Nollau Institute Guides, Connects Leaders
When Sandy Sorensen is consecrated as a Diakonal Minister at the CHHSM annual meeting in March, she’ll be in the company of 17 other leaders who will return to their ministries across the country with a renewed sense of mission and purpose.
“One of the most important things we can do as servant leaders is to listen to, observe and feed the sources of our own creativity and innovation, as well as feed and sustain that energy for our colleagues,” says Sorenson, director of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries in Washington, D.C.
For the last year, Sorensen has been a member of this year’s Nollau Institute, CHHSM’s yearlong leadership formation program designed to help leaders explore their vocations with the support of a community of practice.
This year’s class marks the 20th anniversary of CHHSM’s formal leadership training that started with the Transformational Leadership Program. The Nollau Institute program, created in 2011 and open to leaders from CHHSM ministries and partner organizations, is named after Louis Edward Nollau, a 19th-century missionary and preacher, and founder of several CHHSM ministries.
The institute emphasizes the kind of integrated leadership that its namesake modeled – professional excellence rooted in faith-based purpose.
“I have noticed that, in the last few years, nonprofit organizations – including faith-based organizations – are increasingly looking to the corporate world for models of effective leadership, organizational structure, communication and mission planning,” Sorensen says. “Plumbing the depths of our spiritual tradition has so much to offer in this conversation.”
Those kinds of discussions with fellow participants and faculty members have deepened her sense of mission and work.
“One of the biggest take-aways for me is a renewed appreciation of and commitment to the spiritual resources that can ground, sustain, and revitalize our approaches to service leadership and organizational structure and dynamics for living out our mission,” Sorensen says.
The Nollau program is led by a core team of four faculty members and follows best practices in adult education and leadership training, grounded in a fundamental appreciation of faith heritage and spiritual formation. Participants engage through retreats, site visits, online dialogue and peer mentoring.
For the first time at this year’s annual meeting, members of the Nollau Institute class will lead three sessions focusing on final projects they completed: a specialty bread-baking business concept organizations might use to engage constituents to raise awareness and funds; communications strategies that keep pace with changing times and demographics; and a workshop focusing on teamwork and leadership.
Michael Ann Wiley, a licensing supervisor with UCAN, a youth services ministry in Chicago, says she was surprised and heartened by the sense of fellowship that developed among a diverse group of participants.
“The warmth and friendliness of this group was great,” Wiley says. “I was surprised to encounter so many similarly dissimilar people. They were inviting and open. I love them all. I feel a million dollars richer from meeting such an industrious group of loving, learned individuals.”
Wiley says the experience is helping to guide her work at UCAN.
“My theme for the year is to be very intentional regarding the work I do,” she says, “to really stay focused on what is most important and to always remember only what we do for Christ will last.”
Join Our Mailing LIst