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Dr. Cynthia Hale: Shaped For Significance, Designed For Excellence

"The spirit of excellence" is a phrase or mantra that has become very popular over the last decade, particularly in the Body of Christ. We often hear it when we see or experience the gifts or talents of someone who remarkably supersedes the norm or standard we've come to expect. Particularly against the backdrop of mediocrity, excellence outshines the undisciplined, unfocused, and unmotivated while highlighting the highest quality of achievement, symmetry, and precision amidst those inspired not by merely "doing something," but "doing something better than it has ever been done before," especially as it pertains to service offerings unto the Lord. Hence, it would suffice to ask, "What truly defines the 'spirit of excellence?'" "Can it be taught or mentored?" "What is the significance of operating in the 'spirit of excellence' especially in ministry?" Find out inside...

Dr. Cynthia HaleDr. Cynthia Hale: Shaped For Significance, Designed For Excellence!


Written by Rev. Nichelle Early

"The spirit of excellence" is a phrase or mantra that has become very popular over the last decade, particularly in the Body of Christ. We often hear it when we see or experience the gifts or talents of someone who remarkably supersedes the norm or standard we've come to expect.  Particularly against the backdrop of mediocrity, excellence outshines the undisciplined, unfocused, and unmotivated while highlighting the highest quality of achievement, symmetry, and precision amidst those inspired not by merely "doing something," but "doing something better than it has ever been done before," especially as it pertains to service offerings unto the Lord.

Accordingly, given the current landscape of many organizations and entities, it is conceivable that many people may not truly understand exactly what the "spirit of excellence" is, or the inner-workings of its operation upon them or within them. Hence, it would suffice to ask, "What truly defines the 'spirit of excellence?'" "Can it be taught or mentored?" "What is the significance of operating in the 'spirit of excellence' especially in ministry?"

PreachingWoman.com was favored with the exclusive opportunity to speak one on one with Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, founding and Senior Pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia. She graciously accepted our request to be celebrated and featured on PreachingWoman.com and share with us her perspective regarding the 'spirit of excellence' while providing us with some basic principles on how to exhibit it in all that we do, especially as unto the Lord!


Known for her dazzling smile and exuberant personality, Dr. Hale is one of the most beautiful, kind, and gracious people you could ever meet. Revered nationally and internationally for her leadership, integrity, and compassion, she is woman of vision, purpose and stewardship.

Dr. Hale personally cherishes the awesome responsibility God has given her to pastor, encourage, and inspire others towards greatness and excellence. She has been blessed with an extraordinary gifting to preach the Gospel in a relevant, systematic, and harmonious way, fascinating and luring listeners toward a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Having been in ministry for 31 years, Dr. Hale's ministerial gift has drawn thousands, young and old, to witness the anointing of a woman totally sold out for the Kingdom of God.  She has traveled abroad preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing the "Good News" in Africa, Australia, Europe, the Caribbean, and South America.        

Dr. Cynthia HaleA native of Roanoke, VA, Dr. Hale's ascent in ministry did not initiate behind the pulpit. Her natural love and talent in music led her to study at Hollins College in Virginia, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis in classical music. However, as she continued her studies and aspirations toward a future in the operatic genre, Dr. Hale began to sense the call of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, she continued her education and obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University while simultaneously serving an intern to minister residency at Staunton Memorial Church in Pittsboro, NC. She further supplemented her call to ministry by serving as a Chaplain for two federal correctional facilities. Later Dr. Hale would receive her Doctor of Ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH.

In 1986, God further confirmed His call upon Dr. Hale's life regarding the Gospel ministry. She was formally commissioned Pastor/Developer of the Ray of Hope Christian Church by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Denomination. To date with Dr. Hale at its helm, the Ray of Hope Christian Church has grown by leaps and bounds and has been honored by the 700 Club as Church of the Week and has also been recognized in the book, excellent Protestant Congregations: Guide to Best Places and Practices, as one of 300 excellent Protestant congregations in the United States of America.

Being recognized as an excellent church is not only a great honor, but it says a lot about the pastor, and most importantly, the person serving as the pastor. Therefore, PreachingWoman.com's founder, Rev. Nichelle Early (NE), enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Dr. Hale (CH) about the 'spirit of excellence,' mentoring, and the significance of the both wants to share the conversation with you!

NE: Dr. Hale, thank you so much for speaking with me today, I am honored to have this opportunity.

CH: Thank you, Nichelle, and I want you to know I too, am honored...

NE: Dr. Hale, I understand you are the Senior Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA, however, you also have an itinerant ministry. Please share the mission or vision of your personal ministry.

