In today’s changing landscape, UCC health and human service ministries often find that their work is complicated, regardless of the size of the organization or the populations served. As a response, the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries’ Annual Gathering in March will focus on the ways in which such ministries can learn and flourish together.

“Toward Tomorrow — Together We Learn, Together We Flourish” takes place March 5-7, 2019, at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. The three-day gathering will include insightful plenaries, meaningful worship, times of celebration, and useful workshops; and will conclude with the commissioning of the current Nollau Leadership Institute class as servant leaders and Diakonal Ministers.

The event’s biblical theme is Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says God, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” This biblical mandate coincides with CHHSM’s motto, “Together we create a just, caring and compassionate world.”

“The Annual Gathering will have many meaningful moments for each attendee,” says Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM’s president and CEO. “But it also will offer key strategies for working with other community agencies — and other CHHSM ministries — in order to increase CHHSM members’ resources and effectiveness in their local communities.”

Workshops Offer Roadmaps to Success

The Annual Gathering will include a series of workshops on a wide variety of topics, from day-to-day subjects to global perspectives:

  • 11 Ways to Make Your Organization’s Story Shine emphasizes how to tell your organization’s story in ways that resonate with stakeholders and inspire action.
  • Have You Run Out Of Reasons For Why You Aren’t Securing Charitable Gifts That Will Transform Your Organization? Fundraising is a part of ministry. This workshop focuses on how to build a successful fund development process.
  • Faith-Based Organizations: An International Perspective Immigrants, especially from Africa, are joining with Italian and other European members of the Waldensian Church to form vital ministries in Italian cities. Workshop participants will learn about this new organization, Being Church Together (BCT), and will build new perspectives in servant leadership.
  • Partnering with Churches on Creative Use of Space will focus on how to form creative partnerships with local churches to meet community needs. CHHSM member UCAN’s partnerships will be highlighted.

Additional topics will include how to maintain faith-based identity during a merger, creating a culture of philanthropy, and how faith-based nonprofits can build cost-effective technology plans, among others.

Highlights Include Something for Everyone

A highpoint of the Annual gathering will be opening worship March 5. Held at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Chicago, the service will feature a celebration of milestone anniversaries, including St. Paul’s (175 years), UCAN of Chicago (150 years), and Plymouth Place Senior Living in LaGrange Park, Ill. (75 years). The service will feature a sermon by the Rev. John H. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president.

The Annual Gathering also will feature important plenary sessions throughout the three days. Plenary session topics include financial strategies for flourishing into the future; partnering with educational institutions to identify and form leaders; and maintaining faith-based identity and relationships during times of change.

A particular highlight will be the closing worship service, when the current Nollau class members are consecrated as Diakonal Ministers.

“Each Annual Gathering, we celebrate the work of the current Nollau Institute class in a special worship service,” says Readinger. “We share communion and ask the entire community to welcome our new Diakonal Ministers. Current Diakonal Ministers will have an opportunity to gather a day in advance of the Annual Gathering for a reunion retreat.”

The final day of the gathering will include a presentation by the CHHSM Board of Directors of its strategic plan. The presentation will include a charge to attendees, calling on them to discern how they can participate more fully in the strategic plan going into the future. It will ask, “What is important to you as we grow together and flourish?” CHHSM’s annual business meeting also takes place during the gathering.

The three-day event will infuse CHHSM ministries with new energy as participants return home better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities in their local communities, says the Rev. George Graham, CHHSM vice president.

“The Annual Gathering helps to provide connections between member ministries,” Graham says. “It will offer a new, and different, narrative on how our servant leaders can work together and flourish.”