In 2013 Mennonite Women USA’s (MW USA) International Women’s Fund (IWF) awarded scholarships totaling $10,500 to 21 women in India, Africa, and Latin America, to pursue theological training for church leadership.
Prospective students are referred to MW USA by church leaders in their countries, or by North Americans who work with the churches in other countries. Over the past 13 years, 75 women have been awarded scholarships, totaling more than $98,274. Women in 18 different countries have been assisted in their education through the efforts of the IWF.
The IWF scholarships are one way in which MW USA fulfills their mission and vision statements — to nurture their life in Christ, to empower women to use their gifts, and “to invite women across generations, cultures, and places to express our prophetic voice boldly as we seek to follow Christ.” Theological and church leadership training provides opportunities for women around the world to minister to their local congregations and to contribute to the leadership of the broader church.
Former IWF recipients Rebecca Osiro (Kenya) and Alix Lozano (Colombia) serve on the Faith and Life Commission of Mennonite World Conference along with Alix Lozano, Colombia. Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, moderator of Mennonite Church USA, received IWF funds to study theology in Colombia, where she was ordained to Christian ministry. In September 2013, five women will be ordained in Congo, including Sidonie Swana Tangiza Tenda who is an IWF recipient. Rachel Bagh teaches seminary in India and has participated in the formation of the Asian Women Theologians’ group. Other former IWF recipients are currently pastoring churches, teaching in colleges and seminaries, and actively participating in Christian education and community activities.
The International Women’s Fund has its origins with the Women in Mission of the former General Conference Mennonite Church. For twenty years before the two churches came together, WIM funded many women in scholarships for theological education. Since the two churches have come together, Mennonite Women USA has allocated significant funds from their budget to support this important cause.