The Unity Women’s Desk is a ministry of the worldwide Moravian Church whose purpose is to positively impact the lives of women and girls by coordinating the spiritual, financial, educational and material resources that exist throughout the Moravian Unity.
The vision of the Unity Women’s Desk is to bring about global change for Moravian women around the world. The most pressing issues facing women and girls today are in the areas of education, health, economics and violence against women. By raising awareness of these issues, developing and funding solutions, and enlisting help from our worldwide Unity, we are working to improve the lives of women and girls everywhere.
To help us achieve our vision, on March 12, 2017, we began our first capital campaign, Standing With Our Sisters, in the Southern Province, with the goal of raising $250,000 to strengthen and expand our work in four areas:
We have a dedicated capital campaign steering committee led by Ms. Sallie Greenfield (member of Kernersville Moravian Church) and Dr. Phil McKinley (member of Home Moravian Church), with the Moravian Ministries Foundation serving as campaign counsel. After our campaign kick-off event at Fairview Moravian Church, members of the committee began visiting our most dedicated supporters and making the case for the campaign. It is with great joy that we share that we reached the original campaign goal of $250,000 as a result of these visits and the generosity of those who believe in our mission.
Able to do more
We are already able to give more Project Grants. In September, for instance, before Br. Rick Nelson left Honduras, he presented a seminar for 40 of our provincial coordinators and local women’s fellowship
leaders teaching them how to manage financial accounts. With the funds we provided, these women were able to enlarge their teaching staff and include courses on time management, dealing with violence against women, and improving the quality of women’s lives in their province. The women there provided the accommodations and transportation for attendees and also supplied the meals for the weekend.
Also, the increase in our Gretta Gene and Irvin Leinbach Fund will allow us to get involved with several Vicobas (Village Community Banks) in Tanzania. Our plan is to lend money to women to purchase 10-acre tracts of land, divide the land among the 7-10 member Vicobas, and allow each woman to start a business (which they will fund through monthly contributions to the Vicoba) and become self-sustaining. They will have five years to repay the loan without interest.
Finally, we are now able to give $2,000 in scholarship money per province, Mission Province, and Mission Area without fear of depleting the Scholarship Fund. We also have five new named scholarships designated for the following purposes:
- to support women who want to go to nursing school
- to assist women in Sierra Leone
- to support women who want to go to university, seminary, or nursing school
- to provide educational scholarships to girls and women
- to support women who want to go to seminary
With the additional funding from the campaign, we hope to increase the amount awarded to each province, Mission Province and Mission Area this year and in the years to come, until we can help all the Moravian girls and women who need scholarship funds.
A new priority
In late September we identified a new priority for the six months that remained on our campaign: raising funds for women who are planning to go into the ordained ministry. Currently we have to limit gifts to seminary and university students to $500 per year unless there are no secondary and primary school requests from a province or area.
In most places the cost of one year’s education is between $3,000 and $6,000. In some places this pays for everything—tuition, room and board, books and supplies; in other areas, it only covers tuition. With the $500 limit we have now, the women have a substantial amount they must raise themselves, and we do not send our funds until they have raised the full amount needed for a year. We would like to be able to provide at least two full scholarships each year to women who plan to enter the ministry.
We will celebrate Standing With Our Sisters on Sunday, March 18, 2018with an Open House at the Unity Women’s Desk office from 2:00 pm to 3:30 p.m., followed by a special lovefeast at 4:00 pm at Home Moravian Church. Sister Angelene Swart will bring the message.
We are overwhelmed by the generous support of the people who are Standing With Our Sisters and enabling the Unity Women’s Desk to strengthen and expand its work around the world, and we are delighted by what their support will mean for Moravian women and girls for generations to come.
Laura Watson is director of stewardship and development services for the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America.