Though Rev. Alexandra Zareth, MDiv ’08, didn’t realize it at the time, her calling to ministry began when she was still quite young, growing up along the US-Mexico border. She lived close to a bridge that connected the two countries, and while Zareth was able to cross the bridge, she knew others who couldn’t. She was also bilingual in a community of Spanish speakers. By the time she reached her teenage years, she recognized these privileges as a responsibility. And, while she welcomed that responsibility, she wasn’t yet sure how to make the most of it.
At Princeton Theological Seminary, Zareth remained unsure of how to respond to the call. She grew up Catholic and, though she has since joined the Presbyterian Church (USA), she didn’t see ministry as a viable pathway for herself since all the church leaders of her youth were male. “Seeing women leaders in the church was so transformative, and opened my eyes to the options that were out there for me,” she says. Soon, it became clear how she was to put her gifts to work. “I wanted to help others have that same realization,” she says, “that there are options.”
Today, Zareth works in the Office of Leadership Development and Recruitment for Leaders of Color at the Presbyterian Mission, where she promotes leadership and growth opportunities. “A lot of our leaders of color are in the trenches, and they don’t know what’s available to them because they’re so busy,” she says. For example, they may not know there are grants available to pay for programming or even a sabbatical. Or they may not be aware of conferences or other events that can help them evolve their ministry. That’s where Zareth steps in.
“The goal is to expose leaders to different ways of serving,” she explains. “I gather leaders, establish relationships, and put together programming. I make connections.” Some of her programs include retreats for clergy, mentoring programs for pastors, conference trips, or events for specific populations like new immigrant pastors or pastors under age 50.
“Jesus made connections between people and with the institutions around them,” she says. “How can I follow this example? I’m not providing anything out of the ordinary, but I am providing support, connections, and even something as simple as a phone call. I believe I am called to be a bridge.”