Applications open for second phase of Hélène Ralivao Fund scholarships

Women pastors and lay theologians from the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria at their first joint conference in 2018. Photo: LCCN
Women pastors and lay theologians from the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria at their first joint conference in 2018. Photo: LCCN

16 May deadline: Churches are encouraged to invite women candidates

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has opened the call for applications to its second round of scholarships under the Hélène Ralivao Fund, a program dedicated to women studying theology in the African region. 

In a letter sent today to leaders of the 31 LWF member churches in Africa, Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, LWF Program Executive for Capacity Building and Leadership Development, encouraged the heads of churches to invite women to apply. The online application will close on 16 May. The fund provides scholarships for post-graduate studies in various theological fields, short courses in leadership skills, and expertise in fields related to gender justice

The LWF launched the fund in June 2021, as a legacy to Malagasy Lutheran Church theologian Ms Hélène Ralivao, who dedicated her service in the church to women’s theological education and leadership in her home country Madagascar and beyond. She died in February 2020.

“The scholarships contribute to empowering individual women as theologians and leaders and sustaining systemic change in churches working towards more inclusive, safe, and just communities of women and men,” said Kiilunen. 

Encouraging women to “stand with confidence” 

The first group of 10 grant recipients included Rev. Patricia Jabedu, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ). She recently qualified for an executive certificate in project management, monitoring and evaluation following a short-term course at the Catholic University of Zimbabwe.

Rev. Patricia Jabedu, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, was among the first 10 women to receive the Hélène Ralivao Fund scholarships in 2021. Photo: Tamuka Hove

 

Jabedu was ordained in 2010 and she has since worked as a pastor in three ELCZ parishes around the capital Harare. She said the scholarship had enabled her to pursue studies, whose costs she could otherwise not afford. “Such support encourages women to emulate the educated women leaders and also stand with confidence against all obstacles towards achieving gender parity. My focus is to become an informed female church leader.” 

Jabedu hopes to contribute her additional qualifications to ELCZ-run projects to ensure “the implementation is being done in accordance with the plan and also evaluate the success of the implemented projects.”

The Zimbabwean pastor said she draws great inspiration from the work of Hélène Ralivao. She plans to pursue gender justice studies also “in order to use my influence as a pastor to advocate for women’s involvement in decision-making positions in the church and our country in general.” 

By LWF/P. Mumia

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