As Presbyterians seek to create spaces where diverse voices can seek God’s will together, one cultural default often stands in the way: implicit bias.

Confronting implicit bias — which the National Institutes of Health defines as “bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions and behaviors” — is the focus of the upcoming “Practicing Inclusion: A Leader Formation Webinar,” on October 13. The webinar, for ruling elders and deacons, will last from 7 p.m to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time. REGISTER HERE by October 5 to attend.

Leader Formation October 2022 Webinar Promo Graphic

In addition to showing how implicit bias impedes inclusion, equity and access, the webinar will discuss ways church leaders can reduce its impact in the decision-making processes of their congregations, including conversations related to discernment and church governance.

Read the full description here:

Jihyun Oh, Director of Mid Council Ministries (MCM) in the Office of the General Assembly, will lead the webinar. Prior to her work with MCM, Oh served congregations as interim pastor, associate pastor and parish associate. A qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), she seeks to “proactively imagine ways to bridge the gap between the Church that was and the Church that is and is still becoming” in the words of the webinar registration page.

Martha Miller, Manager of Ministry Education and Support in MCM, hosts the Leader Formation webinars.

She said that the webinar was partly inspired by the equity prime cards and other resources that became a topic of conversation during the 225th General Assembly. “Some committees used them extensively and others didn’t,’ Miller said. “But since GA we’ve heard from people asking if they could get the equity prime cards and other resources for their congregation to use.”

“I approached Jihyun about the idea, and she was very excited about it.”

Oh worked with the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and other GA planners to build inclusive bias education and resources into the GA225 experience. In the spring she provided leadership briefing training encouraging the use of equity primes by GA participants. 

“This is one step in the conversation about how to expand the use of equity primes and other resources,” Miller said, including future modification of Equip trainings for use at congregations and other councils. “But the webinar discussion will be about much more than how to access equity prime cards. It will be about how to understand the impact of implicit bias within congregations.”

The October 5 registration deadline is one way the webinar series is creating conversations that are accessible to a diverse range of leaders. Early registering helps the webinar team coordinate with Global Language Resources so that live interpretation in Spanish or Korean can be available for those requesting it.

In addition to hosting the webinars, Miller is one of two hosts for the new MCM podcast series “Along the Road”; she records and produces the shorter format “Nourish” episodes designed for ruling elders and deacons. Manuel Silva-Esterrich, Manager for Call Process Support in MCM, records and produces the longer format “Encounter” episodes, which have mid council leaders and staff in mind.

“The Leader Formation series is focusing for now on podcasts and webinars,” Miller said. “The simultaneous kickoff of Nourish with the timing of the upcoming webinar gives us the opportunity to engage with ruling elders and deacons through different but connected programming.”

Register for “Practicing Inclusion” by October 5 here. Learn more about Leader Formation here.