UCC Servant Leadership Explored through CHHSM’s Nollau To You and Diakonal Minister Retreat

A Nollau To You presentation during the Dec. 7 session.

The UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries held two servant leadership events during the first week of December. Both were part of its ongoing work to teach and nurture servant leaders in its member ministries.

The first-ever “reunion retreat” of UCC Diakonal Ministers took place Dec. 5 and 6 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. On Dec. 7, the UCC’s Retirement Housing Foundation‘s corporate offices in Long Beach, Calif., played host to the latest “Nollau To You” seminar on servant leadership.

Tailored to the Needs of the Organization

Nollau To You participants learn during a small-group session.

Nollau To You is geared toward corporate staff, supervisors, board members, and other CHHSM member-ministry employees. It teaches the concepts of faith-based servant leadership to attendees, who then take their experiences back to their workplace and model that leadership style in their interactions with colleagues and coworkers.

The participants at the Retirement Housing Foundation event enjoyed the experience, said RHF President and CEO the Rev. Laverne Joseph. Nollau To You “gave a larger group of team members a firsthand experience with CHHSM, and a reminder of why we do what we do.” Joseph said. RHF has communities across the United States, and is one of the nation’s largest non-profit providers of housing and services for older adults.

Nollau To You brings instructors to CHHSM sites and tailors presentations and small group activities to the specific CHHSM ministry. It also includes a presentation on CHHSM and servant leadership by CHHSM President and CEO Michael Readinger and Associate for Leadership and Advocacy the Rev. Danielle Bartz.

“I really enjoyed the Nollau To You,” said one participant. “It’s a great reminder of why we are all here at RHF, and [what] it means to work here as a team … The best part was the group discussion that each table had. It’s nice to hear what other’s opinions are and why [they] might be different.”

Said another, “The best part of the experience was that the day was based on RHF’s mission and servant leadership … I would definitely recommend Nollau to other CHHSM organizations.”

One participant thanked Joseph “for allowing us to experience and participate in this kind of conference” as well as Readinger and Bartz “for their dedication, advocacy and leadership to help participants be reminded [of] and work to create a just, caring, and compassionate world.”

“The day was a big hit with our team members,” said Joseph, “and I think we’d have no difficulty in getting another group of team members to participate.”

Graduates of Nollau Reconnect

Retreat participants during the Medicine Walk at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

In the quiet of the desert retreat center in Scottsdale, eight Diakonal Ministers and graduates of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute assembled for the two-day retreat.

Chuck Hollingsworth, vice president of sales and chief lending officer for the UCC’s Cornerstone Fund, said the retreat was “a healthy blend of workshop, self-reflection and renewal,” and a reminder of the importance of finding balance and making sure “to take time and serve one’s self, which provides the energy to serve others.”

The reunion was 60 percent retreat and 40 percent work, said Bartz, who presented a new model for servant leadership during the retreat. One of the days was given over to self-reflection, using the desert as a metaphor. Participants also experienced a “medicine walk” — an intentional walk where the walker reflects on a problem or challenge — at the Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Phoenix.

“The best part, as always, is the relationships,” Hollingsworth added. “We all ‘carried’ something with us when we went through Nollau, and found support, encouragement, and acceptance from our classmates. The retreat is no different.

“Life is a series of events (or deserts), each preparing us for the next desert crossing. Taking the time to attend the retreat — especially when we don’t think we have the time — affirms [that] our spirit needs continued nourishment, which is provided in the Nollau setting we’ve come to trust.”

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