Thriving Leadership Formation

Equipping ELCA leaders for a changing world.

Practice, Learning, Friendship

Cohorts

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Anything good and life-changing begins within small groups of people who trust one another. The goal of our Cohorts is to foster and equip spiritual leaders for new models of ministry and church. These small groups are communities of practice, learning and friendship… places for you and others to form meaningful relationships built on trust. Membership is open to rostered and non-rostered leaders in ELCA Regions 1 and 2.

There are two types of Cohorts:

1. At Large Cohorts are organized around a particular group or theme.

2. Synod Cohorts are organized around ELCA Synods in Regions 1 and 2.

Join

Gather with fellow leaders in small groups to encourage and equip each other to live out your faith in ways that make a difference in the world.

Lead

Interested in leading a Cohort? Leaders receive training and support to convene a small group.

Personal, Professional, & Spiritual Guidance

Coaching &
Spiritual Direction

Our Coaches & Spiritual Directors are for participants in our Thriving Leadership Formation Cohort Groups (past and present).

Our Coaches partner with you in thought-provoking and creative processes to inspire you to maximize your personal and professional potential.

Our Spiritual Directors are attuned to asking questions about where you are seeing God and the Holy Spirit move, activate and/or disconnected in your life.

It is important to us that you choose the Coach or Spiritual Director you want to connect with. We know each person seeking these resources come with different experiences, hopes, and needs. We invite you to take a few deep breaths center yourself, pray, and then review the information about each Coach and/or Spiritual Director. 

What they say

TLF stories

“I’ve learned the value of spiritual practices that I would have never otherwise have tried. It’s helped connect the head and the heart for me personally.”

Tammy

Cohort Leader

“The participants in my group look forward to gathering each time. They feel filled with the Spirit and renewed after each gathering. Participants have shared that they feel better able to thrive in ministry when they are tending to their own spiritual renewal and gathering in a safe space with colleagues.”

 

Laura

Cohort Leader

“This doesn’t feel like the regular zoom meetings. This is life giving. It’s reminding me of new practices or I’m learning new practices.”

 

Kaitlin

Cohort Leader

About Us

In 2018, California Lutheran University received a nearly $1 million, five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment to create Thriving Leadership Formation in partnership with its own Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the 11 ELCA synods of Regions 1 and 2.

Thriving Leadership Formation seeks to foster relational, creative, Spirit-led, compassionate forms of ministry that are deeply responsive to local communities. Participants will work in small groups that encourage and equip leaders to live out their faith in ways that make a difference in the world. Session content will focus on spiritual resources, leadership skills, competencies and tools for thriving in the practice of ministry. Opportunities to walk with mentors and coaches enable participants to attend to their own spiritual lives, to the guidance of the Spirit, and to voices, gifts and needs within their communities.

  • ELCA Leaders experience spiritual renewal
  • Embody new spiritual practices (Sabbath, prayer, discernment, spiritual direction)
  • Learn new leadership skills (including but not limited to conflict management, social entrepreneurship, community organizing techniques, emotional intelligence assessments,
    cultural competency, financial management skills, fundraising techniques, marketing skills, strategic planning, organizational development, social media systems)
  • Form new friendships, new spiritual community
  • Form strong relationships with ministers/coaches who will guide them in developing ministry skills/approaches that are relevant and effective for the current age
  • Develop relevant, innovative, responsive forms of outreach to the wider (and more diverse) community
  • Heal loneliness and burnout
  • Revive local congregations and stem the tide of decline

Founded in 1959, California Lutheran University is home to more than 3,059 undergraduate and 1,324 graduate students who come from more than 49 countries and represent a wide variety of faiths. Both in the classroom and outside of it, everyone at Cal Lutheran is committed to helping each student pursue their passions to discover their purpose, and follow that purpose to transform their community — and the world.

More at CalLutheran.edu

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) develops leaders in the Lutheran tradition for a complex and changing world. We equip people to put their faith into action as the church and culture face dramatic change; because people who follow their purpose can transform a community — and the world.

Associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is the only Lutheran seminary in the western half of the United States. PLTS is a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of 19 seminaries and research centers in partnership with the University of California at Berkeley.

More at PLTS.edu

Meet Our Staff

Desta Goehner

Co-Director

Desta is a name that comes from Ethiopia, it means “deep joy”. Desta is a Spiritual Director and the Director of Congregational Relations at California Lutheran University. She is a connection between California Lutheran University and ELCA Regions 1 and 2, as well as ecumenical and interfaith congregations and leaders locally to our campus. Desta has served for over 25 years in Lutheran outdoor ministry, congregational youth ministry and served on the staff of the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA. She is married to an ELCA Pastor and they have 3 children. Desta has been shaped by Cal Lutheran (1996 alum), Lutheran outdoor ministry, Holden Village and the diversity of Southern California. She cares deeply about the church and its leaders. She is invested in spiritual transformation, anti-racism, the Enneagram and healing from trauma in community.

The Rev. Dr. Ray Pickett

Co-Director

Raymond Pickett is the Rector of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminar and a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has been a professor of New Testament for more than twenty years. He came to PLTS from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he was professor of New Testament. As a pastor he served congregations in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Manhattan, Kansas.

In addition to teaching New Testament, Dr. Pickett has also been involved in faith-rooted community organizing in various contexts. He has been working with a national group of ELCA leaders who are creatively adapting the arts of community organizing to engage the larger community around issues of racial equity and social justice. He also works with national community organizing networks in grounding the organizing practices in scripture.

Dr. Pickett is deeply committed to forming faithful leaders equipped to mobilize individuals and communities of faith to make a difference in the world by taking risks, collaborating with others, and acting on our faith to make a difference in our communities. He is energized by the challenge of preparing leaders for a diverse, highly secularized West Coast context for a changing Church and complex world and sees it as an opportunity to strengthen the public witness of the church by making theological education more contextual and incorporating practices and strategies for engaging the world.

Nicolette Rohr

Cohort Coordinator

Nicolette Rohr served as the Lay Leader Cohort Leader in the first year of Thriving Leadership Formation. She is a member of Eden Lutheran Church in Riverside, California and currently serves as Vice President of Pacifica Synod. Although she grew up in the Lutheran church and is the granddaughter of a Lutheran pastor, her role in the church has been unexpected and always interesting. She cares about collaborations in ministry, developing cultures of prayer and spiritual practices, especially among non-rostered leaders, and creating more spaces for contemplation, vulnerability, and compassion, like those offered by TLF. Professionally, Nicolette holds a Ph.D. in History and M.A. in Public History from the University of California, Riverside and has worked on a range of preservation, museum, and community history projects, along with teaching courses in U.S. history, the history of the 1960s, and the history of rock music.

Laura Castle McCullough

Program Specialist

Upon serving for a year in the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program in South Africa, Laura was drawn to ministry in non-profit and higher education settings. Through her work with Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of MN -Twin Cities and Lutheran Social Service of MN, she experienced how transformative intentional communities can be for social change and spiritual growth. She holds a Masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Virginia Tech, where she served in positions with Global Education, Residence Life, and the International Center. Laura is passionate about teaching courses on interfaith leadership and intercultural development for faculty, staff, and faith community leaders. She has been formed by intergenerational communities and outdoor ministries and seeks to create accessible and inclusive spaces for others to grow in their spiritual development. In addition to her work with TLF, she serves as the Associate Director of Donor and Community Engagement with Holden Village in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington.

Contact Us

Phone: (805) 493-3576

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