The National Council of Churches celebrates the life and mourns the passing of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon who went to be with the Lord on August 8, 2018. Dr. Cannon was the first African American woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and we join with her denomination in mourning this great loss to the entire Church.
We remember Rev. Dr. Cannon’s pioneering ministry. She was ordained on April 24, 1974, in Shelby, North Carolina by the Catawba Presbytery, in the Synod of Catawba. She considered teaching as her primary ministry and was a member of the faculty of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, beginning in 2001. During her career, she earned numerous distinctions including several Distinguished Professorships and the Excellence in Teaching Award by the American Academy of Religion.
Throughout her profound ministry, she took up the intellectual challenge of Dr. Gayraud S. Wilmore “to think theologically about some of the exasperatingly difficult problems Black people are facing in church and society.” Most recently, she founded the Center for Womanist Leadership, dedicated equipping church leaders with the theological and practical tools to “analyze the intersecting vectors of racism, sexism, and class elitism.”
Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon will be remembered for her courageous, prophetic, and profound theological and intellectual leadership. We mourn her loss, pray for her family, students, and colleagues, and hope that her ministry will continue through her writing and the lives of those she taught.