CHHSM Annual Gathering to Feature Inspiring Workshops

From mission planning to restorative justice, finances to employee satisfaction, the workshops at CHHSM’s 2023 Annual Gathering contain something for everyone. This year’s event, “Together Through Mountains and Valleys,” takes place March 7-9 in Denver, and its workshops promise to be informative, motivational, and meaningful.

The 85th Annual Gathering features three sessions of workshops: morning and afternoon sessions March 8, plus additional workshops March 9. Attendees choose from three offerings during each workshop session.

“I am excited that our workshop presenters represent not only a good number of CHHSM members who will be sharing best practices from their ministries, but also a significant number of CHHSM partners — such as the Pension Boards, the Cornerstone Fund, and the national setting of the UCC,” said the Rev. George Graham, vice president of CHHSM. “The workshops we have planned really highlight the power of the connections that membership in CHHSM provides.”  

The topics of the three workshops offered March 8 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. include philanthropy, restorative justice in the workplace, and nurturing satisfied employees.

Biere and Holman
  • Navigating the Mountains and Valleys of Philanthropy in an Ever-Changing Donor Landscape will be presented by Jay Biere and Paddy Homan of Plymouth Place in LaGrange, Ill. Biere, president and CEO, and Homan, senior director of philanthropy, will examine the role of philanthropy in nonprofit organizations, its importance in annual budgeting, and the role of key leadership and boards in philanthropy. It will include a case study of Plymouth Place’s gift planning, and will provide resources for attendees to take with them.
Soto, Marks, and Ramsey
  • The Pension Boards: Your Covenant Partner in Nurturing Satisfied Employees will be presented by Maria Soto, the Pension Boards (PB) regional account manager, Travis Marks, director of the PB’s Generations University, and Paul Ramsey, PB philanthropy officer, will introduce the mission and resources of the Pensions Boards, and to its emerging vision of dynamic partnerships with CHHSM organizations that contribute to their vitality and sustainability.
  • Restorative Justice in the Workplace features CHHSM’s Rev. Jerry Paul Scholar, Dr. Zaria Davis. It will include a discussion of healing personally and professionally when harm has been done in the workplace setting. There also will be a community-building focus, and ways to repair harm through accountability. The discussion also will touch on the collaborative decision-making processes that build trust as a vehicle for repairing harm. The workshop will look at relational ways to address the healing of harm.

“I hope that participants will explore various ways to address trauma in the workplace,” said Davis. “It may be internal harm or harm that has been done externally, but is manifested at work.  How do we address it where people feel supported, have an opportunity to heal, and address oppressive systems in the workplace that may have been overlooked? The session is interactive, so it will require participants to truly explore changes and how to address them moving forward in a restorative manner.”

Also on March 8, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. will be workshops on inclusive and mission-driven strategic planning, creative borrowing to improve mission, and creating a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged) organization.

Pretre and Jennings
  • From the Valley to the Summit: Developing Inclusive and Mission-driven Strategic Planning for your Organization will be presented by Cedar Community’s Nicole Pretre, CEO, and Julie Jennings, vice president of spiritual care and wellbeing. It will include Cedar Community’s experience with strategic planning. It didn’t intend to develop a new structure but deeply thoughtful conversations among board and leadership team members became a commitment to advocate for the residents, team members, volunteers, donors, and many partners. A new set of Guiding Principles and Priorities evolved that guide the weaving of inclusion and belonging throughout the organization.

    “We realize that understanding our organizational ‘why’ is critical to crafting relevant and meaningful strategic plans,” said Pretre. “Our ‘why’ also helps us connect our work around inclusion and belonging directly to our mission. We will share the process we used to define our ‘why,’ and suggest how attendees can adapt and apply what we learned to their own organizations.”
  • Furthering Your Mission with Creative Borrowing will be offered by Maria Coyne, president and CEO of the UCC Cornerstone Fund. Attendees will learn more about how Cornerstone’s creative financing solutions have assisted other CHHSM members in maintaining, expanding or repurposing their facilities to further their mission and more-effectively deliver their ministries.

    “After hearing these stories, I hope attendees will be inspired to think creatively about how they use their property for mission,” said Coyne.
  • Rounding out the Wednesday afternoon workshop session will be Creating a WISE Organization, led by the Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund, minister for disabilities and mental health justice for the UCC. This engaging and practical session will focus on sharing resources to support CHHSM members’ commitment to mental health. The WISE model of storytelling and a step-by-step guide will prepare attendees to begin their organization’s own WISE journey.

    “The UCC Mental Health Network invites everyone to join the WISE mental health movement and to adopt a covenant and become a designated WISE setting of the UCC,” said Lund. “This workshop will share an overview of this innovative program. You are not alone on this journey — join us!”

