One Last Time

Michael J. Readinger

As I ruminate on the approach of that day when I leave my role here at CHHSM, I am struck by the reality that almost everything I do in this role may be happening for the final time in my career! The UCC General Synod in July, my gatherings with my peers at the Interfaith Roundtable, two big national association meetings (ASAE in August and LeadingAge in October), our affinity group meetings, the Together We Learn discussion groups, CHHSM Board and committee meetings, meetings of the other boards I serve in my role, the CHHSM Annual Gathering, and other membership events will be a big part of my life for the next seven and a half months — just as they have since I joined CHHSM, first as vice president and then in my role as president for the last 7 years.

I had no idea what the journey would look like when I came to CHHSM on February 8, 2005. As I look back on my life and what will end up being a 17-year career in health and human service ministry, I can see that this time has been transformative for me. I am a much better man, husband, sibling, friend, Christian and leader than I was when I arrived. I have been blessed by the lessons I received; in person and virtual; through classrooms and alone; through listening, watching or reading; and in a wide variety of both secular and lay settings. The main thing all these lessons have in common is that I embraced them all in the spirit they were intended, and they all helped me to maintain my focus on the mission, vision, and values of CHHSM in my work.

So, it is — one last time, maybe even one more time, or maybe the first time ever. Whether these gatherings are in person, virtual or some hybrid form of the two, they will be an important part of the end of my CHHSM president ministry. While there will be many goodbyes, there will also be many first-time meetings and quite a few where we say, “Until we meet again.” While this reflection is looking back at all that has been, I am also conscious of the need to be present in this time, and to pray for discernment about the call to ministry that awaits me in the time ahead. I am certain that every one of the interactions, past and present, will shape my future — and for that I am ever grateful. I am committed to making every time in the next seven-and-a-half months the best possible time that I can, so we can cherish the time we spend together and remember what a great time we had! Even if it is one last time.

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