What’s to Celebrate?

Michael J. Readinger

Michael J. Readinger

I am conflicted as I write this column. The city of Cleveland is exploding as it celebrates an NBA championship, ending the city’s 52 long years with no pro sports championships.

The area is at a high point as the region celebrates the Cavaliers’ basketball victory, but that’s not all that’s going on. The Lake Erie Monsters have won hockey’s Calder Cup, the Republican National Convention is on the way, and Cleveland’s professional baseball team is having a great season.

Amid the joy, I am reminded that there is so much wrong in the world.

I am a very positive person, so I am going to enjoy these moments of success. But my called position and commitment to social justice lead me to reflect on what remains to be done in order to truly feel that a celebration is in order.

Creating solutions to social justice issues and societal disparities relating to race, gender, poverty, economics, health, homelessness, addiction, abuse and marginalization would be really worth celebrating. Recognizing that gun violence is a health issue and finding ways to stop senseless killings would be a huge cause for excitement.

CHHSM member ministries work every day to address these issues. Many are marking significant anniversaries this year, and I am truly joyful about that. These milestones pay tribute to their sustainability, longevity and stewardship, and their commitment to the mission, vision and values that guide their service. I am also keenly aware that all of our CHHSM ministries deserve thanks and continued support – even if they do not have special anniversaries this year. I encourage all of you to remember what these ministries have accomplished and to celebrate the future with them.

Yes, championships and other events bring fun celebrations and we should bask in their warm glow. But to me, brighter days are still a long ways off as we seek to improve the imperfect systems in our society. We must continue to work to change situations that build walls instead of bridges, create obstacles instead of solutions and reinforce privilege for a few instead of creating a truly fair and inclusive society.

A lot of work remains to be done, but we are making the effort together. We will move forward as long as we remember these words, inspired by the UCC’s StillSpeaking campaign: “Never place an exclamation point where God has placed a comma.”

 

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CHHSM Board and Staff are grieved to learn of the death of our friend and colleague, Greg Watson, who died in October 2022. Greg was vice president of operations for Embrace Living Communities, based in Oak Brook, Ill.Greg was a graduate of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute, class of 2018-2019, and was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister during our 2019 Annual Gathering in Chicago. In an article about his class in June 2018 — not long after the group’s first retreat — Greg said, “The best part is not only beginning the process of clarifying your calling; but also, understanding and accepting one’s personal strength. Recognition of one’s ‘true' self enables us to serve from a place of wholeness.”Greg also served on the CHHSM Board of Directors, and was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the CHHSM family. Embrace Living stated on its website, “Greg was an outstanding servant leader for 17 years at Embrace Living Communities. He will be greatly missed.”CHHSM sends its prayers and love to Greg’s friends, family, and Embrace Living colleagues. ... See MoreSee Less
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