CH: Overall, I believe the mission and vision of my personal ministry is to impact people's lives and change their world for the better. Whether it is through mentoring I've established a mentoring Program known as Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc.; or, through pastoring the Ray of Hope Christian Church; conducting one on one sessions with people; or, by any means God gives me. My mission is to help people become the best they can be and help them get to where God is calling and taking them. My vision is to assist men, women, boys, and girls in having a relationship with Jesus Christ; helping them to understand their purpose, and passionately pursue it...

Dr. Cynthia HaleNE:  Now, Dr. Hale, I understand the Ray of Hope Christian Church was recognized as one of 300 excellent Protestant congregations in the United States. Will you please share your heart concerning the spirit of excellence in ministry and the necessity to operate under its influence in ministry?

CH: Thank you for asking that question. The spirit of excellence is the guiding star of my life and ministry, because it is of God and it comes from God. We serve an excellent God, and I believe that we must be to people, and for people, everything that God is. God is excellent and we should strive towards excellence in all that we do for Him...

Today ministries are made up of professional people and high achievers, and they expect a standard of excellence. Therefore, the church has to set the standard...

A while ago, our church did a study based upon a book called, The Five Star Church [Stan Toler and Alan Nelson, 1999]. The book teaches how to transform your church based upon the model that Jesus taught by exemplifying excellence in several areas to include: evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship. And so our leadership went through the process; we read the book and did the teaching...

Excellence is the only thing we should give God and the people of God. We should be excellent in our administration, vision, mission, giving, and more. So, we looked at every area of our ministry and raised the standard. And, to be honest, it is a constant process to get there and stay there. One of the things that really concern me is our inconsistency in representing God in excellence. We must strive for excellence in our witness, verbally/non-verbally, in our presentation and in every area. We must present a sharp, stylistic representation of who God is through every endeavor. My heart is to represent God so much so that people will know how excellent, majestic, and awesome He is...

NE: Amen! ...Dr. Hale it is certainly evident when looking at your life, personal ministry, and church, that you truly are a woman of vision and excellence. You're not just talking; you actually practice and live what we are talking about.

So to that end, can you please discuss three guiding principles that you live by in order to execute the vision and excellence of your ministry?

Dr. Cynthia HaleCH:  Yes, [a few principles are as follows:]

  • Love and worship God - When it comes to excellence, God is the standard.
  • Do not compromise - I have personally and publicly set a standard to not compromise in any way. I sometimes fall short, but the standard must be met.
  • Be willing to pour yourself out so that others can come up to the standard - We must model excellence for people. We do that through walking with them and helping them to clearly understand what the model is. The model is God, so we must be full of God and willing to lend ourselves to assist people in pursuing God and His standard. We must be willing to mentor and help people achieve for their own lives everything that God has for them.

NE: Well, Dr. Hale, let's transition, just a little bit. As a musician myself, I must ask you about your love for music. What transition, if any, from music to ministry did you have to endure?

CH: You know, I have always loved to sing. I had a nice voice and I sang in the choir and for other opportunities...So I went to college and majored in music and became a classically trained vocalist. My plan was to sing in the opera. However, when the Lord called me, right before graduate school, I had to tell my professor I was no longer going to pursue music. He was devastated. But, I never stopped singing; in fact, I can't imagine what it would mean to quit signing. So, when I started to pastor, I would still sing. However, it became more and more taxing to do so, being that my focus was on developing the ministry, my sermons, bible studies and other ministry matters. So eventually, I had to let go in the music area and face that fact that music was no longer my primary gift. And when I did that, I began to depend more on the people who were solely called to music and I focused more on the work on the ministry.

NE: So, Dr. Hale, what role do you believe music plays as it pertains to offering excellent worship to God?

CH: Music is important because I believe it provides the platform for the Spirit of God to prepare the hearts of the people for the planting of the Word of God. Music offered in excellence can usher the people into praise and worship and cause healing, freeing, and refreshing.  It is so important to offer an excellent worship experience and music offering to God and to the people of God. Furthermore, we must train our people, and our musicians to provide music ministry in excellence.  And, we must be willing to pay people for their music abilities and service offerings. I rely strongly on the music ministry to set the atmosphere before I preach so I believe firmly in recognizing their gifts, talents, and contributions to the worship experience.

NE: I totally agree, music moves the heart of God and His people.

Dr. Hale, you established a mentoring program known as Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc. Please share a little about that ministry.

