annual Gathering attendees will attend a special panel discussion to reflect what has happened in Ferguson over the past 10 years since the murder of Michael Brown.

On Wednesday evening, March 13, a special Consecration Service for the graduating class of the 2023-2024 Nollau Leadership Institute will take place at nearby Eden Theological Seminary’s chapel, followed by dinner. The service consecrates class members as Diakonal Ministers, and is the culmination of the year-long program.

The Nollau participants’ final cornerstone projects also will be on display throughout the Annual Gathering, and the class will be available for conversations and questions.

After the closing worship service on Thursday morning, March 14, Annual Gathering participants will visit The Core Collective. The Core Collective is a model of collaboration and innovation in St. Louis, partnering with CHHSM members Deaconess Nurse Ministry, iFM Community Medicine, and Every Child’s Hope, among other community-based organizations. The Core Collective is invested in the transformational power of youth, and is on a mission to make well-being the standard for St. Louis. It improves healthcare for families, advances socioeconomic equity, and activates conscious leaders.

Other Keynote Highlights

The Annual Gathering takes place at the Live by Loews Hotel in St. Louis.

Wednesday afternoon’s session will be given over to a keynote from platinum sponsor Ziegler’s Dan Hermann, president and CEO, on the state of older adult care. The short keynote will be followed by panel discussion featuring CHHSM member ministries discussing the ways they have collaborated with organizations to benefit their communities.

A long-time sponsor of the Annual Gathering and a CHHSM partner, Ziegler is a privately held investment bank specializing in the healthcare, senior living and education sectors, as well as general municipal and structured finance, which enables the firm to generate a positive impact on the communities it serves.

The final keynote, on Thursday morning, March 14, will concentrate on technology and how it can be used for collaboration and innovation. Affinity Group gatherings, informative and engaging workshops, immersive experiences, and time for reconnecting will round out the agenda on all three days.

CHHSM’s 86th Annual Gathering will ignite fresh ideas and new partnerships for ministry, and provide the opportunity to witness firsthand how CHHSM agencies in St. Louis and beyond are pioneering new realms of innovation through dynamic collaborations.

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