David Waltemeyer

By David Waltemeyer, Chair, CHHSM Board

It says in James 1 to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Conversely, when questioned by the religious leaders of his day, Jesus himself replied that the two greatest commandments, if followed, would fulfill all the commandments: we are to love God and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, we are to be the hands and feet of Christ in serving others. For love is not just a warm feeling; love is an action. That is at the very heart of the work of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) and its member organizations as we endeavor together to create a just, caring, and compassionate world. Oh: and please let me emphasize “together.” For it is together as CHHSM members, as members of our individual organizations, and as members of our churches and communities that we are going to be the most effective.

It should be readily apparent then that we are not called upon to simply be pew-sitters; nor are we called solely to pontificate endlessly on the need to love one another. We have been appointed to actually make it happen — to put our love and faith into action. For as James goes on to say in chapter 1, “… pure religion and undefiled before God is this, to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress.” James further emphasizes this in chapter 2 by asking how we should treat someone we see who has no food or clothing. Do we greet them with a “have a nice day” or “stay warm and eat well” or do we actually provide food and clothing for them? Obviously, we are called upon to make provision.

We, as organizations, can often get caught up in planning and never get around to the actual doing. Certainly, planning is a necessary function, but it must result in implementation and action — just as being inspired by a good sermon or coming face-to-face with those in need must result in more than just sentimental thoughts and loving words. Some time back, CHHSM embarked on a strategic planning process in order to improve itself as an organization and allow it to better serve its members as they serve their communities. Although significant progress has been made in the planning part of the process and some action has already been taken, there is much more to be done in the “doing” portion. That is where all of you as members enter into the picture. We can’t do it without your participation and partnership. This is the “together” aspect I highlighted earlier.

At our recent Annual Gathering in Chicago, we worked with those in attendance to get feedback on the plan and to get their commitment to being involved in bringing the plan into reality. We received great input and enthusiastic commitments to get the work done. At our recently concluded board of directors meeting, additional generative work was done on putting implementation steps into place for the next six to nine months. Members of the board were appointed to reach out to those who signed up to participate. You should expect to hear from them soon as work groups are formed. The groups will center around Advocacy, Membership Involvement and Engagement, Leadership Training and Program Expansion, and Affinity Groups, as well as work on Annual Gathering planning and General Synod involvement. On behalf of the board of directors and the mighty staff members of CHHSM, I thank you for your enthusiasm, interest, and commitment. Together we will move forward with care and love as we love God by loving our neighbors.

David Waltemeyer is the current CHHSM Board chair and a member of the Board of Peppermint Ridge in Corona, Calif.

Read CHHSM President and CEO Michael J. Readinger’s column.