by Rozella H. White
Creator, Consultant, and Cultural Curator with LEAD
I would not be who I am as a leader today without LEAD. Specifically, I wouldn’t be who I am without Peggy Hahn and her God-given vision and passion for leadership development. Now let me be clear. This isn’t the leadership development of days’ past; the kind that was more focused on skills than on adaptive change. I’m talking about soul-shaking, earth-shattering, change-making, transformational leadership that changes the leader, changes those in their circle of influence, and deeply engages the world around them.
I am a product of some of LEAD’s best thinking. Before this organization began, I was a young person in the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, a synod that was dedicated to youth leadership development, support, and uplift. I was nurtured into leadership by my home congregation, a black lutheran church in Houston’s historic Third Ward community. I served on youth leadership teams, attended synod youth events, went to summer camp, later served on camp staff, and began my career in ministry as a 21-year-old on synod staff as the coordinator for youth ministry alongside Peggy Hahn. I’m very clear that I served under Peggy’s MENTORSHIP and not merely her leadership because that’s how Peggy leads. She is a woman after God’s own heart; striving to create, connect, and coach into existence God’s beloved community right here on earth. And to be clear, this isn’t a lovey-dovey endeavor. This is a mind, body, heart, and soul undertaking; a holistic dive into new life and new ways of being that come when we connect with who God is and what God desires for all creation.
I’ll say it again, I wouldn’t be who I am as a leader – with the passions, gifts, desire for faith-based justice and drive to change the world – without LEAD.
So it should come as no surprise then, that four years after LEAD’s inception and 10 years after my departure from Houston, I’ve returned home and I’m working with LEAD.
One of the first projects that I was asked to be a part of was the co-creation of the Work Out Guide, the fourth book in a series focused on inviting people of faith into meaningful relationships across dividing lines for the sake of engaging more deeply with who God is and how God calls us to act out our faith in the world.
As we plotted out this book and spent time reflecting on how we understand connection and relationship, it became very clear to me that we were working on something that has the potential to really change lives. I believe that all of LEAD’s resources are impactful, but the Work Out Guide does something that no other resource does – it cuts across theology, history, and sociology, inviting people to consider how they’ve been formed. Our thesis is that meaningful relationships that change lives and ultimately move us closer to God’s vision of the Beloved Community only happen when we work out our faith; when we stretch and expand and uncover ways of being that keep us from fully seeing ourselves and seeing each other. The Work Out Guide lays out a framework for moving through ways of knowing that keep us separate. We want to invite people to not only think about their faith, but to EMBODY their faith.
This is the kind of leadership I was invited into over 20 years ago. It’s the kind of leadership I’ve fallen in love with and it is my deepest desire that you consider how your leadership is formed, supported, and sustained. LEAD wants to be that organization, the one that empowers leaders, transforms faith communities, and influences the world. We hope you join us.