Enrollment Open for CHHSM’s 2021-2022 Nollau Leadership Institute

The Nollau Leadership Institute Class of 2020.

The UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has opened enrollment for the 2021-2022 class of its Nollau Leadership Institute.

“After putting last year’s Nollau class on hold due to the pandemic, we are looking forward to bringing folks together again for this unique experience of leadership formation,” says the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development.

The Institute’s year-long 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 200 CHHSM leaders have been consecrated as Diakonal Ministers, part of the more than 300 consecrated from all denominations.

The Nollau faculty has a tradition of updating the program content based on feedback from participants. This year’s class will be no exception. In addition to incorporating the input from the 2019-2020 class, the program also will include recommendations from the recently-completed Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (RDEI) Audit CHHSM undertook as part of its commitment to anti-racism. Leadership will be examined at the intersections of anti-oppression work, theology, and healing, all of which are part of restorative justice.

“The Nollau Leadership Institute helps participants discern their call to serving leadership. One way it does that is by helping to make the connection between advocacy and leadership,” says Berry. “A call to serving leadership is a commitment to advocating with and for those we serve. This connection provides a unique perspective on leadership training and helps to imagine and express what it means to be a leader in a faith-based organization. CHHSM’s vision is to create a more just, caring, and compassionate world, and so learning about what advocacy can look like in leadership, no matter what your role is, centers us on that shared vision.”

The 2019 Nollau class.

During the year-long 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. 

“Nollau helped me realize my vocation is in the affordable housing industry. It assisted me in valuing where I came from, where I am and, most importantly, where I’m headed,” says Traci Maxwell, senior FHA loan processor and executive secretary at Retirement Housing Foundation in Long Beach, Calif. Maxwell, a 2020 graduate, adds, “Nollau taught me how to graciously advocate change through appreciative inquiry, to be the innovator of new ideas, and to speak up!”

The 2021-2022 program will consist of two in-person retreats at Cedar Valley Retreat Center in West Bend, Wis., online interactions between retreats, and an additional day of programming during CHHSM’s 84th Annual Gathering, which takes place March 8-10, 2022 in Louisville, Ky. The Annual Gathering concludes with a closing worship service in which class members are consecrated and commissioned as Diakonal Ministers.

“The Nollau program provided me the opportunity to learn from an amazing group of leaders from all over the country,” says Rick Garriott, another 2020 Nollau graduate and vice president of human resources for Bellewood & Brooklawn in Louisville, Ky. “We shared ideas, had tough discussions and had fun adventures. Nollau integrated concepts of leadership that allowed us to build our skills with each other in a space without judgment and full of agape love.”

Named after Louis Edward Nollau — a 19th-century missionary, preacher and founder of several St. Louis-area CHHSM ministries — the 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.

Members of the class of 2020 are consecrated as Diakonal Ministers.

“The Nollau program has been one of the most important influences in helping me to have a more positive and open-minded perspective from a spiritual standpoint,” says Nollau 2020 graduate Kenyae Hooker, manager, Embrace Living Communities in Oak Brook, Ill. “I also learned how to carry the best of my past into the future, as I help to create a plan to transform our organization and culture in a positive way.”

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 serving leadership,” says Michael J. Readinger, 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 to 21 participants, 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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