ELCA members lift up international women leaders

3/8/2016 5:30:00 PM

​            CHICAGO (ELCA) – In observance of International Women's Day, March 8, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) celebrate the cultural, educational, political and social achievements of women across the globe.
            "As we join the rest of the world in celebrating this day, we give thanks for the incredible women leaders in the ELCA and throughout our Lutheran companion churches," said Andrew Steele, director, ELCA Global Church Sponsorship.
            Through the ELCA's International Women Leaders initiative, the ELCA will provide more than 200 women from global companion churches with scholarships and educational opportunities to support their call to ministry and leadership. The initiative is one of 10 priorities of the ELCA's five-year comprehensive campaign, Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church.
            "The initiative provides scholarships to women from our companion churches all around the world, to not only study in their home contexts but also to study at our ELCA seminaries, colleges and universities," said Steele.
            "The International Women Leaders scholarship has given me the chance to go out of my comfort zone, learning and experiencing things that help me open my eyes to the world," said Lynette Lee, a member of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia. Lee attends Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and is studying to become a teacher. Luther is one of the ELCA's 26 colleges and universities.
            Through this initiative the ELCA seeks to expand opportunities for international women, helping create a church and society that is built on gender equality.
            Sthela Gun Holly Hanitrinirina, a member of the Malagasy Lutheran Church in Madagascar, attends Luther College. Hanitrinirina is interested in becoming a community organizer focused on gender issues in Madagascar.
            "My dream is to create gender politics for Madagascar that can be used within family, where child and adult, men and women could sit together and talk, and live equally and freely," said Hanitrinirina. "The International Women Leaders scholarship creates community, church and family leaders by giving (people) an opportunity to have access to education. This scholarship is an investment to create more leaders, which will help not just one person but an entire church, community and a country."
            In addition to scholarships, the initiative will also provide leadership development opportunities through the Wittenburg Seminar program.
            "This scholarship has made my home church proud," said Abby Lai, a member of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia who attends Newberry College in Newberry, S.C. "The pastors and leaders that trained me when I was a teenager are so proud that I have received this scholarship. This scholarship has encouraged women in my church to work hard and sign up for the application."
            "Women's education is central to our work with our global companions and we are thankful for the opportunity to invest in the future leaders who will change the world," said Steele.
               Information about the ELCA's International Women Leaders initiative is available at ELCA.org/InternationalLeaders.

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.


For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
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