Season of Renewal
I am honored to write my first entry as president and CEO of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries during this season of Lent, a special time of year when we pause to remember the life, death and resurrection of our Savior. Our Savior’s resurrection reminds us all to be reborn, to embrace new seasons with hope. And so it is as a new season for CHHSM begins, where together we embark on a journey to shape CHHSM’s future at this crucial moment in time.
While I had the honor to meet some of you at the CHHSM Annual Gathering March 8-10 in Louisville, Ky., I realize that most of you don’t know who I am or why I chose to join CHHSM. So let me share with you a little bit about myself. While I am new to CHHSM I am no stranger to God’s love. I grew up in the church, attending a predominantly black denomination with my family since I was young, and my faith in God has always been an important part of my life. I believe that through this faith, I was led to a career serving others, most recently working in Cleveland’s community development field as executive director of the Greater Collinwood Development Corporation. It has been a joy to help improve the community I have called home all my life, working with the people and institutions that helped shape me into the man I am today. However, as much as this work has filled me with joy, something was always missing, and that something was a direct connection to my faith. CHHSM offers the chance for me to renew my passion for community work through a lens of faith and inclusion, and I am honored to have this opportunity.
This season also represents a time of renewal for CHHSM. As retiring president and CEO Michael Readinger said in his very first Letter from the President, “Transition periods are often unsettling, unplanned and unnamed. The unknown is before us and the future is uncertain.” How true that statement is today as the world continues to struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic — a global crisis that has shaken the status quo and blatantly exposed the disparities in our society. When I hear people yearn for a return to “normal” and “the way things were,” I am forced to wonder what was normal about how things were? What is normal about systemic racism that continues to fuel growing inequities in wealth, health, education, and most any other metric you can think of? And what does this mean for CHHSM and our member organizations as we strive to serve a world that is hurting? As I start this tenure as president and CEO, I vow to work with all our members and partners to shape a living vision for CHHSM that responds to the urgency of this moment, and to support our membership as we endeavor — together — to minister in more encompassing and inclusive ways.
So, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior during this season of Lent, let’s also take time to reflect on the ways we each are called to be renewed — in our lives and in our relationships with each other — using this unprecedented moment in history to push for a fair, equitable, and just society that more purely reflects God’s love. I believe this is our charge, and I am humbled to take the helm of CHHSM and work with our members to meet the needs of the various communities we serve.
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