Worship Service Installing New CHHSM President and CEO Kicks Off Annual Gathering in Celebratory Fashion

CHHSM board and staff members during the Litany of Installation.

In a celebration of worship, CHHSM’s 84th Annual Gathering began March 8 with the installation of its new president and CEO, Jamar Doyle. The service was held at St. John UCC in Louisville, Ky., and marked the opening of the first in-person Annual Gathering since 2020.

“It is my joy to welcome you this morning to our opening worship service for the Annual Gathering for CHHSM. It is an honor for us to get to host you,” said the Rev. Dale Raines, pastor of St John. “I saw some posts on Facebook last evening from some of you commenting on being in Louisville and that it was the first time you had been anywhere for two years. So it’s exciting for us to get to be a part of that for you.”

The Rev. Dr. Chad Abbott, conference minister for the UCC’s Indiana-Kentucky Conference, brought the service’s opening meditation. Abbott highlighted that 24 CHHSM members that are part of the conference, adding that the number would be increasing to 25 during the Annual Gathering, as MOLO Village in Louisville becomes the newest CHHSM member.

The service and liturgy — written by the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development — focused on Philippians 3:12-17, also the theological basis of the Annual Gathering’s theme, “Forward Together.” In his sermon, the Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, focused on Paul’s message about straining forward one step at a time through life’s most challenging moments. Quoting what a colleague once told him, Dorhauer said, “There is nothing in this church that that cannot be changed as long as the gospel is preached and the kin-dom is proclaimed; one foot in front of the other, pushing forward, straining on.”

The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer delivered the sermon.

Following the sermon, CHHSM Board Members Abby Drane (president) of Bellewood & Brooklawn/Seven County Services in Louisville, Michelle Just (vice president) of Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, Jay Biere (treasurer) of Plymouth Place in LaGrange Park, Ill., and the Rev. Leslie Jackson of Settegast Heights in Houston gathered on the altar with Doyle and the rest of the CHHSM staff for the Litany of Installation.

“The Annual Gathering invites us to tap into the wells deep within us to find the underground rivers that connect us all to the same source,” said Just.

“Today, this current brings us to welcome and install Jamar Doyle as CHHSM’s new president and CEO,” added Drane. “So let us gather to honor his many gifts, and to pour our blessings upon him.”

The litany lifted up CHHSM’s core values, asking that Doyle receive each one as a blessing and source of strength and renewal. “CHHSM’s path is guided by our core values bringing our vision of a just, caring, and compassionate world to life,” said Jackson. “The CHHSM logo reflects the image of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and embodies our values of faith-based service. Jamar, may you receive each one of these values as a blessing.”

As CHHSM staff members took turns symbolically pouring water from a pitcher into the CHHSM basin, board members lifted up the values of inclusion, stewardship, courage, serving leadership, and covenant.

Following the litany, Board Member the Rev. Darrell Goodwin, executive conference minister of the UCC’s Southern New England Conference, led the words of covenant. “After thoughtful consideration and prayerful discernment, the board of directors of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ has chosen Jamar Doyle to serve as president and CEO,” said Goodwin. “Jamar, it is by mutual discernment that we have arrived here today. Are you willing to enter into this covenant with CHHSM and all of its member organizations?”

“I am willing,” said Doyle, “and I promise to serve this organization faithfully and enhance the lives and ministries of our membership. I promise to fulfill my duties as president and CEO, utilizing all of my gifts and the collective leadership of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries with integrity, compassion, and faith.”

Mike Readinger conveys the CHHSM badge of office to Jamar Doyle.

Following the covenant, Michael J. Readinger, outgoing president and CEO of CHHSM, presented the CHHSM Badge of Office.

“Friends, one of the great honors of being the president and CEO of CHHSM is the conveyance of the badge of office, which was a gift in 1992 from the Rev. Dr. Ken Buckwald from the Beatitudes Campus, given to Bryan Sickbert, my predecessor,” said Readinger. “And today, it is my honor to pass the badge of office to you, Jamar. May you wear it with pride, integrity, and the honor that the badge of office is intended to convey.”

The badge — a Zuni Indian sand casting designed and made by Arizona artist and silversmith Ray Grace — is in the form of a cross, cast in sterling silver, with the CHHSM Diakonal Shield in gold and black enamel at the crossing.

Dorhauer returned to the altar to deliver the final prayer and sending forth. “Spirit of the Living God, you call us to lives of deep purpose, shared mission, and values that turn our wildest imaginings into reality … We call on your Spirit to bless Jamar Doyle as he embodies this new role and covenant,” Dorhauer said. “Bless his questions as well as his ideas, his future hopes and the ancestors who brought him here, his endurance as well as his rest, and his leadership as it is fueled by partnership. May your grace move through our CHHSM members and their communities, that our mutual ministry may be served with all faithfulness, diligence, and courage.

“Together, on behalf of our CHHSM members and with the guidance of the Spirit, I declare you duly installed as president and CEO.”

CHHSM’s Annual Gathering continues through March 10 at The Brown Hotel in Louisville. Worship services, keynote addresses and plenaries, and the evening celebrations March 8 and 9 can be viewed via Facebook Live on CHHSM’s Facebook page.

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