The first known records indicate the presence of a Ministerial Association in the City of Harrisburg in 1866. The purpose of this organization was the promotion of social interaction, mutual literary and religious improvement, and the advancement of the cause of Christ through the agency of the different churches.

In 1944, the Association changed its name to United Churches of Greater Harrisburg and Dauphin County and the first part-time executive director, The Rev. Dr. Jesse D. Reber, began his duties. In 1965, the organization changed its name to Council of Churches of Greater Harrisburg and in 1978 the Council reorganized and became known as Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area. The executive director was Rev. Charles E. Dorsey. The agency was officially incorporated in 1982.

The Agnes Flood of 1972 triggered the formation of the Ecumenical Emergency Fund (EEF) by the Council of Churches of Greater Harrisburg. The concern for those who were devastated by the flood stimulated churches and community groups to establish an ongoing fund to aid flood victims. The EEF gave aid to those within the community who were faced with emergency needs such as shelter, fuel, clothing, medicine, and transportation. As an outgrowth of EEF, in 1982 the Harrisburg-Area Emergency Life-Survival Project (H.E.L.P.) was formed in conjunction with Catholic Social Services, Tressler Lutheran Services, the Boyd Memorial Center, and Christian Churches United. The ministry became simply HELP in the early 1990’s.

By 1987, La Casa de Amistad (The House of Friendship) had become a ministry of CCU, providing outreach to the Spanish-speaking community with case management, language classes, after-school programs, and HIV/AIDS outreach and education.

The Prison Action Committee, CCU’s longest-standing ministry, has been instrumental in providing a forum for volunteer prison ministies in the area. One of the committee’s greatest accomplishments was that they helped to hire a chaplain for the Dauphin County Prison (DCP). In the early 1990’s, CCU helped to establish a second chaplaincy position at DCP. The Committee also worked to establish a chaplain position at the former County-owned nursing home and has pushed for a chaplain position at the Youth Center. The Committee continues working to provide support for inmates and their families. Beginning in 1993, the second chaplain position became a CCU staff person, spending 75% of his or her time at the prison and 25% in the community.

In 2004, CCU began working with many agencies and churches to bring a safe haven program to the Harrisburg area in support of the homeless with mental health issues. CCU has long identified these two chronic situations as part of its mission and work.

From 1992 through 2005, Lend A Hand, a volunteer ministry, was affiliated with CCU to provide volunteer disaster relief, especially in other states.

In 1997, the Bridge of New Cumberland, a volunteer food pantry and delivery ministry, became a ministry of CCU. CCU participated in the development of the ministry, along with many social service organizations and churches in Cumberland County.

Through the years, CCU has provided a wide range of services for the community-at-large including: SMAP (Single Mother Advocacy Program); ENTER (Employment Now Through Education, Effort, and Responsibility): TEFAP (cheese and butter distribution); Patoral Care; and countless other volunteer programs (i.e. Campus Chaplain at H.A.C.C., weekly radio programs, ministry with the aging, Christian Family Month, etc.)

As an organization of churches, each year CCU serves more than 10,000 individuals through its various ministries.  Please check out the pages for those ministries to learn more about what CCU is doing today.