Michael J. Readinger

If you are wondering about the name of this column, I assure you that it is intentional. Yes, we have been talking about the 3 Great Loves for more than two years now. And, I am happy to say, the United Church of Christ has committed to continuing with this initiative for the next biennium! The fact is, our work has just begun, and this important work should not, must not, cannot end. Ever.

As you read the stories in this issue of Diakonie, please pay attention to the focus on Love of Creation, Love of Children and Love of Neighbor that each of them so clearly illustrates. It is a testament to our health and human service ministries and their commitment to social justice issues, the needs of those they serve, and the core values of the UCC. Whether the connections are direct or implied, there can be no doubt that there is a direct correlation between these exciting programs and services and the 3 Great Loves. Oh, and it is intentional.

There has never been a time in recent memory where it has been ordered by those with direct power, or legislated by others, or deemed acceptable behavior by many to violate and oppose all that 3 Great Loves stands for. Our earth is at risk, our neighbors are being vilified and our children are becoming more marginalized every day. What is the long-term cost of these actions that take away basic support, provide protection for those who need it, and prevent those seeking a better life from access?

Hopefully we will never find out. Prayerfully, I ask CHHSM member ministries to continue your leadership role in creating new ways to answer the 3 Great Loves challenge. I ask you to join with me in calling on the compassion of our political leaders and systems to reverse the trends of cutting programs, slashing budgets and ignoring the basic needs of so many people who need assistance. Finally, I ask the local churches, the national setting of the UCC, our ecumenical and inter-faith peers, and anybody else who may read this — continue to advocate for and serve this Earth, these Children and all our Neighbors. Not just for the next two years, but forever. We should, we must, and we can make 3 Great Loves a priority.

There are so many justice issues facing our society that it can be overwhelming. The 3 Great Loves provide both a starting place and a guide in our work for justice.