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Mentoring event for leaders of color gathers at Zephyr Point

 

Program encourages relationships for successful pastoral ministry

by Gregg Brekke | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Alexandra Zareth, Associate for Leadership Development and Recruitment for Leaders of Color with Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, addresses a group of pastors gathered to engage in mentoring relationships. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

ZEPHYR POINT, Nevada — Eighteen pastors are gathered at the Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center on Lake Tahoe this week to engage in a program of mentoring that hopes to develop future leaders of the church while improving their skills for professional advancement and self-care.

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.).

In response to the denomination’s commitment to develop leaders for the future, the ministry’s programs focus on nurturing racially diverse, immigrant and women leaders who will serve the church today and in the future.

Designed as a systematic program to bring congregational teaching elders in their second or third calls together with mentors who have 10 or more years of ministry experience in the PC(USA), the pairings of mentor and mentee were introduced to one another when they arrived on Sunday. On Monday the pairs met for two hours to begin designing the program of mentoring they will undertake via face-to-face meetings, phone calls, video conferencing and other electronic means.

In addition to receiving spiritual, career and ministry guidance from their mentor, all participants will attend five webinars over the next 15 months, culminating in an August 2020 in-person wrap-up event in Louisville.

On Sunday and Monday, participants engaged in worship and fellowship and attended workshops on Relational Mentoring, Effective Mentoring and Self-Care and Time Management in addition to sharing expectations and goals of the mentoring relationship.

Differentiating the program from coaching or training, leaders emphasized the mentoring relationships are long-term volunteer efforts in which the mentee is supported and guided in personal growth rather than a coach-directed plan that addresses performance issues or imparts new skills.

The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, preached during Sunday worship. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director of RE&WIM, preached during Sunday’s opening worship. Anchored in 1 Corinthians 12:4-13 and Psalm 23, the points of her message echoed the eighth ordination question for pastors in the PC(USA), which asks if leaders will serve God and the church with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.

“Our job as pastors is to preach the good news of Jesus Christ,” she said, expounding on what this job entails in light of these ordination promises. “Our job as pastors of color is to value God’s people – different hues, different shades, different languages and from different nations.”

Workshop and panel discussions explored the importance of the relationships and tools pastors cultivate to be effective ministers, including prayer and support teams, mentors, physical care and sabbath practices.

Pastors attending a mentoring program at Zephyr Point, Nevada, gathered to sing hymns during worship. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

“The most rewarding part of the event is to watch what happens when participants feel safe and comfortable in the space,” said the Rev. Alexandra Zareth, Associate for Leadership Development and Recruitment for Leaders of Color in RE&WIM. “Now that they’ve been together for a little bit you can see them hungering for more time together and more honest conversations.

“They’re taking about things they don’t know who else to talk to about and uncovering a lot of honest things and receiving a lot of good advice from one another. It’s mutually empowering.”

The mentoring event for leaders of color serving in pastoral ministry continues through Wednesday.

A brief history of PC(USA) Leadership Institutes

Leadership Institutes were established in 2010. Twelve leadership institutes have been held since their founding, including:

  • The Racial Ethnic Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute, September 2010
  • The Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute/Young Women’s Leadership Development Event at the Big Tent, July 2011
  • The African American Executive Leadership Seminar, August 2011
  • The African American Mentoring Event, April 2013
  • The Young Adult New Immigrant Leadership Institute, October 2013
  • Concluding Reception of the Year-Long African American Mentoring Program, June 2014
  • Pan Asian English Ministry Pastors Conference, June 2014
  • Women’s Leadership Institute/Young Women’s Leadership Development Event, June 2014
  • Racial Ethnic Executive Leadership Institute, August 2015
  • Native American Leadership Development Event, November 2015
  • Racial Ethnic Executive Leadership Institute (Canada), October 2016
  • African American Consultation, September 2016

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