Gilliard’s Election Marks Two Firsts

ATLANTA, GA (May 10, 2018) – Catherine Gilliard’s election to be the new superintendent of the Southeast Conference represents two firsts—she is the first woman of color to hold the position, and it is the first time in the Covenant that two women have simultaneously served as superintendent.

Gilliard was elected during the conference Annual Meeting held April 19-21 at Kingdom Builders Covenant Church in Conyers, Georgia.

Tammy Swanson-Draheim, superintendent of the Midwest Conference, said, “I am thrilled that we have two superintendents who happen to also be female. Whenever a female pastor receives a call to senior leadership—whether in the local church, conference, or denomination—we realize a little bit more of God’s design for his kingdom people right here on earth. I am particularly delighted that it is Catherine Gilliard who joins the Council of Superintendents. She is an excellent leader, and I have admired her for a long time.”

Evelyn Johnson, the first woman to serve as superintendent when she led the Pacific Southwest Conference from 2000 to 2008, also expressed her joy over the election. “I was so grateful to God when Catherine was unanimously elected. Her gifts and experiences have prepared her well. Her election breaks the ceiling of what for 18 years has seemed to be ‘one female superintendent at a time.’”

Gilliard said she recognizes the significance of her election. “As I accept this call I am mindful, prayerful, thankful, and grateful. I am mindful of the women who make my passage to serve in this leadership role possible. I couldn’t be more thankful for the witness of Evelyn Johnson and Tammy Swanson-Draheim, strong, effective leaders of wisdom and courage.”

Gilliard has held an array of pioneering leadership positions. She was the first African American president of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW), the first female president of the African American Ministers Association (AAMA), and the first African American female church planter in the Covenant, as well as the first woman color to serve as president of the Ministerium, a position she currently holds. She has also served as chair of the Covenant Executive Board.

Most recently, she has co-pastored with Tim Rodgers, who is white, to lead New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, which has worked to be deliberately multiethnic.

“The Southeast Conference has a motto of being ‘Better Together,’” Gilliard said. “We live into our motto by developing leaders who give witness to the mosaic of heaven. Through difficult conversations, we enter into organic discipleship, a process of becoming the sacrificial love, extending the assurance of grace, and proclaiming the hope we have in Christ to others.”


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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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  1. An outstanding, inspiring and motivating article on the church in the south and how it has progressed in cultivating leaders that represent all segments of our society.

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