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Katie Cannon Scholarship available for Presbyterian women of color

Scholarship named for the famed educator is designed to address disparities

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

The deadline to apply for a scholarship named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon is June 1. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — The application period for the Katie Cannon Scholarship, sponsored by the Women’s Ministry Fund, remains open until June 1.

Eligible applicants include clergywomen and college women of color as well as other women of color. Awards up to $1,500 will be given to qualifying women for expenses for a leadership development event in the United States.

The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon was a foundational voice in womanist theology, which seeks to escape the white- and male-centered views of religion and ethics and to value the experiences and insights of Black women in those areas.

The scholarship provides funds to support eligible applicants with opportunities for leadership and spiritual development, helping women to develop leadership gifts and to be equipped for even greater service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon was a pioneer and legend in the PC(USA) and in so many theological circles in this country,” said Jewel McRae, coordinator for Women’s Leadership Development & Young Women’s Ministries in the Racial Equity &Women’s Intercultural Ministries at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “However, there continues to be disparities in this country and in the church for women of color. This scholarship is offered to help women of color gain opportunities in developing leadership skills that may assist in addressing some of these disparities.”

McRae called attention to two main findings from the 2016 Gender and Leadership in the PC(USA) study. “Findings of the study showed that gender discrimination is still pervasive within the PC(USA) and that almost half of the members are not particularly aware of it,” said McRae.

The study went on to say that eight out of 10 female teaching elders have experienced discrimination, harassment, and/or prejudicial comments due to their gender, and four out of 10 feel that they have experienced gender bias in hiring, promotion or selection for an official position within the PC(USA). Among the members of the church at large, 59 percent of women and 52 percent of men agree with the statement that “gender inequality is still a problem in the PC(USA).”

Another issue noted in the report was the responses given when participants were asked what type of leadership role they held. According to the report, more men than women said they held an official leadership role as opposed to an unofficial role. This difference remains even after excluding the responses of teaching elders. Another question asked, “To what extent are women accepted as leaders in the PC(USA)?” Findings showed that most Presbyterians feel men still have a better chance than women of being called to the position of senior pastor or head of staff.

“It is important that as a denomination we work to put an end to these disparities in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” said McRae. “As women we have the inner strength and power to achieve our goals and make a difference in our world.”

“I’m delighted to promote the Katie Geneva Cannon Scholarship fund and offer it to all women leaders of color in the Presbyterian Church who aspire to develop their gifts and skills for ministry,” McRae said. “Katie was an inspiration to me and a true scholar. I’m glad this scholarship can help so many women and we’re publicizing it during the Second Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership Conference in April. I was honored to attend the Inaugural Womanist Leadership Conference and spent time with Katie.”

To be eligible for a Katie Cannon scholarship, individuals must complete a scholarship application and provide supporting documentation. Applications will be reviewed by a staff team in Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM). The deadline for applications is June 1. Scholarships will be announced and disbursed by July 31.

The scholarship fund, found at Women’s Ministry Fund (E049991), is a fund of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Gifts in memory of Cannon can be made online or by mail. Those wishing to donate to the scholarship fund online should click here. To send a check, please make it payable to “Presbyterian Mission Agency” and write “in memory of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon – E049991” on the memo line. Please mail your gift to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

P.O. Box 643700

Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

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