SoMA Announces the Jesse C. Swanigan Fellowship

PARKVILLE, MO (November 4, 2015) - The Synod of Mid-America (SoMA) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Jesse C. Swanigan Fellowship, a new initiative to nurture, support, and advocate for women and men of color to gain mid-council executive leadership education and experience in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

"For as long as I have been Presbyterian, there have been calls for conversation and action to help us become a multi-cultural church," said Rev. Landon Whitsitt, Executive of the SoMA. "But even 15 years later, the PCUSA remains a 95% white denomination. We need to become more creative about dismantling the white privilege of our system, and I believe it starts with ensuring that more women and men of color enter the ranks of mid-council leadership."

The 2-year Swanigan Fellowship will find participants involved in all aspects of the SoMA's life and work, working closely with staff to implement programs for new and established pastors, Commissioned Ruling Elderspresbytery leadership, as well as work on the SoMA's flagship program, Theocademy. Participants will also be enrolled in three leadership training programs: McCormick Seminary's Certificate in Executive Leadership programMALT's Interim Executive Training, and the Racial Ethnic Leadership Institute of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

The Swanigan Fellowship is named for Ruling Elder Jesse C. Swanigan, longtime commissioner to the SoMA from the Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy. In 2014, Mr. Swanigan served the SoMA as it's Moderator. Mr. Swanigan has also served the broader church as President and Treasurer of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus.

"Mr. Swanigan is the embodiment of who we hope our Fellows will be," said Whitsitt. "He is a tireless, creative, and outspoken leader in the PCUSA and beyond, who has spent his life advocating for justice and equality."

Application details will be made available in December, and the SoMA will review applications until January 31, 2016. Interviews for selected finalist will be scheduled for March 14-16, 2016 at the Synod offices in Parkville, MO. Expected start date for the first Swanigan Fellow is June 1, 2016.

Questions and comments can be directed to staff at