As of January 2020, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has relaunched its Sarah Chakko Scholarship Fund.
The fund was first established in 1998, at the end of the Ecumenical Decade of Solidarity with Women, aiming to promote the education of women for leadership competencies for the ecumenical movement.
From its inception, the Sarah Chakko scholarship fund makes it possible for women to enter theological education and other training programmes that unlock women’s theological and ecumenical creativity.
Beneficiaries, past and present
Bearing the name of the first woman president of the WCC, the scholarship fund is a way to honour the gift of women at various levels of leadership in the ecumenical movement.
Manda Andrian from the Javanese Church in Indonesia is one of two current students at the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute at Bossey who currently benefit from the scholarship fund.
“As a person who lives in a multicultural and multireligious society, having an opportunity to study in Bossey is such a precious chance for me,” Andrian reflects. “I hope that I will be able to apply my knowledge to build a better society and to spread the ecumenical spirit, especially for young people in my community.”
Seeing the Sarah Chakko scholarships available through WCC work on Ecumenical Theological Education, Rev. Ruth Saiya from the Protestant Church of Maluku, Indonesia, continues: “One of the struggles of women in eastern Indonesia is the difficulty to get access to continue their education to a higher level. The challenge relates to our geographical location in an archipelago, which makes it very difficult for us to reach education centers. I feel confident that more women will have the opportunity to learn to assist the growth of their churches in an ecumenical spirit.”
Reflecting on the relaunch of the scholarship fund, Fr. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, extolled the contribution of women to the ecumenical movement, noting that Sarah Chakko was only 49 when she passed away, and yet accomplished so much in terms of her service to church and society. Chakko, a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India, Sauca also said, is an example of a laywoman who found a place to offer her gifts for service to God.
Seeing the two beneficiaries of the scholarship, WCC Programme Executive for Ecumenical Theological Education Rev Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba noted that the work of ecumenical women has re-emerged, and urged them to uphold those women’s ethos and legacy.