CHHSM Accepting Applications for Enrollment in the 2023-2024 Nollau Leadership Institute

The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has opened applications for enrollment for the 2023-2024 class of its Nollau Leadership Institute.

The Institute’s year-long leadership formation program helps class members discern their call as Diakonal Ministers. A special vocation for serving leaders within CHHSM members and the wider United Church of Christ, Diakonal Ministers advance the health and service ministry of Jesus Christ. Since 1996, some 250 CHHSM leaders have been consecrated as Diakonal Ministers, part of the more than 300 consecrated from all denominations.

“The Nollau experience really is a journey — one that takes you deeply inward to yourself and widely outward to the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. “In the Christian tradition, a sacred journey is called a pilgrimage, and you not only have your destination, but your companions, your fellow pilgrims, that make it such a spiritual practice. The community building that Nollau offers is consistently noted by the alumni as one of the key takeaways. And isn’t that the lifeblood of leadership? As we continue to journey through this pandemic and other national and global crises, finding such a community for cultivating leadership is a powerful force indeed.”

Grounded in the health and human service organizations of the United Church of Christ, Nollau offers a unique space in which to experience leadership formation. Each year, Nollau brings together a community of leaders committed to creating a just, equitable, caring, and compassionate world. Such values deepen during the year-long class, says Berry, as participants grow in their leadership skills from a place of belonging.

Each year, the Nollau faculty updates the program content based on feedback from participants. This year’s class will be no exception. In addition to incorporating the input from the 2022-2023 class, the program also includes a focus on Race, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Leadership will be examined and practiced through the lenses of anti-oppression and social justice.

During the program, participants are invited to reflect deeply not only on who they are as leaders, but on their role — and the role of their community — in the ecosystem of the Spirit. The institute is structured in a retreat format, with rituals, contemplative practices, and small-group sharing as part of the program, alongside the interactive didactic sessions. 

The 2023-2024 program will consist of two in-person retreats — May 22-26 and Oct. 2-6 — at Bellwether Farm in Wakeman, Ohio, online interactions between retreats, and an additional day of programming during CHHSM’s 86th Annual Gathering, which takes place March 7-9, 2024. The Annual Gathering concludes with a closing worship service in which Nollau class members are consecrated and commissioned as Diakonal Ministers.

The 2023-2024 class will be able to tour the new UCC national offices in Cleveland. /UCCNews photo

“Bellwether Farm is a retreat center and educational farm camp located just 40 minutes from Cleveland International Airport,” said Berry. “This venue offers us not only a beautiful and accessible retreat setting, it also models sustainable and green living from a faith-based organization.”

Additionally, said Berry, “the new retreat location will enable us to take a field trip during the October retreat to tour the UCC national setting in downtown Cleveland.”

Berry toured the UCC’s new offices with the CHHSM board in 2022. “Even though CHHSM has its office there, I learned so much more than I had expected,” she said. “It was such a unique experience that illustrated how we are part of a worldwide community, and the important role CHHSM organizations play in this community. I hope our visit will allow the participants to more deeply feel that welcome and connection with the UCC.”

Named after Louis Edward Nollau — a 19th-century missionary, preacher and founder of several St. Louis-area CHHSM ministries — the Nollau Leadership Institute emphasizes the kind of integrated leadership that its namesake modeled: professional excellence rooted in faith-based purpose. Graduates of the Nollau Institute leave the program with a better understanding of how their faith calls them to lead.

Nollau faculty members take great care in making sure the program is interactive, with participants helping to design their own program, to assist in facilitating sessions, and to mentor each other.

“The Nollau Leadership Institute helps participants focus on spiritual formation and preparation for leadership,” says Jamar Doyle, CHHSM president and CEO. “As CHHSM’s signature program, the Nollau Institute is now more than 20 years old. We are blessed to be able to offer it to our UCC colleagues, partners, and friends.”

Space is limited, and fills up quickly, so early applications are strongly encouraged. The application is available online.

Note: CHHSM will continue to follow all CDC guidelines for travel and social gatherings. 

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