The Thursday, March 9, workshop session takes place from 10:30-11:45 a.m., and features workshops on affordable housing and workplace safety. The offerings also include a workshop teaching attendees a simple morning spiritual practice.

Corradino, Nagler, and Stern
  • Faith-Based Development Concepts, presented by Archway Communities Sebastian Corradino, CEO, Julie Stern, director of real estate, and Sandy Nagler, director of programs, will examine Archway’s faith-based affordable housing communities in Denver. Corradino, Stern, and Nagler will discuss how Archway partners with UCC churches to repurpose them for affordable housing.

    “Many congregations around the country are taking a fresh look at the real estate they own and asking, ‘What is the best way for this real estate to advance our mission and have a positive impact in the community?’ In many cases, the answer might be something beyond congregational meeting space and parking!” said Stern. “How can congregations evaluate the potential of their real estate for development and envision what the future could be? In this session, Archway Communities will introduce the framework we use to engage with congregations to begin moving through these conversations, and share about a new grant opportunity we’re developing to support this work.”
  • Active Shooter Planning, Preparedness and De-escalation will be offered by Tim Reutiman, training and exercise coordinator with the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Securty Agency, Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming). Building and providing a safe and secure environment for faith-based communities is no different than typical security planning, but with nuances that are respective of an organization’s desire for openness and access, engagement with those they serve, visitors, and the missions that may be impacted by heightened security. The workshop will examine how to enhance preparedness for an unpredictable active shooter incident through a whole community approach and will provide products, tools, and resources to help CHHSM members prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident.
  • Also offered in the Thursday session will be A Simple Morning Practice to Thrive, presented by the Rev. Andy DeBraber, generosity officer of the United Church of Christ. Fit for anyone — new to spiritual practice or a long-time practitioner, the workshop will draw from multiple traditions including meditation, breath work, body work and journaling to teach a simple 20-minute daily morning practice to sustain body, mind, and soul.

    “As people who work to meet others’ needs, we often neglect our own body, mind, and spirit,” said DeBraber. “I’ve been amazed at how this combination of practices addresses body, mind and spirit to provide healing, strength, and focus for the day. Both simple and profound, I do the whole practice sitting. Yet I’ve been most surprised by the positive effects on my body.

    “My hope is that participants will take away a simple practice of centering, healing and grounding they can incorporate regularly into their lives at any time of day. People will be invited to incorporate what works into their current practices, or to use portions of it during brief moments throughout the day,” DeBraber added. “In the end, I hope this practice will sustain people in body, mind, and spirit to remain healthy and engaged in this vital work and ministry for the long-term, co-creating a more just and loving world for all.”

This year’s Annual Gathering takes place at the Hilton City Center in Denver. In addition to the workshops, highlights of this year’s Gathering include:

Clockwise, from top left: Blackmon, Sanders, de la Torre, Howe
  • Opening worship leader the Rev. Traci Blackmon, the UCC’s associate general minister for Justice and Local Church Ministries.
  • Opening keynote March 7 by the Rev. Dr. Ben Sanders III, strategic advisor, office of internal and external affairs, Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, who will help attendees reflect on the journey through the mountains and valleys the past several years and the role of faith-based organizations in supporting the challenging but critical work of helping people to stay together as life’s journeys harden.
  • An afternoon Plenary Panel Keynote March 8 led by Ziegler, a capital investments advisory firm specializing in nonprofits, and a panel of CHHSM members who will reflect on the issue of “Mission and Margin” as we journey together through the mountains and valleys of the new reality we are all facing.
  • Closing keynote March 9 by the Rev. Tracy Howe, founder of Restoration Village Arts. Howe will look at the mountain experience of Jesus’ transfiguration and his disciples’ hesitancy to leave that place of security, power and love. Being present to all the world’s complexity, and especially the sustained injustice and threats of violence facing so many, is overwhelming. But we are assured we are not alone, and in fact might witness and be transformed by daily transfigurations leading us into deeper security, power and love, even as the world seemingly spirals farther from it.
  • Time to visit the Denver Art Museum, renowned for its collection of indigenous art from the Americas. With collections of more than 70,000 diverse works from across the centuries and the world, it is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast.
  • Closing worship at the art museum, including consecration of the 2022 Nollau Class as diakonal ministers. The service will feature music by the Rev. Tracy Howe and a sermon by the Rev. Dr Miguel A. De La Torre, professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Iliff School of Theology.

“This year’s workshops, worship experiences, and keynotes will create an inspiring three days for attendees to the Annual Gathering,” said Jamar Doyle, president and CEO of CHHSM. “We are looking forward to gathering together again, and I relish the opportunities to share our stories and ministries as we navigate the mountains and valleys of the future together.”

Register now for the Annual Gathering.

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