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Leaders of color mentoring event concludes with renewed commitment to relationships


Attendees encouraged to ‘listen with a purpose’ as they engage in mentorship

by Gregg Brekke | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Arthur (A.C.) Canada preached during a service of communion at the Mentoring Event for Leaders of Color in Pastoral Ministry conference. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

ZEPHYR POINT, Nevada — On a day that began with a snowstorm and ended with sunny skies, the 18 pastors gathered at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center on Lake Tahoe for the Mentoring Event for Leaders of Color in Pastoral Ministry found inspiration in training and continued relationship building during Tuesday’s sessions.

Anisha Hackney, a member of the Human Resources staff at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, presented a session on Human Resources Management that focused attention on the unique needs of persons of color in the interview and candidacy process, and potential pitfalls introduced by systemic racism.

“People in the dominant culture are recruited on their potential performance and assessed on their progress toward stated goals,” she said. “Marginalized persons are judged on proving their abilities and credentials.”

Speaking on church-based and missional goals, she continued, “As an organization we must put performance measures in place, but we must make sure they aren’t perpetuating tools of oppression.”

Anisha Hackney, a member of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Human Resources staff, offered six key performance management measures that help recognize diversity. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Hackney outlined six key performance management measures that are most effective in today’s workplace that recognize diversity and uphold a high standard of relationship-based improvement and progress.

  • See the body and its many parts (I Corinthians 12).
  • Know the ‘why’ — what motivates people?
  • Engage in radical candor using the HHIPP acronym – humble, helpful, immediate, personal and private.
  • Continuous — not cyclical — evaluation and feedback.
  • Managers sponsor and advocate for their employees.
  • Keep in mind the Gospel of the Kingdom advancement and principles.

The Rev. Wendy Tajima, Executive Presbyter in the Presbytery of San Gabriel, offered a workshop on preparing for the executive interview. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

The Rev. Wendy Tajima, Executive Presbyter in the Presbytery of San Gabriel, presented a workshop on preparing for an executive interview. Designed as a resource to help candidates ready themselves to interview for positions on presbytery and synod staff and national office positions, she reminded participants that executive searches involve strategies different from those of other positions. She said highlighting “competencies, experience perspectives, connections and access or connections” are important measures of success in this type of search process.

Commenting on the availability of such positions, Hackney added there are currently 35 open and posted positions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offices, not including those listed separately by the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation.

Returning to the functional work of the mentoring program, Jewel McRae, Associate for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries, emphasized the “build and sustain” aspects of relationships that allow mentor and mentee to be present with one another at critical times.

“Sometimes you have to take criticism in your development,” she said, “because someone is encouraging and supporting you, but they also want you to grow into the best person you can be. It gives meaning and purpose to God’s call on your life.”

The Rev. Arthur (A.C.) Canada preached during the evening worship service of communion. He gave the example of his preparation as a counselor and a mock therapy session where his professor chastised, “Mr. Canada, you do not know how to listen.”

An important lesson for Canada, he expounded on the call of Samuel by God in 1 Samuel 3, saying that over time he learned to “listen with purpose.”

“I failed to listen to my role-playing partner a number of years ago, but I’ve attempted to correct that,” he said. “We as mentors and mentees must allow the revelation of the Holy Spirit to provide the guidance in hearing and understanding one other.”

Sponsored by Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM) of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the program is a partner initiative to the ministry’s Leadership Institutes that have trained more than 750 racially diverse, new immigrant and women leaders throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).



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