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The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter announces plan to leave the Presbyterian Mission Agency

‘Serving has been a privilege, of which I am exceedingly grateful’

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter

LOUISVILLE — After serving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for more than 26 years, the Rev. Dr. Rhashell D. Hunter has announced her plan to leave the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). Hunter has served as the Director of the PMA’s Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM) for the last 14 years.  She will leave at the end of April.

“I have discerned through prayer to God that this call and ministry is completed,” she said.

“This serves as a bookend to my ministry at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, in a way, as I began this ministry after Easter many years ago.”

Hunter reflected fondly her journey to Louisville.

“I remember preaching at my church in Michigan,” Hunter said, “and then packing and moving to Louisville the week of Thunder Over Louisville.” Thunder Over Louisville is one of the nation’s largest fireworks show and is the kickoff event for the festivities leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

“I remember the excitement of the new call, and I am excited today as I start a new chapter in ministry,” Hunter said. “Serving Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries with our ministry partner Presbyterian Women, Inc., in the PC(USA) has been a privilege, of which I am exceedingly grateful.”

Hunter says that while experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic of racism, as well as the political and economic climate, she has rediscovered that life is, indeed, precious and sacred.

“I intend to continue to contribute to the common good in impactful ministry. I look forward with great anticipation and hope to all God has in store for Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries and for me in the next exciting chapter in God’s ministry,” Hunter said.

Prior to joining the PMA, Hunter broke ground while serving for nine years as the pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Flint, Michigan. She was the fifth installed pastor and the first and only African American and woman to serve as pastor in the 85-year history of the church.

She served also as the associate pastor for worship, music, and the arts at Fourth Presbyterian Church In Chicago. She is past Moderator of the The Synod of the Covenant and has served as adjunct faculty in homiletics at several Presbyterian seminaries across the country.

“I am so grateful for the leadership and vision Rhashell has provided for the Church and the RE&WIM,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA. “Her passion and commitment to developing Presbyterian leaders of color and particularly clergy women of color within the denomination are especially important and will impact the Church for generations to come.”

“The RE&WIM area is vitally important to our future as a Matthew 25 Church. I am deeply thankful for Rhashell’s many years of dedicated service to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and continue to hold her in prayer during this time of discernment,” Moffett said.

Moffett said the Rev. Denise Anderson will serve as acting director of RE&WIM while the PMA visioning process is completed. Anderson will be working with the RE&WIM leadership staff including Jewel McRae, coordinator for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries; Tim McCallister, coordinator for Mission Program Grants and Schools and Colleges Equipping Communities of Color; and Susan Jackson Dowd, executive director of Presbyterian Women Inc.

Commenting on Hunter’s contributions to the denomination, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), said, “Rhashell Hunter has served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) well in some very difficult times. She continued the work begun by individuals such as Otis Turner, Jim Reese, Rita Dixon, and others who sought to position our denomination for a significant ministry that would accommodate all people who would transition into United States citizens with a desire to commit to faith in Jesus Christ.”

“At every level of the church, she has been able to celebrate the gifts of preaching, teaching, and building a multicultural and pluralistic church. Rhashell has represented the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) well while exemplifying the teachings of her parents, who loved the Lord.”

Reflecting on his relationship with Hunter, the Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the Presbyterian Foundation, said, “I vividly remember meeting Rhashell about 15 years ago. I was immediately struck with her unusual combination of whimsicality, wit and wisdom.”

“Her values and commitments insightfully expressed special concerns for issues like diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially as those related to younger generations. In all her emphases, however, her deep love and commitment for Christ and the Church were always at the center,” he said.

Dowd also has a fond memory of Hunter. “In September 2014, Mary Jorgenson, then moderator of Presbyterian Women Inc., surprised Rhashell with a PW Honorary Life Membership during a Presbyterian Mission Agency Board meeting. Until she heard her name, Rhashell did not realize that Mary was describing her as she read the many reasons this person would receive this PW leadership honor.”

“Rhashell has quietly and not so quietly supported PW at PC(USA) tables for 14 years,” Dowd said. “She is a frequent and valued presence at PW tables, and a close and valued partner and staff colleague.”

Hunter has a love for preaching and a commitment to building bridges in intercultural communities.

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