That We May All Be One

By Loey Powell

Since last July, I have had the honor and privilege of dipping my toe into the sacred waters known as the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries as a part-time staff person. I say “dipping my toe” because one of my realizations is just how deep and wide the waters flow among the our members’ communities. It would take years to be fully immersed in all that is happening, to come to know the incredible leaders within CHHSM organizations, and to be transformed by the healing, hope and health-filled futures being created for people of all ages through these ministries. For this, I am grateful beyond words.

As Easter Sunday’s “Alleluias” continue to ring in my ears, I remain mindful of the resurrection truths and their parallels with CHHSM’s value propositions. The lectionary texts for this year’s Easter celebration were drawn from the Gospel of John, the one where Jesus is constantly saying, “Truly I say unto you.” But much of what he has to say in the weeks and days leading up to his crucifixion focuses on unifying his followers. This is my new commandment for you: Love one another. As surely as you love each other, you love me as well as the One who sent me. Jesus repeats this several times in different ways to drill it into their hearts.

And in John 17:21, we hear the words which became the motto for the United Church of Christ: “…that they may all be one.” He elaborates by saying that because he and God are united, are one, then when they — his followers, his disciples — are one, the rest of the world will know that it was God who sent Jesus. By their faithful, honest unity – unity of spirit, of soul, of purpose, of belief – the rest of the world will witness the power of God revealed through Christ.

You and I both know how difficult it is to maintain that unity. It’s often not very practical. It’s often way too hard. It’s often inconvenient because we can be so convinced of our own perspective that we cannot hear or receive differing ones. For all the many years I’ve dedicated my ministry within and through the UCC, I can recall holy moments when that sense of unity truly was among us. But more often, I recall times when it was there as an ideal to strive for and a thousand different proposals for how to get there were on the floor for debate.

But here we have language to hold up for CHHSM as a membership association with common roots in faith-based ministry:

Binding us together through shared values.
Sharing our voices with the wider church.
Bringing us together to accomplish mission and organizational goals.

In other words, to be one. To be united around the bold vision that inspired and continues to inspire each ministry founded by members of the United Church of Christ — each housing development, clinic, team of home health care practitioners, teacher and chaplain. To be united around leaders who are inspired and inspiring as well as those who aspire to the highest standards of practice. To be united by the underlying values shared by all, that each and every child of God is worthy of love and dignity.

This is resurrectional for me. One need not be Christian to know that new life, a second chance, or a renewed spirit is happening. This is what makes the waters of CHHSM sacred. You will experience that oneness from time to time, and I hope that you will continue to reach for it and be inspired by it in the moments when it feels far off. While my toe just got wet, you have been swimming in it. And now it’s time to pour those waters over the Rev. Ben Guess as he comes to know you more fully in the months to come.

The Rev. Loey Powell, who retired at the end of March, served as executive associate to CHHSM President and CEO Michael J. Readinger.

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