News from the Associate Executive Presbyter
WORKING TOGETHER FOR TRANSFORMATION
Have you got any life goals you are trying to pursue and just can't seem to move forward with them? Are you discerning the direction of your vocation and looking for ways to better consider your options? Do you have a committee or team within your congregation that is ready to tackle a new initiative or different path altogether? Then a trained coach may be just what you need...and I'm happy to help on behalf of the presbytery as a newly trained coach!
Over the past six months, myself, Rev. Erika Rembert Smith, Pastor, and Larry Colleton, Ruling Elder, Washington Shores Presbyterian, have been participating in a brand new coaching training opportunity offered by NextChurch in partnership with CAST (Coach Approach Skill Training) and Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training. The cohort of about 26 people included a nearly equal blend of People of Color and People of White (as one of our Crossroads facilitators Jessica Vazquez Torres referred to the group). It was quite an adventure being part of this new endeavor that trained us to approach coaching through an antiracism lens.
The foundation of Co-Active coaching is that the coach and coachee relationship "is chiefly about discovery, awareness, and choice...empowering people to find their own answers, encouraging and supporting them on the path as they continue to make important choices." (Kimsey-House, 2018, p. xvi) And the underlying assumption is that the coachee is responsible for coming up with their own choices about the topics on which they want to be coached and the directions and steps they commit to take to move toward their goals. In effect, the coach is there to challenge and encourage the coachee in bringing about change in her or his own life.
In one of my practice sessions, my coachee explained to me a practice she was hoping to move toward, and then she asked me directly what she had to do to accomplish it. I proceeded to explain that it wasn't my role as her coach to tell her what to do, that I would help her discover what she wanted and would commit to do to move forward.
Learning how we might approach coaching through an antiracism lens was a bit more challenging. Early on, a training demo done for us trainees included what we thought was a perfect example of a situation that could have been addressed by the coach through an anti-racism lens. It was our first bump in the road as the coaching trainers said they wanted to teach us coaching methods first and then help us to integrate the antiracism lens a little later in our training. Many of us trainees would have liked to have seen the coaching through an antiracism lens in action right then.
We did have antiracism training by Crossroads throughout the process. Where I have landed on the integration of coaching and antiracism practice, especially for me as white coach, is the importance for me to carry an awareness of the ways racial oppression for people of color and racial superiority for white people may manifest themselves. Then, I view it as my task as the coach to address these matters with the coachee, if they are open to it, when they arise in the course of the coaching sessions. I know I still have a lot of learning to do to enhance my awareness, but hope all my coaching will embody the practice of engaging through and antiracism lens.
Coaching is not a one-and-done relationship. It involves at least a several month commitment of meeting weekly in order to build a trusting and productive relationship. If you are interested in discussing coaching with me, please contact me at email@example.com or call me at the CFP Office 407-422-7125 x. 204. In future articles, Erika and Larry will have the opportunity to share how they hope to utilize their coaching training within the presbytery.
Associate Executive Presbyter
Dr. Cheryl Carson