United Church Homes and Services knows an opportunity to celebrate its faith-based ministries when it sees it. In this case, the opportunity is the UCC’s Health and Human Service Sunday — honoring the work of CHHSM members — which will be recognized Jan. 27 in local churches across the country.
Comprised of 11 communities that serve more than 2,000 older adults in North Carolina and Virginia, United Church Homes and Services is keeping Health and Human Service Sunday visible on its social media venues. In addition, several of the UCHS communities are planning special worship services honoring the UCC’s faith-based health and human service ministries.
At Lake Prince Woods in Suffolk, Va., Chaplain Gary Newsome already has sent service suggestions to area UCC ministers. To honor Health and Human Service Sunday, he plans on teaching from a passage in the book of James that emphasizes helping widows and poor persons.
“Recognizing Health and Human Sunday benefits our communities in many ways,” Newsome says. “It educates and informs regarding the overall mission of UCHS.”
The Sunday also helps focus on the individual communities of UCHS, which “truly become partners and put to practicality our mission statement, which reaches out with compassionate services,” adds Newsome.
Carolina SeniorCare PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) in Lexington, N.C., doesn’t have a Sunday service, but Chaplain Misty Polston-York says she’ll use the Health and Human Service Sunday materials during the Thursday, Jan. 31, chapel service. And at Abernethy Laurels in Newton, N.C., Chaplain Susan Roddey plans on using Health and Human Service resources in her Sunday vespers. In addition to using the UCC liturgy, Roddey’s sermon will focus on care and healing.
“UCC Health and Human Service Sunday gives us an opportunity to shine a spotlight and remind our team members that the work they do each day is ministry, and part of the church,” says Lee Syria, president and CEO of United Church Homes and Services. “This Sunday allows us to honor our faith heritage and roots, as well remember all of the wonderful work that is done by CHHSM agencies across the country.”
Residents of Piedmont Crossing in Thomasville, N.C., have been learning about that heritage for the past two weeks, thanks to overviews provided in the weekly bulletins by Chaplain Robert Symanski. The overviews have prepared worshipers for the Jan. 27 offering, which will be designated for CHHSM. Additionally, Symanski will preach on “the church in action.”
“Health and Human Service Sunday is a faith expression of what past and present members of their churches rallied behind and thought was important,” says Symanski. “The day is an act of solidarity among UCC churches and UCC ministries to claim, ‘We are the church together.’”