By Patricia Burdette (originally published in Mennonite World Review April 30, 2012)
PENFIELD, N.Y.—“I really can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate my ordination than to pass on to other women the joy I’ve had in theological education. I’ve lived in Kenya and Ethiopia, and have seen how hard women work, how important they are to their families and to the church, and how many things conspire to keep them from getting theological education,” explains Sonya Stauffer Kurtz of Rochester (N.Y.) Area Mennonite Fellowship.
She continues, “I know for myself how empowering and useful theological education has been in my development as a woman who works in the church. I am just delighted that people gave so generously to support women in leadership around the world. Maybe we will start a trend at women’s ordinations—wouldn’t that be fun!”
The idea of giving to Mennonite Women USA’s International Women’s Fund (IWF) came about as Kurtz considered that some people might wish to give her a gift in honor of her ordination. “It occurred to me that if anyone asked me what I would like for an ordination gift, I would tell them to give money to support Anabaptist women’s theological education around the world,” she said. Others in the church heard about her gift preference, and there were offerings in the church before and on the day of Kurtz’s ordination. The total gift was $1802.10 for IWF, presented to Rhoda Keener, co-director of Mennonite Women USA.
Says Kurtz, “This gift is from my congregation, Rochester Area Mennonite Fellowship, and also from friends and family who came to celebrate my ordination with me.”
Each year MW USA awards scholarships to international women for church theological leadership training. This year, twenty women will receive awards totaling $10,000. Seven of the awards were renewal scholarships, and thirteen were first-time scholarship recipients. The scholarship recipients represent ten countries on four continents: Africa, Asia, South America, and North America.