Many Hands Make Light Work

Michael J. Readinger

Michael J. Readinger

This Haya proverb from Tanzania has been on my mind quite a bit lately. In African culture, “many hands make light work” has a meaning of unity, organization, freedom, collective power, security and development. In our health and human service ministry, I often see similar expressions of this proverb.

For example, I was honored to speak at the groundbreaking for Archway Housing’s 40 West project in Denver at the end of April. In about two years, 60 new apartments will provide safe and affordable housing for veterans, the disabled and older adults. It became clear that many hands make light work as we listened to the story of how this project came to be in the last four years as 11 different entities came together to add their expertise to the planning, pre-construction and financing phases.

Our 2016-17 Nollau Institute class also held its first retreat in Milwaukee in April. This amazing assembly of servant leaders continues to bring its time, energy and talents together to share, learn, lift, plan and collaborate. I am confident that they all grew as a result of their time together and they made our faculty grow as a result of their actions.

And at the CHHSM Annual meeting in March, our plenary speakers Amy Hayman, Bernice Powell Jackson and Malcolm Nimick shared their years of wisdom and experience on a variety of topics around sustainability and stewardship. These sessions reminded us of the need for collaboration in order to be effective servant leaders.

In addition, we are blessed by our many partnerships within the UCC that provide cost savings, financial resources and stewardship opportunities for our members. The Pension Board, United Church Funds, Cornerstone Fund, Church Building and Loan Fund, UCC Insurance Boards and Financial Development Ministry are faithful and faith-filled partners who assist members by providing more money for ministry.

I also experience this collaboration as part of the CHHSM core staff. My last two columns were written by our new vice president, Ben Guess, and our departing executive associate, Loey Powell. It was a blessing to hear their thoughts on Jesus’ healing ministry in this time of transition. Look for additional guest columnists in future issues of Diakonie. Ben, Catherine, Danielle and I are delighted to welcome Amber Gray as our new administrative assistant. This part-time position will allow our small staff to be more creative, generative, responsive and innovative in the months ahead. If we are able to generate additional non-dues revenue in the future, we hope to consider making the position full-time. I firmly disagree with the old saying, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” and we welcome Amber to the CHHSM family.

The CHHSM board recently concluded its meeting here in Cleveland. Members worshipped, conducted fiduciary functions, laughed, supported each other and advanced the healing ministry of the UCC. Even before they came together, they met by phone in their committees to plan for the meeting and free up agenda time for more creative sessions. The commitment, dedication and hard work of CHHSM’s volunteer leadership makes the staff’s work more poignant, relevant and easier.

So it is in the way we come together as a community of faith-based providers. The ways in which we connect and collaborate are a testament to the saying “many hands make light work.” We counsel and support each other, share resources and best practices, commiserate with each other in our worries and celebrate our successes. Most importantly, we always remember to advance and sustain the healing ministry of Jesus in our work each and every day.

Let us continue to do this in order to be good stewards and the collective force of servant leadership that we are called to be.

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CHHSM Board and Staff are grieved to learn of the death of our friend and colleague, Greg Watson, who died in October 2022. Greg was vice president of operations for Embrace Living Communities, based in Oak Brook, Ill.Greg was a graduate of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute, class of 2018-2019, and was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister during our 2019 Annual Gathering in Chicago. In an article about his class in June 2018 — not long after the group’s first retreat — Greg said, “The best part is not only beginning the process of clarifying your calling; but also, understanding and accepting one’s personal strength. Recognition of one’s ‘true' self enables us to serve from a place of wholeness.”Greg also served on the CHHSM Board of Directors, and was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the CHHSM family. Embrace Living stated on its website, “Greg was an outstanding servant leader for 17 years at Embrace Living Communities. He will be greatly missed.”CHHSM sends its prayers and love to Greg’s friends, family, and Embrace Living colleagues. ... See MoreSee Less
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