PHILADELPHIA — The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has appointed the Reverend Dr. Jerry L. Cannon as Vice President, Ministry Innovation, effective November 1. The appointment of Dr. Cannon, most recently Pastor and Head of Staff at C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church, one of the largest Black congregations in the PC(USA), strengthens the agency’s commitment to serve more and serve better in support of a changing Church.
“As we answer the call to make the Medical Plan and assistance and education programs available to more people, it is vital that we build stronger connections to groups and ministries that represent the growing diversity of the denomination,’’ said Andrew J. Browne, Senior Vice President, Church Engagement. “The addition of Jerry to our leadership team will increase our capacity and allow us to build stronger connections to groups and communities that have historically felt locked out and left behind.”
Dr. Cannon, a lifelong Presbyterian who has long been active in the national Church, joins the Board of Pensions leadership team after more than 30 years as Pastor of C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church, a thriving congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina.
After Dr. Cannon was installed as pastor of C.N. Jenkins Memorial in 1992, the congregation grew dramatically, nearly tripling in size. Much of that growth was driven by his approach to the worship experience — one that mixes old and new traditions to tailor the church service for multigenerational appeal. Additionally, he spearheaded the creation of several highly engaging ministries focused on recognition, scholarship, and fine arts for young congregants.
Dr. Cannon’s impact on the Charlotte congregation includes a legacy of supporting and empowering members in their pursuit of Christian servant leadership. Nearly a dozen C.N. Jenkins Memorial congregants have completed or are pursuing seminary studies using scholarship assistance from the church.
Community-based ministry has been a commitment of Dr. Cannon’s as well. Under his leadership, C.N. Jenkins Memorial partnered with several shelters to hold Bible study and provide other worship opportunities to support individuals in recovery. The church is also the only Black Presbyterian church in the Charlotte area that is a partner with Freedom School Partners — an initiative designed to reduce summer learning loss for local students.
“I’ve dedicated my life to teaching, preaching, and service,” Dr. Cannon said. “I consider the transition to the Board of Pensions an extension of my call — one that will create broader reach and impact across the denomination, particularly in areas and among groups that have historically been underrepresented.”
In his new role, Dr. Cannon will lead and direct the organization’s dues incentive programs, exploring solutions that will break new ground in the support of small church and nontraditional ministries. He will also manage the Board’s relationship with caucus groups, including the National Black Presbyterian Caucus, National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches, and Hispanic/Latinx National Presbyterian Caucus.
Dr. Cannon’s experience at the national level of the PC(USA) will serve him well in his position with the Board of Pensions. Widely respected, he has held several high-profile roles within the denomination, including leadership within the African American Intercultural Congregational Support Office. He also served as President of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus and as a Minister of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with the Presbyterian Foundation. He is a former member of the Board of Pensions Board of Directors, serving on the Assistance and Pension committees.
“Jerry’s experience and broad visibility within the greater PC(USA) will be particularly valuable for the Board of Pensions as we look to deepen our relationships with small congregations and communities of color, which are more likely than others to be without an installed pastor,” said Senior Vice President Browne.
“Pastoral care and support are vital to the growth and viability of the Church,’’ said Dr. Cannon. “I commend the Board for its commitment in this area, and look forward to leading and advancing efforts that support inclusive mutual care and wholeness for all who serve the Church and its affiliated organizations.”
A native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dr. Cannon earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Virginia State University, in Petersburg, Virginia, and a Master of Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center (Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary), in Atlanta. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary, in Dayton, Ohio.
Dr. Cannon is married to the Reverend Veronica Obey Cannon. Together, they have four adult children. He is the brother of the late Reverend Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon — the pioneer of womanist theology and the first Black woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, a denominational predecessor of the PC(USA).