surrounding their cultural and faith contexts. Kathryn Kleinhans, a religion professor at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, who has served as the program director since the seminars began in 2014, said both participants and the ELCA have much to gain from engaging in this work together. “The ELCA has financial, human and

by sisterhood

intellectual resources that can benefit our partner churches. The flip side of this coin, however, is that we [in the ELCA] have much to learn from the lived experience of women leaders in our partner churches, who are faithfully implementing the Lutheran witness in their own contexts,” she said.

Envisioning the next reformation For Ana Isa Dos Reis, a pastor of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, July’s seminar was a chance to share with other women the challenging realities that face women in Brazil and to discuss the church’s response. “We women suffer discrimination and violence because we are women,” she said. “This time of reformation challenges us to build a church where we have equal rights for all people, where we can live with respect, with tolerance, with peace and love.” For Dos Reis and other participants, lifting up

the rights of all people through the gospel messages of dignity, justice and love became a central theme of the week. Kleinhans guided conversation by challenging participants to honestly and openly wrestle with the ways in which oppression and patriarchy continue to permeate many aspects of society, including the church. Studying significant women of the Reformation

Twenty-two women took part in the July 2017 International Women Leaders seminar in Wittenberg, Germany. They are standing in front of the historic All Saints’ Church (Castle Church) after worship.

inspired Lusajo Kanyamale, a lay leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, a lawyer and professor, to think about her future and how she could encourage other women to lead. “Women leaders are very important in the church and we need to have more [in the church] because women throughout the ages have proven to be strong figures in the society,” she said. “We’re supposed to be the Katharina von Boras and Argulas of today.” Kanyamale said being a leader in her community

platform in which Lutheran women from ELCA companion churches are strengthened and empowered as leaders within the global church. That leadership is needed, said Tammy Jackson,

director of the ELCA International Leaders program, adding, “[We are preparing] women for new roles and, in some cases, expanded leadership roles in their church.” In total the weeklong gatherings have

provided almost 100 women from 40 countries the opportunity to exchange ideas and perspectives

means sharing her knowledge of the justice system with those who can’t afford legal counsel. At home she gives advice to some church members regarding their rights to ownership of land as most are agriculturalists. “Recently there have been talks in our church about starting a legal clinic ... where we will provide free advice for women who face gender issues or property issues or any kind of legal problem,” she said. In bringing together international women

leaders, the seminars have become a launching pad REFORMATION • LIVINGLUTHERAN.ORG 33

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