For a long weekend this fall, 28 seminarians from across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined with other church leaders to explore the changing landscape of ministry. 

This year’s Racial Ethnic & New Immigrant Seminarians’ Conference, held Oct. 24-27 on St. Simons Island, Georgia, added a focus on new immigrant seminarians.    

At the conference, racial ethnic and new immigrant seminarians engaged in a spiritual environment and vocational discernment. They learned more about the connectional church, received information about preparing for ordination exams, explored paths to ordination and heard about the rewards and challenges of being a new immigrant leader. Participants learned how to build and sustain meaningful relationships as part of their support system during seminary and in ministry. 

“Our hope each year is that this event helps seminarians feel more connected to the national church and to racial ethnic and new immigrant leaders across the PC(USA),” said Jewel McRae, associate for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries. “ We want these students to know that we understand some of the unique challenges and joys they face as racial ethnic and new immigrant seminarians and that we’ll do whatever we can to inspire, equip and connect them throughout their faith journey.” 

The annual conference has been sponsored continuously for 35 years by national church agencies of the PC(USA). It is now sponsored by Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.  Each year, seminarians from the 10 Presbyterian theological institutions and two Presbyterian-related seminaries attend the conference, which has now expanded to reach out to Presbyterian seminarians in non-PC(USA) institutions.                                              

All conference expenses are covered in full for each seminarian through the Sidney and Lillian Harris Fund. 

The event was coordinated and staffed by McRae and a planning team. McRae told the participants that the leadership team and denominational staff were there to support the seminarians. 

“We are here for you,” she said. “This is your conference, and we want you to benefit wholeheartedly from it. It is our hope that you will leave here Spirit-filled, renewed and inspired to pursue your call to ministry with passion and commitment.” 

“This was definitely a transformative journey for me,” said Jieun Kim Han, a conference attendees. “Through this conference, I was blessed to engage in deeper theological, intercultural and ministerial dimensions with fellow seminary students and denominational leaders. This conference provided a rich vantage point as we listened to each other’s voices from our varied contexts and perspectives. Being part of this has nurtured and stimulated me to articulate my emerging pastoral identity as a Korean American woman with a deeper and broader awareness.” 

If you would like to help support a seminarian to attend next year’s conference, please make your check payable to Presbyterian Mission Agency, fund #E051484, fund name Racial Ethnic Leadership Development. To learn more about the work of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, visit www.pcusa.org/racialethnic.