To me this seems a fitting symbol of United Church Homes in its centennial year, new and old elements blending together, revealing the bold spirit of this enduring ministry. The colors, the structure, and the flow of light evoke the spirit of what United Church Homes has become and where we are headed.
The bold colors remind us of the Toledo-area congregations that met in June 1916 to appoint the first Board of Trustees for “The Home for the Aged” of the German Reformed Church. They chartered this new ministry to fulfill a “Golden Purpose.” Their vision enacted the gospel mandate to follow Jesus Christ in serving others in need. This “Golden Purpose” of 1916 still undergirds our new colorful Vision of 2016 — United Church Homes: Where the Spirit creates Abundant Life in Community.
The founders used the lively heritage of diaconal mission houses in Germany to shape their new ministry. We read of this colorful spirit in a flurry of letters from congregations near and far. Remarkably, many sent gifts knowing full well that their own members would likely not benefit directly due to their distance from Ohio. Joined by their faith tradition, they underwrote the fledgling ministry.
Then in an explosion of grace, siblings Matthew and Jane Smith bequeathed their farmland to the cause, responding to a story of the project in their local newspaper. Their gift led to the development of Fairhaven in Upper Sandusky, an early prototype of an integrated campus of care with independent, assisted living, and skilled nursing services under one roof.
The structure of the Fairhaven window also evokes our interconnected system of facilities. From the small Toledo home on Collingwood Avenue with five residents, today United Church Homes’ ministries touch over 4,000 people in 68 locations in 13 states and two Native American reservations. Our growing family consists of communities with a full array of services; innovative dementia, rehabilitation, and pastoral care programs; and affordable housing with support services, serving a diverse population around the country.
Finally, the dynamic colors flowing upward in the Fairhaven window beckon us to imagine our future. Our staff provide the same loving care that has been a constant for 100 years. However, creative work is underway throughout the organization to meet the ever-changing needs of our seniors. Skilled rehab therapies help an increasing number of patients to move from hospital to home. We also employ a new complement of technologies and innovative clinical practices as our nursing centers take on new importance in post-acute care. Our Clinical Pastoral Education program has quickly become a new partner with theological education shaping spiritual and pastoral leaders for the future. We also look ahead to growing our affordable housing program, expanding our retirement communities, and adding our voice to advocate against ageism and discrimination against LGBT, Native Americans, and other minority seniors in our society.
I hope you enjoy this special edition of Spirit that — in bold colors — celebrates our past, present, and future in the transformational work we continue to do. This issue commemorates our faith-based heritage, our dynamic leaders, our caring staff, our loyal volunteers, our generous donors, and most of all, our treasured residents who represent the sole purpose for which we exist. Thanks for being part of our colorful story.