First class of ELCA International Women Leaders begins studies this fall

9/22/2015 1:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – Six international women have received scholarships to pursue higher education at Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) colleges and universities as part of the first year of the denomination's International Women Leaders initiative.

            These women, nominated by ELCA global companion churches, are joined by seven women receiving scholarships to further their education at institutions in their home countries and one receiving a partial-tuition scholarship to attend an ELCA seminary. In its first 12 months, this initiative provided 60 international women with training, networking and educational opportunities, including special seminars in Wittenberg, Germany.
            "The International Women Leaders Program will shape me to become a better servant of God and share God's love to people around me," said Sthela Hanitrinirina, a member of the Malagasy Lutheran Church and recipient of an International Women Leaders scholarship. Hanitrinirina is studying social work and women/gender studies at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. "The opportunity to receive this scholarship is not just for getting a better education, but to grow as a future woman leader for my community, my family, my country, and especially for my church, the Malagasy Lutheran Church."
            The first class of scholars includes three women from the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, and one each from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Suriname, the Malagasy Lutheran Church and the Mexican Lutheran Church. Three of these women are studying at Luther College, Decorah; two at Newberry College, Newberry, S.C.; and one at Augsburg College, Minneapolis.
            "Nations across the globe are invested in increasing access to education and training opportunities for women," said Tammy Jackson, International Leadership Development program director, ELCA Global Mission. "Now, our church has proudly stepped forward with this new initiative to ensure gender educational equity in hopes of transforming lives among international women. It is especially gratifying to be in partnership with our ELCA colleges and global companions in this critical work."
            International Women Leaders grows out of the ELCA's long-standing international scholarship program, which has provided financial support for short- and long-term academic training for established and emerging global leaders over the past 27 years. In total, more than 900 International Leaders from ELCA global companion churches have received scholarships and support for educational training through the program. However, less than a third of the participants nominated have been women. The International Women Leaders program, one of 10 priorities of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA, aims to empower international women leaders through programming designed specifically for them.
            "We are really excited about the International Women Leaders priority of the campaign," shared the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director of the campaign. "This program allows us to help alleviate a huge problem in our world – the lack of educational opportunities for women. We have seen the amazing things that can happen when women have access to education and training, and now we have the opportunity to answer the call to empower even more women throughout the ELCA and churches around the world."
            Through The Campaign for the ELCA, more than 200 additional women leaders from the ELCA's global companion churches will receive scholarship support and educational opportunities over the next four years. As part of this initiative, women from across the global South and societies where Lutheran communities are in the minority will be given the opportunity to participate in the annual Wittenberg seminars with fellow leaders. Nearly 50 women have participated in the seminars to date. In total, The Campaign for the ELCA aims to raise $4 million by Feb. 1, 2019, to support the International Women Leaders initiative.
            Information about The Campaign for the ELCA is available at
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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 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 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.

*Alix Matzke is the marketing communications manager for The Campaign of the ELCA.

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