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Three women receive Katie Cannon Scholarship


Inaugural scholarship recipients will each receive up to $1,500

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon delivers the keynote lecture at the 2017 Women in Ministry Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary)

LOUISVILLE — Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries last week announced the 2019 recipients of the Rev Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon Scholarship.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency established the scholarship to honor Cannon’s name and legacy shortly after her death in August of 2018. The scholarship supports Presbyterian clergywomen and college women of color as well as other women of color with opportunities for leadership and spiritual development, helping women to develop leadership gifts and be equipped for even greater service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

Cannon was a pioneer and a legendary figure in the PC(USA). In 1974, she became the first African American woman ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the former United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Nine years later she became the first African American to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She served as the Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and as a minister member of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

A leading voice in the fields of womanist theology and women in religion and society, Cannon was a renowned lecturer on theological and ethical topics and the author or editor of numerous articles and seven books, including “Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Communityand “Black Womanist Ethics.”

The Katie Cannon Scholarship sponsored by the Women’s Ministry Fund provides qualified applicants up to $1,500 for expenses for leadership development in the United States.

The inaugural scholarship recipients include the Rev. Zaida Rodriquez, a Hispanic clergywoman currently serving as a chaplain in Raleigh, N.C. Rodriquez will use her scholarship for a Chaplaincy Research Summer Institute held by the nation’s top chaplain academics. Rodriguez was admitted into this program, which is hosted by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She said the research program will help her acquire the necessary research skills to create written materials in both English and Spanish to benefit pastors and lay leaders in their pastoral care for the sick and their families.

Dana Purdom, a bi-vocational African American leader in the Presbyterian Church, is passionate about social justice and continuing her preparation through education that focuses on addressing systemic injustices and understanding intersectional issues. She will use her scholarship to cover a portion of her tuition expenses at Union Theological Seminary. Purdom said, “I wish to engage and cultivate necessary prophetic voices and theories for teaching and equipping communities for justice and advocacy ministries, especially those that address systemic injustices perpetuating the intersectionalities of racist and economic struggles that directly impact children.”

The Rev. Ngochuong “Cedar” Dang is the senior pastor at The Vietnamese Presbyterian Church in Garden Grove, California. Dang will use her scholarship to cover tuition cost as she furthers her education at New Theological Seminary of the West. Like Cannon, Dang is a pioneer in that she is the first woman to be installed as senior minister of a Vietnamese-language congregation in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “Through this program I can cultivate the ability to be a reflective practitioner in ministry through interrelating theory and practice,” she said.

“The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon is an important part of the landscape and contemporary history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” said the Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. “Katie was a mentor and a colleague. She was also a role model, breaking ground and providing opportunities for women of color to lead in ministry positions in the PC(USA).”

“That is why these scholarships in honor of Dr. Cannon are meaningful to so many of us,” Hunter said. “Women of color, clergywomen, and other women will continue to be provided with opportunities to attend national and regional church events, further their education, connect with others like themselves, network with those who are involved in searches and nominations processes, and be equipped for ministry. This work is some of the work that Katie did, so her legacy continues. And she continues to live in our hearts. I am forever grateful for the witness and ministry of Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon.”

Your gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering provide leadership development opportunities and help Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color provide quality education for our future leaders.

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