Two 2020 Katie Cannon Scholarship award recipients named

Women of color are provided leadership development opportunities through the scholarship

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

the Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon

LOUISVILLE — Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries has announced the 2020 recipients of the Rev Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon Scholarship.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency established the scholarship to honor Cannon’s name and legacy following her death in August 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.)

Sponsored by the Women’s Ministry Fund, the scholarship provides qualified applicants up to $1,500 for expenses for leadership development in the United States.

The 2020 recipients are Yun Ja Kwak of Buena Park, California, and Flury G. Wilson of New Zion, South Carolina.

Kwak’s home church is Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey. Kwak, who is currently seeking ordination within the PC(USA), says she will use her scholarship in pursuit of a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. “I hope to become better equipped to fulfill my calling to become a pastor and work in ministry involving adult Christian education,” she said.

Wilson, a practicing educator, says her scholarship will be used to pay tuition at Union Presbyterian Seminary for a Directed Studies course, Teaching Liberations Theologies and Practices in Congregations. “Through this course I gained more insight on Black liberation and womanist theology,” said Wilson. “This course enabled me to gain insight and explore which liberation theologies and ethics can be taught and practiced in congregations.” She is a member of Friendship Presbyterian Church in New Zion, South Carolina, where she serves as a deacon.

“The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon played an integral role in giving women a ‘voice’ in ministry within 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).”

“It is essential that the denomination continue to support women in leadership development and ministry through scholarships in honor of Dr. Cannon,” 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.”

Cannon was a pioneer 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.) and in 1983 she became the first African American to earn the 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 subjects 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 Community” and “Black Womanist Ethics.”

Those wishing to learn more about the scholarship or to donate toward the scholarship should click here.

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