Interview with Outgoing LMM Board President and Chair Rev. Chuck Campbell

In his many years and capacities, Rev. Charles “Chuck” Campbell has made an enormous imprint on the agencies comprising up Lutheran Ministries of Mercy (LMM). Relying on a deep belief in the organizations’ missions, as well a passion to help others, Chuck has overseen the organizations growth and collaborative initiatives.

Meanwhile, from his current position, he has also served as an influential ambassador of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a Liberator Award, honoring the work of amazing individuals fighting human trafficking. 

It has been a whirlwind year for the agency. But even with everything he’s had going on, Chuck was willing recently to take a few minutes to talk about his time at Lutheran Social Services, and his hopes for the organization’s future.

LSS: Take us back. What were the circumstances that brought you join the LMM board?

Rev. Campbell: I was asked to join the Lutheran Social Services (LSS) board by Norm Merkel and served on the board for a number of years, including time as the chair.  When LSS was invited to be part of the Lutheran Ministries of Mercy (LMM) organization, I was asked to come on the LMM board and have served as chair of that board for the last three years.

LSS: As you got to know Lutheran Social Services, what left an impression on you?

Rev. Campbell: Lutheran Social Services has always been a leader in providing so many different ways to serve people. Whether it be faith-based mental health counseling, the food pantry, financial counseling, employment enhancement or many other opportunities, Lutheran Social Services has continually met the needs of the community with a faith-based approach that has never wavered in its dedication to making a difference in serving others in the name of Christ. 

LSS: What has been the biggest constant at LSS over the years?  

Rev. Campbell: As the needs of the community have changed, LSS has risen to the challenge to provide services that meet those needs. But in the midst of the changes, the one constant has been the leadership. I have had the privilege of working with four leaders, each of whom has provided incredible commitment.  Norm Merkel, Nancy Yunker, Lucy Wayton, and now Traci Jaksetic have served the agency with dedication, providing leadership that has made LSS a beacon of hope to thousands of people whose lives have been made better by what the agency does on a daily basis.

LSS: Why is our work so important right now?

Rev. Campbell: Covid 19 has created a unique and serious crisis for many people.  Food insecurity, mental health concerns, the stress of job loss, and rent and utility payments that have become significant struggles, have impacted the lives of many people. LSS has been at the forefront of meeting these concerns with professionalism and dedication.

LSS: You and Jeri (your Wife) volunteer at LSS, how and when did that begin?  

Rev. Campbell: I have volunteered at LSS through my board and committee participation for over 15 years. When I retired from active parish ministry, I added working in the food pantry to my work at LSS and Lutheran Ministries of Mercy. My wife Jeri began volunteering after her retirement, serving at the reception desk, doing filing, answering phones, and helping wherever she is needed.  Both of us have found this time to be enriching in our lives and we have both had the honor of being recognized as Volunteer of the Year.

LSS: What did you enjoy about your service?

Rev. Campbell: The opportunity to serve with some really incredible staff and volunteers, as well as seeing the faces and hearing the stories from clients as to how LSS and the people who serve here have made a difference in their lives.

LSS: What ways would you like to continue to be involved at LSS?

Rev. Campbell: It will be both of our desires to return to active volunteering once the Covid-19 pandemic is under greater control with a reliable vaccine.

(Not sure at this point as to how else to answer this question as I sort out my involvement after being term limited on the board.)

LSS: What lessons did you learn from your experience of being on the board?

Rev. Campbell: It has been a joy to work with a diverse group of people who have one common goal of striving to serve our clients better than yesterday and not as well as tomorrow.  I have learned how to meld together different thoughts, opinions and skills into a cohesive approach to our mission.

LSS: What have you been proudest of, in terms of the ways in which the organization (LMM) has grown and evolved since you first joined the board?

Rev. Campbell: First, under Don Wukotich, and now under Terri Rodriguez, I have seen the growth of LMM moving toward a true overarching organization that will continue to take on issues and administration common to all three agencies while giving each agency the capability of doing what needs to be done to best operate their individual facilities.  

LSS: Where do you see LSS and/or LMM in five years?

Rev. Campbell: Our three agencies have served our communities for a combined 260 years.  And that legacy remains as strong as ever. Our theme this year is “Working Together For The Good of Many” and our annual fund appeal says “Together, Toward Tomorrow!” Both of these themes reflect for me what LMM has done and will do to continue to meet the everchanging needs of our community in the years ahead. I believe LMM, as well as Lutheran Social Services, Filling Home, and Luther Home of Mercy have the leaders and staff to be an important force in providing faith-based ministry for decades to come. I believe we can look forward to a brighter tomorrow for our agencies and the people we serve.

LSS: What would be something about yourself that would surprise someone?

Rev. Campbell: While actively serving a church full time, I taught part-time for five years in the Visual Communications department in the College of Technology at Bowling Green State University, where I also have season tickets for their hockey team, even though I have never been on a pair of ice skates. 

LSS: Anything you would care to add?

Rev. Campbell: I feel humbled by the opportunity to serve and look forward to continuing in the years ahead.