Convention was the organization’s 45th
November 23, 2019
During this year’s celebration of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus’ 45th Biennial Convention in Atlanta, five outstanding Presbyterians were recognized for their efforts toward “seeking racial justice and equity.”
The 2019 Lucy Craft Laney Award was presented to Ruling Elder Corine Lytle Cannon, mother of the late Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon.
Laney was an outstanding educator who was encouraged by the Presbyterian Board of Missions to establish a school without any financial assistance. In 1883, she organized the school in the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. The award named for Laney honors “individuals who refuse to be defined by the limiting constraints imposed by others. With a holistic approach toward life, they pursue excellence in all they do, as they seek to enhance the lives of others educationally, culturally and politically.”
Now 99, Corine Lytle Cannon was the first African American woman to be hired for a production position at Cannon Mills in Kannapolis, North Carolina. She endured racism, taunting remarks and rejection from her white co-workers. With her faith in God and an eye on the future, Cannon withstood the hostile treatment. Cannon and her husband Esau vowed they would do all they could to keep their children from knowing such harsh treatment and ensured that each of them obtained a college education.
Cannon continued to learn and excel in her position. Her resilience led to the hiring of other African American women in production; African American men were hired in management positions. She continues to open doors today for children, youth and young adults by helping them to become their best selves.
After the end of slavery in the United States, at the age 33, Maria Fearing worked her way through the Freedman’s Bureau school, learning not only how to read and write, but also how to teach. Determined to be a missionary, at age 56 she was commissioned to the Congo, where for more than 20 years she served as a Presbyterian missionary, establishing the Pantops Home for Girls in 1915. The award named for her recognizes “individuals who stare insurmountable odds in the face and gather the courage to pursue what seems to be an impossible dream. While others are declaring what they cannot do, they respond by doing it anyway. They overcome major life challenges to achieve their life goals.”
The Maria Fearing Award was presented to Ruling Elder Toni Griffith-Fields. Griffith-Fields has been an ordained elder for 37 years and has served in Christian education, stewardship and evangelism and as chair of the Personnel Committee at two churches. She is a commissioned evangelism training facilitator through the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.
The Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill, coordinator for Vital Congregations for the PMA, received the Innovation in Ministry Award. The award “acknowledges an individual who approaches ministry with a curious mind, a dedicated heart and visionary eyes. Such a person witnesses to God’s amazing grace through ministries that are creative, innovative, fresh and inspiring while meeting real human needs.”
A dynamic workshop leader, speaker and theologian, Threadgill travels extensively around the denomination, paving the way toward congregational revitalization.
The Drum Major for Justice Award recognizes an individual who has displayed a passionate commitment to the biblical principles of justice.
Ruling Elder Rosy Latimore, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Michigan, the 2019 recipient of the Drum Major for Justice Award, actively serves in the Presbytery of Detroit. She has chaired the Diversity, Inclusion and Justice Ministry Team at her church and is involved in outreach to the LGBTQ community. At the presbytery level, she has served on the Committee on Ministry, Operations/Personnel Committee, Anti-Racism Task Group, Multi-Cultural Task Group and the Martin Luther King Jr. program.
The final award went to Commissioned Ruling Elder Mark Jones, who received the Edler Hawkins Award. In 1964, Hawkins became the first black person to be elected Moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. A staunch civil rights advocate, Hawkins embraced the “social gospel.” He is described as “a stellar role model and a proponent of faith in one’s self; of holding steadfast to that faith until that in which one believes is accepted by others, and therefore, becomes manifest.”
Gail Strange, Director of Church and Mid Council Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: National Black Presbyterian Caucus
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
O God, you are the friend to whom all can come. You give us more than we can ever know, and you give it freely and abundantly. Help us to see you in the faces and lives of those with whom we work, that while we minister we also may be ministered to. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.