Now What?

Michael J. Readinger

Michael J. Readinger

What, So What, Now What?

A few years ago, I went on a group vacation to Mexico. We stayed in a settled area, but the casa we rented was staffed by locals who spoke absolutely no English. We all spoke a little Spanish (some studied it years ago, others used language course CDs), but only one of us was fluent enough to communicate effectively. He made the trip work both for us and the staff because he spoke the language. His fluency allowed the staff to be effective servant leaders.

Likewise, speaking the language of CHHSM is an important part of our shared ministry and culture as a community of service and faith. We all speak a bit of the language of CHHSM, but how do we become fluent? The best way I can think of is to explore together where the value of CHHSM membership lies for your ministry. I will be asking many of you to participate with the CHHSM board and staff in an exercise to craft a value proposition statement that defines the reasons our members choose to be in covenant with us.

This, our own little Rosetta Stone, will allow us to discover, uncover and learn the value proposition of CHHSM membership. From there, we need to learn to communicate and express ourselves – to our staff, volunteers, clients, the wider church and to each other in order to serve in community.

In the past several months in my new role as president and CEO, I have been meeting with membership, board members, clients and key stakeholders in the wider church to find out what matters, what draws members to belong, and what the CHHSM of the future looks like. This initiative will continue in the weeks and months ahead as we explore the process of a CHHSM transformation based on teaching the language.

The 77th CHHSM Annual Meeting has now ended, but our transformative work has just begun.

What?

What did you take away from the gathering, plenary sessions, sacred conversations and conversation circles that followed?

So What?
How are you going to use the things you learned in tangible ways to transform the culture at your organization?

Now what?
Now is the time to make a statement and infuse Extravagant Welcome, Continuing Testament and Changing Lives deeper into your ministry’s organizational and governance culture. Now is the time to focus on a new way of being the church. Let’s not just do what we do, but let’s start being what our founders created – a manifestation of the core principles of our faith formation that have as their mission, the health and healing ministry Jesus taught us.

Through sacred conversations at the 77th Annual Meeting, we embraced the following core values of the UCC and aligned them with our health and human service ministries:

Continuing Testament: CHHSM and the Church
Extravagant Welcome: Open and Affirming in the CHHSM World
Changing Lives: Tackling Racial Inequality Within our Ministries

This illustrates our dedication to the faith-based heritage we share and our belief that we are not just doing church, we are being church.

As a testament to this commitment of faith, social justice issues and service, the CHHSM board will work to become a UCC Open and Affirming Organization. Membership viewed a draft covenant and responded with a strong voice of affirmation and we hope to vote on a covenant at our June board meeting. We will then call upon you to join in the movement to protect not only those we identify as marginalized today, but to promise to serve those we identify in the future.

Let’s not wait a full year until we gather as a larger community of faith in Houston at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Build on the momentum and energy we feel now. Engage your board and staff, engage each other, and engage the wider church.

Now is the time.

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