Today’s guest is Erin Hayes-Cook, a Presbyterian minister based in Rahway, New Jersey – a short commute away from New York City. I’ve known Erin for about two decades now, and I was interested to get back in touch to hear about some of her current work around building resilience in her congregation’s spiritual lives as well as the broader community during these wearying times. In this conversation, we explore marking time through rituals, creating space to meet with God, and poetry as a creative process in understanding who we are. Serendipitously, this podcast coincided perfectly with the launch of Erin’s new project River of Resilience, which offers practices in resilience for people of color traumatized by racism. Through this project, Erin seeks ways to offer healing for people whose bodies, minds and spirits have been affected not only by the pandemic but by the pervasive racism that has been all the more exposed in this past year.
In January of 2013 Rev. Hayes-Cook accepted the call to be the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Rahway, New Jersey. She has served First Rahway for 8 years as the first woman of color to pastor the community in its 275 year history. Gaining great joy in walking alongside the diverse community she serves through her local presbytery and synod, she looks forward to the the River of Resilience initiative to help offer healing practices in the face of racism. Rev. Hayes-Cook and her husband Lawrence welcomed their first child in June of 2019. She loves a good cup of coffee, writing, and working out with her Crossfit community.