United Church of Christ Ministries and Partners Learn Servant Leadership through CHHSM Programs

For CHHSM and its ministries, the key is servant leadership. To that end, CHHSM provides two different types of programming for its member organizations and other United Church of Christ ministries, the year-long Nollau Institute and the Nollau To You one-day seminar experience.

Recently, participants in the 2018-2019 Nollau Institute held the first of three retreats at Cedar Valley in West Bend, Wis. The retreats create space for in-depth exploration of identity and calling, theory and theology, as well as an introduction to individual and communal practices of integrated leadership.

“This first retreat provided for me the opportunity to discover a new community of support and encouragement,” says the Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, CHHSM board member and director of Connect Ministries for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “I was impressed by the stories of my classmates, and their passion for their work; and, most importantly, the deep desire to be present with and for one another.”

Interaction and support among classmates are two of the keys to the Institute’s success. Created for leaders from CHHSM ministries, United Church of Christ-related ministries, and partner organizations, the Nollau Institute helps participants build relationships that often carry well past the year-long course.

“The relationships formed during the class are among the most important parts of the experience,” says the Rev. Danielle Bartz, CHHSM’s associate for leadership and advocacy. “They provide the basis for incredible learning, sharing, and rejoicing.”

Between the retreats, the Nollau Institute provides regular online dialogue and peer mentoring. The class helps fashion its own program of study as they explore the vocation of servant leadership. Students in the current class will prepare final projects that will be presented at the CHHSM Annual Gathering, where the 2018-2019 class will be commissioned as Diakonal Ministers.

Partner Program Nollau To You Trains Employees

MIchael J. Readinger and Danielle Bartz facilitate a Nollau To You discussion.

Nollau To You is a one-day seminar held on-site at CHHSM-member ministries. Geared toward corporate staff, supervisors, board members and other employees, it teaches the basic concepts of faith-based servant leadership to attendees. Participants then take their experiences back to the workplace and model that leadership style in their interactions with colleagues and coworkers.

Earlier this month, Brewster Place, a senior community in Topeka, Kan., hosted Nollau To You. During the upcoming months, three other CHHSM-member ministries will bring Nollau To You to their communities. In July, both United Church Homes — based in Marion, Ohio — and EHM Senior Solutions in Michigan will hold Nollau To You sessions. For two days in August, Nollau To You will go to Emmaus Homes in St. Charles, Mo.

“Nollau to You helps ground our employees in some of the basic concepts of servant leadership and the mission of United Church Homes,” says the Rev. Kenneth V. Daniel, UCH president and CEO. “It links our employees’ personal values and their faith with the history of our ministry. In this way, we find that employees can experience a deeper sense of personal engagement with both.”

Nollau To You introduces “servant leadership and counter-cultural leadership practices” to participants, says Bartz. “The day is divided between didactic work, small group conversations, and case studies. Surveys given at the beginning and end of each day have consistently shown an increase in understanding of servant leadership concepts.”

Kenneth Daniel’s experience with the program has borne that out. After a previous Nollau To You session, one employee told him, “Now I understand why my work feels so right to me.”

Both programs are named for the Rev. Louis Edward Nollau, a 19th-century missionary, preacher and founder of several CHHSM ministries. Each emphasizes the kind of integrated leadership that Nollau emphasized — professional excellence rooted in faith-based purpose.

“The Nollau Institute and Nollau To You help CHHSM develop, inspire and support leaders at all levels who are called to serve others,” says Michael J. Readinger, president and CEO of CHHSM. “Nollau is a central part of our mission to advance the work of all UCC health and human service ministries in creating a just, caring and compassionate world.”

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