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Director’s Message


Spring has definitely sprung around the denomination. There is much activity buzzing — from those standing for nominations to those graduating from institutions of higher learning to those preparing for our 226th General Assembly to those trying to discern how to navigate a new season of a bustling, warm wealth of parish activity. In many ways, it feels like the church is very much alive and well. In times like these, I often think about how we can focus our attention in a divided way between the excitement and possibilities of what can be and the realities of what some of us are facing.

I say this because I was empowered this spring by the joy of the newness felt in the investiture of Dr. Yolanda Page as the new president of Stillman College and the excitement as I joined the Rev. Moongil Cho and our Korean siblings at the National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches gathering in South Korea. Oh, the possibilities of what the Lord is up to in both convenings amaze me and remind me that the joy of the Lord swirls around our denomination in so many ways. I also have energy around the power of the Indigenous siblings who gathered with the Rev. Irv Porter and the World Communion of Reformed Churches last week and the intersectional conversations being led by Samantha Davis from our ministry area in Panama this spring in partnership with Self-Development of People. Yes, there are many ways that God is at work in the life of the church and this denomination.

However, there is still work to be done. While there is much to celebrate, there are many who may also see much to continue to pray for as communities of marginalized siblings still struggle. In particular, this spring, my attention has been directed toward the concerns of many of the women in our denomination who still face equity issues in pay, opportunities and their reproductive health care. As we uplift and celebrate the gifts of women at the General Assembly, we cannot negate the dichotomy that some feel there is a persistent erasure happening to the inalienable rights of the same group within this country in which we live. And while some may say there is a separation of both country and faith, there can be no separation of care and concern for what is truly justice for one and all.

I am also keenly aware of the rising gap between what is considered survival and what poverty is in our country, and who that disproportionately affects. We must constantly be reminded that the wealth gap is always the concern of the church and the work of the ministry. When we begin to believe we can turn a blind eye to the economic suffering of our siblings next door, we begin to pull further away from the gospel that compels us daily. Even though Jesus admonishes us that the poor will always be with us, that does not mean we are not called to address this growing epidemic and to do our best to rectify it in some way. This especially concerns me as the director of RE&WIM because this is an issue that adversely affects people of color and LGBTQIA+ people at higher rates. Many of our churches and leaders are doing well post-pandemic and are flourishing. However, many are still discerning what the future may hold.

So, as spring continues to burst forth and possibilities abound, let our prayers lead us both in the direction of thanksgiving for the abundance of blessings of the season as well as mercy for those who continue to persevere despite the adversity of this day.

“Oh Lord, you are our strength and our redeemer.” — Psalm 19:14


The Rev. Shanea D. Leonard
Director, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries