CHHSM Accepting Applications for Enrollment in the 2024-2025 Nollau Leadership Institute

Participants during the first 2023-2024 class retreat. /Elyse Berry photo

The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has opened applications for enrollment for the 2024-2025 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 health and human service 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 260 CHHSM leaders have been consecrated as Diakonal Ministers, part of the more than 300 consecrated across several denominations

“The theme for the UCC’s General Synod this year was ‘making all things new.’ As I’ve reflected on this theme and scripture passage, I’ve continued to come back to how important leadership formation is to keeping those new things alive,” said the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. “This intensive program offers such rich soil for skills, personal awakening, and greater collaboration to emerge in vibrant ways. And part of that fertile ground is, of course, the diversity of the participants themselves.”

“Leaders from across the health and human services sector and, more broadly, the church come together to learn, share, challenge, and deepen their roots of belonging and care for others,” Berry continued. “My hope is that this diversity will only grow and widen, particularly as we continue to live into our values of justice, equity, and care for all.”

Each year, the Nollau faculty updates the program content based on feedback from graduating participants. In addition, 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.

A favorite gathering place at Bellwether Farm. /Elyse Berry photo

The 2024-2025 program will consist of two in-person retreats — May 20-24, 2024, and Oct. 7-11, 2024 — at Bellwether Farm in Wakeman, Ohio, online interactions between retreats, and an additional day of programming during CHHSM’s 87th Annual Gathering in early March 2025. During the gathering, participants’ final capstone projects are displayed. The Annual Gathering concludes with a closing worship service in which Nollau class members are consecrated and commissioned as Diakonal Ministers.

Located just 40 minutes from Cleveland International Airport, Bellwether Farm is a camp, retreat, and education center that offers a model of sustainable living that promotes physical and spiritual wellness, fidelity to the environment, and social justice. The setting has ADA accessible facilities featuring green technology, as well as farming, food production, and eco-stewardship — including farm-to-table meals. Each participant has a private room and bathroom and is encouraged to explore the beautiful retreat grounds and trails. “I am thrilled that we are going back to Bellwether Farm for the retreats,” said Berry.

Locking in the dates for the 2024-2025 retreats was key in opening applications for enrollment so early. “We know how crucial budgeting time, energy, and resources are for everyone, especially now,” Berry added, “and so opening registration as soon as possible became a vital priority for us.”

Each of the two retreats focuses on specific aspects of leadership. The first retreat is devoted to exploring the personal realm of leadership as participants reflect on their own leadership experiences and understanding, and what other practices can expand their leadership now. The May retreat includes a tour of Bellwether Farm, where participants will learn about how the farm lives into its faith-based values.

The second retreat includes a workshop at the UCC national offices. /Robert Lormor photo

The second retreat focuses on organizational awareness and the ecosystem in which leadership exists. Participants learn and practice skills that support their ability to lead through connection, courage, and change. The October retreat includes a tour of the national offices of the United Church of Christ in downtown Cleveland. While at the UCC offices, participants will attend a workshop facilitated by the Rev. Roberto Ochoa, the UCC’s minister for ethnic inclusion, and congregational support for rural and small churches.

Nollau participants receive copies of all the resources used during the program. In addition to receiving copies of the retreat materials, each participant also has permanent access to all of the program’s content via CHHSM’s online Learning Center.

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.

“The Nollau Leadership Institute helps participants renew and refresh their focus on spiritual formation and leadership,” said Jamar Doyle, CHHSM president and CEO. “It is CHHSM’s signature program. 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. A limited number of tuition scholarships are available to help offset the costs of the program. See the application for more information.

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

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