The Benefits of Coaching
An interview with Rev. Dr. Marion Park
Marion Park is an Associate Pastor at Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, CA and has been serving there since 2002, thats 17 ½ years. She takes care of pastoral care as well as overseeing the educational ministry, deacons, teaches adult bible studies and has performed memorial services in her tenure.
“I came on when Grace First was being birthed and emerging as a new congregation. Exciting times, and it still continues to be exciting.”
Park is a PK raised in New Jersey who completed her seminary education at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1989. In 2013, she received her DMin from Columbia Seminary. In 2019, she attended the inaugural program of the Coaching Institute at Columbia Theological Seminary and discovered the coaching model to be especially beneficial to younger generations of pastors.
Coach vs. Mentor
The premise of coaching is that the solution already lies within. The fundamental belief is that a person is whole, creative, and resourceful. A Coach helps draw all of those things out of a person.
Mentoring operates on a different premise where the mentor is the expert.
Coaching helps them discover the right answer within them. By asking powerful questions and listening deeply to the answers, and then follow up with more questions, you can find the root of purpose and creative, insightful ideas. When a person gets stuck in their thoughts, they can’t see the forest through the trees. A Coach will help them see the bigger picture and help navigate the best way to find their own answers.
The Coaching Institute
“When I saw that CTS was initiating the Coaching Institute I knew I wanted to attend immediately. As a pastor, a lot of the way I approach ministry is to walk alongside people. It is a coaching approach, as opposed to mentoring.”
Last January, Park received a matching SCT Grant to attend the Coaching Institute at Columbia Seminary. The program consisted of 33 classroom hours onsite at Columbia and 27 hours of online coaching practicum which ended in July 2019.
Coaching it Forward
Park is now coaching in a few different areas in Los Ranchos Presbytery. As a former church planter, working with New Worshipping Communities is a natural fit. She works with the Korean American PCUSA Clergy Women Group where she coaches younger candidates and clergy persons. Marion has served on COM and used her coaching skills with leaders of Korean congregations in Los Ranchos Presbytery.
The coaching training has been helpful and useful as a pastor and a person. Park is looking forward to using this training into retirement (when that moment comes) as she hopes to coach at that time. She hasn’t always had someone to walk alongside her, and she wants to be intentional about helping through coaching.
Park believes in being trained in many facets; she wants to continue to learn and grow. Coaching is one of the ways she has done that. It has been a truly life-giving experience.