CHHSM Forms New Diakonal Minister Affinity Group for Serving Leadership Graduates
The latest of the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries’ (CHHSM) Affinity Groups kicks off April 19. The Diakonal Minister Affinity Group is open to all members of the Diakonal Minister Community — the alumni network of the Nollau Leadership Institute and its two predecessor programs, the Transformational Leadership Program and the Faith-Based Leadership Institute.
The virtual sessions will take place monthly, on the third Tuesday of the month at 2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, 12 p.m. MT and 11 a.m. PT.
“The idea for the new group came about from wanting to build up the network of alumni,” said the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. “During the pandemic, our affinity group participation went way up, and so I was building off of that energy and receptivity. I also wanted to create a place for the new Nollau graduates to land immediately after finishing the program so that we can continue to cultivate community for and with them.”
Registration is required to become part of the Affinity Group, and the only requirement is to have been consecrated as a Diakonal Minister through one of the CHHSM programs.
The monthly meetings are a way for past and recent Diakonal Ministers to build community, provide self-care, connect with each other, and hone leadership skills — but also to recharge and reflect. Attendance is not mandatory, so once registered, group members can come as often as they would like and/or when their schedules allow.
“Doing these virtual affinity group meetings every month offers a simple, free, and readily accessible way to stay connected,” said Berry. “The folks who have gone through Nollau and its predecessor programs have an abundance of gifts to share with each other, the wider CHHSM community, and within themselves. The group provides the consistent space to deepen these gifts, connections, wisdom, and shared call to serving leadership.”
Berry will be the lead facilitator of the group, but expects an affinity group of serving leaders also will want to bring their leadership skills to the sessions. “I’m hoping this leadership will be shared by those in the group,” she said. “So if someone has a leadership tool they’ve found to be really useful, or a reflective exercise that they’d like to share, the door is open for folks to facilitate discussion or practices with the group. Since the meetings are monthly, this also allows for more opportunities for members to jump in.”
Another hope Berry has for the group is that it helps expand CHHSM’s commitment to serving leadership. “Nollau continues to be one of our cornerstone offerings, and I’d love to build off of its richness in new ways,” she said. “Nollau has been such a life-changing experience for so many people, and one of the most important parts of that experience has been the cohort community. My vision of this affinity group is to widen that community through honing our leadership skills and deepening our spiritual purpose — and doing so together.”
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