Today in the Mission Yearbook

‘Affirmed and supported’: Program helps church leaders hone skills


New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute provides support, guidance, inspiration

September 18, 2017

New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute attendees. (Photo provided)

Recent immigrants who serve as clergywomen found helpful guidance and encouraging contacts at the New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute last month in Daytona Beach, Florida. Female clergy from around the country gathered to collaborate and develop leadership skills to better serve their congregations and the church. Developed by PC(USA) Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries (RE&WM), Leadership Institutes are designed to help racial-ethnic, immigrant and women leaders strengthen skills and relationships, learn new ideas, be encouraged to expand personal comfort zones and receive inspiration, guidance and support from national church leaders and executives.

According to the Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, racial-ethnic and new immigrant congregations are growing and thriving in the PC(USA). As the church becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, she said, it’s important that church leaders also become more diverse.

“Statistics show that 38 percent of PC(USA) ordained clergy are women — the largest percentage in the history of the church,” said Hunter. “Women bring different leadership styles and gifts to ministry, and these styles and gifts are shaping the church’s future. We’re committed to developing leaders for the future, and the Leadership Institutes help nurture the racial-ethnic and women leaders who serve the church now and in the future.”

Leadership Institutes were established as a ministry of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries in 2010, with the first Racial Ethnic Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute held at Montreat Conference Center.

“We envision a world where women, new immigrants and racial-ethnic persons have an equal voice and fully participate in church and society,” Hunter added. “It is exciting and a privilege to join with gifted, new immigrant clergywomen in the PC(USA), see their accomplishments and journey with them in ministry. We have worked to create a spiritual environment at this Leadership Institute where relationships are created and deepened and where immigrant clergywomen are affirmed and supported in their vocations in leadership and ministry.”

One of the attendees at the inaugural Montreat event, the Rev. Dr. SanDawna Ashley, is the new presbytery executive for Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and served most recently as manager for call process support and teaching elders ministries with the Office of the General Assembly. She was a featured leader at this year’s event.

“The Leadership Institute connected me with key denominational leaders who were seeking women pastors who had a sense of call to ministry and administration positions; the event was an introduction into working for the larger church and navigating the systems of a larger denomination,” said Ashley. “Networking, vocational coaching and discernment are key components of the training provided, and I’ve continued to use the knowledge I’ve gained at the Leadership Institute to serve within the denomination.”

Ashley hopes this year’s attendees realize there are places for their gifts to be used in the larger church. “I also hope to identify individuals with the gifts and graces to fill key positions within the denomination,” she said. “The institute is designed to address hopes of what can be and to resource individuals with a strategy to make ministry dreams possible.”

Scott O’Neill, Communications Associate, Project Management, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Valéry Nodem, PMA                                                                                           
Clara Nunéz, PMA

Let us pray:

God of grace, be present with us as we celebrate your daughters who, with your help, have built communities that reflect your love. For women, young and old, who do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with you, O God, we give you thanks and praise. Give us your peace, which surpasses our understanding, and watch over our hearts and our minds as we rest in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 135; 145
First Reading 1 Kings 21:1-16
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 1:1-19
Gospel Reading Matthew 4:1-11
Evening Psalms 97; 112