Latin American women honored for theological research

Recipients of the honorary degree from Faculdades EST: from left to right, Dr Maricel Mena-López, Dr Nancy Cardoso, Rev. Dr Lori Altmann, Rev. Dr Mercedes Garcia Bachmann and Dr Wanda Deifelt. Photos: Private
Recipients of the honorary degree from Faculdades EST: from left to right, Dr Maricel Mena-López, Dr Nancy Cardoso, Rev. Dr Lori Altmann, Rev. Dr Mercedes Garcia Bachmann and Dr Wanda Deifelt. Photos: Private

Brazil’s Faculdades EST awards honorary degree to five theologians from different Christian traditions

(LWI) - Five renowned Latin American women from different Christian traditions will be awarded an honorary degree by Faculdades EST, one of Brazil’s leading centers of education and research. The 26 August award ceremony marks the 75th anniversary of the institute’s founding by the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (IELCB) and the 30th anniversary of its chair of feminist theology.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge will send greetings to the group, giving thanks for the work of the five theologians and for the contribution that the chair of feminist theology has made over the past three decades at both national and global level.  

The theologians receiving the collective honorary degree are Brazilian Lutheran Rev. Dr Lori Altmann, Colombian Catholic Dr Maricel Mena-López, Argentinian Lutheran Rev. Dr Mercedes Garcia Bachmann, Brazilian Methodist Dr Nancy Cardoso and Brazilian Lutheran Dr Wanda Deifelt. The online award ceremony takes place during the VII Latin American Congress on Gender and Religion, which is bringing together theologians, social movements, grassroot organizations, faith communities and activists from across the region and beyond to discuss the theme ‘Courage, Creativity and Hope’.

Key to construction of gender justice

The institute’s Chair of Feminist Theology was inaugurated in 1991 in response to the growing demand from women who began studying at Faculdades EST in the 1950s. It marked the first such center in Latin America to specialize in feminist theology and remains one of the few educational institutes in the region to offer this specialization.

“The Chair of Feminist Theology was and continues to be fundamental in the training of ministers of the Church and researchers in theology as an instrument for the construction of gender justice,” said Rev. Dr Marcia Blasi, LWF Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment. “Honoring this legacy through the granting of this title is another milestone on this journey,” she added.  

The recipients have all been pioneers in the field of feminist theology, affirming the importance of studying gender within the broader context of interconnected issues in church and society. Altmann has specialized in work with Brazil’s indigenous communities and was ordained as an IELCB pastor in 1990. Mena-López was the first to formulate an Afro-Caribbean feminist black theology and is currently teaching at St Thomas University in Bogotá.  

Garcia Bachmann specializes in lay and ordained leadership training and is well known in ecumenical circles for her work with Latin America’s different faith communities. Deifelt was the institute’s first professor of feminist theology and has served as theological advisor to the LWF and the World Council of Churches, while Cardoso has worked with indigenous communities to develop a feminist agro-eco-theology and is currently teaching at the Methodist University of Angola.

The award ceremony will be live streamed on Faculdades EST’s YouTube channel on 26 August at 19.00 local time.  

LWF/P. Hitchen