CH: Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc. is a mentoring program that I established for pastors and para-church leaders. I started out mentoring a friend. She had just become a pastor and felt like she didn't know what she was doing. So, I told her I would help her. For me, when I started, there were not a lot of women pastors that I could go to so I had to learn along the way. However, later, I had lunch with another lady and she too desired mentoring. So I asked my friend if we could add someone else and she said yes. More and more people began to come until the point I started to formalized the mentoring process into Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc. People can apply through our application process.  Once a year, we have a retreat. People fly in from all over the country to participate. We talk about preaching, developing ministries, mission and vision, leadership, external church activities, developing music ministries, and more. We talk about anything that will help pastors be successful.

NE: Wow! I certainly can appreciate that as it's very similar to some of the information we offer here at PreachingWoman.com!

Dr. Cynthia L. HaleDr. Hale, you are widely recognized as an advocate for women in ministry. How important do you believe it is for women to be mentored in the 21st century?

CH: It is critical. Again, when I went into ministry, there were no models. I was in ministry for about 10 years and then God began to bless me with great women friends in ministry, such as Dr. Elaine Flake, Dr. Jo Ann Browning, Dr. Renita Weems, and others. They helped me learn how to be a woman in ministry as well as conduct my business and my pleasure while in ministry.  I've learned many lessons, some good and some not so good; and it's through those lessons that you learn the importance of giving back.  God has blessed me, and I realize that we all need someone that will affirm or legitimize our feelings, questions, insecurities, whether real or not; you need someone to teach you how to accept and find your own voice. And often times, when it comes to mentoring, it's not always necessarily done in person. Sometimes it's over the phone and at times even by text...However you provide or receive it, mentoring is critical... Mentoring is sharing your own experience with someone else; it's feeling, believing, and thinking about what others are experiencing in order to help them become their personal best. And, when it comes to mentoring we need the Holy Spirit to confront, challenge, and move us to the next level; and as humans that are able to embody the Holy Spirit, we also through mentoring must be led by Him to sometimes confront, challenge and help our mentees move to the next level.

NE: Dr. Hale, that is an awesome over view of mentoring. You are right, every woman needs a mentor, especially in ministry.

In January 2010, you authored your first book entitled: I'm A Piece of Work: Sisters Shaped by God.  Please share with us a little bit about the book and its core message.

I'm A Piece of Work by Dr. Cynthia HaleCH: Well Nichelle, the book is a chronicle of my life and my former challenges with low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, and other issues. And, the book was written to give women the courage to be themselves! It deals with different areas of our lives; it encourages single women; I talk about developing our bodies; understanding who we are and so much more. Each chapter is based upon a biblical woman or scripture passage in order to help women understand that we are God's workmanship, created unto good works in order to make a difference. We are shaped for significance, service, sisterhood, and more. The book actually took me about 18 years to develop its chapters and teachings. The chapters started about as individual lessons or studies. So when I was asked if I was willing to write a book, the book was really already written.

NE: That is awesome, and I want to encourage every woman to get that book right away!

Dr. Hale, I know your time is precious, so as a last question, what do you believe God is saying in this hour?

CH: I believe that God is calling us to greater faithfulness. There is so much violence, sexism, racism, classism, and other social issues prevalent among and God is calling upon the church to set a great standard. He doesn't want us just to "talk the talk," or "walk the walk," God wants us to share what He is giving us in order for us to be a blessing to the world for His glory. Really, He wants us to "put up, or shut up!"

NE: That is so true, and by knowing we are shaped for significance and designed in excellence, we are well positioned and prepared to do all that God is calling us to do now! Dr. Hale, thank you for accepting this interview, it has truly been my pleasure.

CH: Nichelle, thank you...!

Dr. Cynthia L. Hale truly is an example of a woman flowing with the 'spirit of excellence' upon her life and she undeniably lives "the talk and the walk." She sits on various boards such as the Board of Trustees at Hollins University, she serves as Interim Chair of the Board of Directors at Beulah Heights University, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the City of Hope Ministries, Inc., and she has been elected to the office of Assistant Secretary for the Hampton Ministers' Conference. 

Dr. Cynthia L. HaleAmidst her humble spirit and constant "giving back" through pastoring, mentoring, board work, missions, and volunteerism, Dr. Hale has received numerous honors, recognitions, and accolades. She was inducted into the African American Biographies Hall of Fame and the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers of Morehouse College.  Selected by Senator Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, Dr. Hale gave the opening invocation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  She also served as Co-Chair for "Women in Ministry for Obama."  Dr. Hale attended the Inauguration for President Barack Obama and read scripture during the Inaugural Interfaith Prayer Service, which was held at the National Cathedral. In July 2009, Dr. Hale was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. In addition, she is honored to be an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  

Today, PreachingWoman.com celebrates and salutes Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, for her excellence in Spirit, life, and ministry!