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Europe and Middle East women leaders in theological education gather for the first time

Women from the European Council for Theological Education join to share and encourage each other. Plans for developing a network are underway.

FUENTES WiTE AUTOR 365/Carmen_Crouse,5/Evangelical_Focus Lárnaca (CYPRUS) 21 DE MARZO DE 2023 13:55 h
Participants of the gathering. / WiTE.

Following the General Assembly of the European Council for Theological Education (ECTE) 15 professional and passionate women in theological education (WiTE) from 11 countries shared 22 precious hours.

Initiated by ECTE’s Accreditation Director Carmen Crouse, and with the full and emphatic support of the ECTE Board, this event also bolstered the number of women attending the ECTE General Assembly from May 7-9, 2023, at a beautifully located hotel on the island of Cyprus.

The women represented most of the key stakeholders in theological education:

  • Academic/administrative Staff

  • Chief Executives

  • Curriculum Design Specialists

  • Employers

  • Faculty members

  • Governance members

  • Quality Assurance leaders

  • Researchers

  • Students

The goals for this first event were:

  • building awareness of female colleagues of each other within the ECTE network and beyond

  • evaluating and establishing the level of interest by WiTE for a potential network

  • establishing a space for personal and professional development

  • exploring pathways into the future for WiTE-events and activities


Women in research

There were 3 presentations about issues related to women in research.

Dr. Anne Moseley (OCMS, UK) provided insights from global studies into what allows women to thrive,not just survive, in research.

Afterwards, Katharina Penner, PhD cand (TCM, Austria) gave glimpses from her own doctoral research into the experience of women in higher education programmes, specifically doctorates, located in post-Soviet contexts.

Furthermore, Grace Al-Zoughbi, PhD cand (ECTE, Palestine) focused on the Middle Eastern context and specifically brought to life female leaders of the past which found very little place in historical accounts.


Time to share and future plans

Intentionally built into the program were opportunities for the participants to share their personal and professional stories and experiences as female leaders in theological education, resulting in lots of laughter and shared grief.

Realizing that personal experiences are not unique created opportunities for consolation and validation as well as encouragement and affirmation.

Participants were blessed to hear the stories from inspirational female trailblazers in the world of theological education: Rector Dr. Külli Töniste, Baltic Methodist Seminary, Rector Dr. Mária Gusztinné Tulipán, European Nazarene College, and Dr. Holley Clough, Board member of various organisations.

They discovered some of their motivating influences and heard about some of the people who had offered them the encouragement they needed to dream big and aim high.

Worship on the beach with a powerful message by Irini Pantileou (student representative, Greece) and a concluding commissioning service celebrating the Lord’s supper (Silke Brohl, Germany, & Holley Clough, USA) rounded out the event.

Plans for developing a network of WiTE are underway on the regional (Europe, Middle East) and quite possibly at the global level.

According to Crouse, “this first WiTE event was everything I have been hoping for, dreaming off and working towards for many years! More special, more dynamic, more meaningful, more powerful than I could have ever imagined”.

“This incredible group of formidable women, leaders in theological education, came together to meet and share and learn, to affirm and confirm and encourage, to laugh and cry and pray together”, she added.


Main take-aways from WiTE event

It was awe-inspiring for me to meet so many women carry great responsibility where they serve. I was especially moved by the challenges of our sisters in the Middle East. Birgit Ebinger, Academic Services, BibelStudienKolleg, Germany.

The WiTe conference was an opportunity for me to lift my eyes from the day to day affairs and not only regain perspective, but for God to affirm my call to ministry in theological education. I feel empowered and released to do what He has entrusted me to do here and now. Dr. Edith Vilamajó Sanchis, Dean of Students and Faculty member at Escuela Evangélica de Teología, Spain.

I was encouraged to see the tremendous potential women have if given an opportunity and a voice. Grace Al-Zougbhi (PhD cand), Review Secretary, European Council for Theological Education, Palestine.

It was such a privilege to spend time with such an extraordinary group of international women scholars. I have learned so much from their experiences, celebrated the unique voices women bring to academia and I have made new friends from across Europe and the Middle East. I trust we can continue to support and encourage each other in the coming months and years. Dr. Anne Moseley, Research Tutor, Oxford Centre of Mission Studies, UK.


If you are a female leader in theological education and interested in joining ECTE’s WiTE initiative, write Carmen Crouse to receive regular updates.




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Edith Vilamajó
11:17 h
A privilege to be part of this network of women! Thank you!

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