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Second team announces intention to stand for co-moderators of 2022 General Assembly

Ruth Santana-Grace.

Now it’s two.

A second team has announced they will stand for election as co-moderators of the 2022 General Assembly: Shavon Starling-Louis and Ruth Santana-Grace.

Both are ministers, with Santana-Grace serving as executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Philadelphia since 2014, and Starling-Louis being called in 2021 as pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Words do not sufficiently describe the love and encouragement experienced today as expressed by the people of the Presbytery of Philadelphia as they unanimously endorsed me to stand as Co-Moderator of the 225 General Assembly,” Santana-Grace wrote in a Facebook post March 29. “I am standing with Shavon Starling-Louis of Charlotte, N.C. should her way be clear! May God’s grace be with us all!”

Before going to seminary, Santana-Grace, who grew up in New York City, earned a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College and worked for more than a decade in Washington, D.C., and in Rome, Italy – bringing together government leaders from the United States and Europe for policy discussions on issues such as education and economic development.

Following that, Santana-Grace earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1994. She then served as associate pastor for adult discipleship at First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, then switched to mid council work,  becoming executive presbyter of San Gabriel Presbytery in Southern California from 2005 to 2014 — a presbytery with many immigrant congregations in the Los Angeles area, and which describes itself as “a presbytery of diversity.” Santana-Grace speaks English, Spanish and Italian.

Santana-Grace serves on the board of trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation and of Princeton seminary. In a profile of her on the seminary’s website, Santana-Grace describes herself as a bridge builder. See here a presentation she made at the 2018 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women.

Shavon Starling-Louis.

In a panel discussion with Hispanic and Latinx mid council leaders last fall, presented by the Presbyterian Historical Society, Santana-Grace said she grew up attending a Spanish-language church as a “Nuyorican,” a child of the denomination, and a pastor’s kid.

Starling-Louis grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, graduated from St. Leo University and in 2013 earned a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. She previously served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Providence Presbyterian Church in Providence, Rhode Island, and, until the fall of 2021, at Meadowlake Presbyterian Church in Huntersville, North Carolina.

Starling-Louis has served in leadership at NEXT Church, a network of Presbyterians shaping leadership for a changing church. She’s currently on the NEXT strategy team and previously served as the organization’s co-chair. Starling-Louis preached during closing worship at NEXT’s online national gathering in 2021 — here’s a video of her sermon.

She also serves as co-moderator, with John Cleghorn, of the Anti-Racism Ministry Team of the Presbytery of Charlotte.

Earlier this week, the first team announced they would stand for co-moderator: Josefina Ahumada and Marilyn McKelvey Tucker-Marek.

The election will be held on the evening of June 18 – the first day the assembly is in session – and will be livestreamed.

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