From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Costa Rican Seminary Raises Funds by Honoring Women

Date 04 May 1996 20:47:35


95460     Costa Rican Seminary Raises Funds by Honoring Women 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--About 70,000 women's names -- from housewives to 
historymakers -- have been sent to the Latin American Biblical Seminary in 
San Jose, Costa Rica -- with one dollar attached to each name.  The goal is 
to gather one million women's names -- backed by one million dollars -- to 
break ground on a new seminary in 1997, built by honoring the lives of 
     "We have the names of women from the Middle Ages, indigenous women, 
martyrs, leaders of movements ... women who've made history, women from 
everyday life, grandmothers, cousins, nieces," said Elsa Tamez, an Old 
Testament scholar and president of the institution, who dreamed up the "One 
Million Women" project last year. 
       Though donations of more than one dollar will be accepted, a woman's 
name must be attached to each dollar.  Any donations without names will be 
applied to honor women from poor countries.  The one-dollar campaign is 
designed to give all the names equal weight and not shut out anyone who 
wants to donate. "Though men may give money in women's names, the focus," 
Tamez says, "is on women. We want the presence of women -- within 
theological education -- to not be forgotten." 
     The seminary has more than 800 students, mostly from low-income and 
marginalized backgrounds.  Three hundred of those students now are women. 
The seminary trains pastors and educators from 26 denominations -- from 
Roman Catholics to Pentecostals -- in 20 countries.  
     Tamez says an architect has proposed a four-building campus, with each 
structure symbolizing a different Latin culture.  The chapel is 
African-Caribbean style; the administration/academic building, 
Mayan-Aztec-Inca; and the dormitories, colonial and mestizo.  A small 
house, to be financed by the United Methodist Church, is to create space to 
run ministries for women in the local community. 
     "Women's names are very important because women are so invisible. 
They are nameless, identified only in their relationships to males.  They 
are the mothers, grandmothers, daughters.  Even in the Bible, one reads of 
the Syrophoenician woman, the widow of Naim, the woman who was bent over. 
For me, it is important to name them, because each woman has a history," 
Tamez told "The Other Side" magazine. 
     "The names of one million women will be very difficult to erase," she 
     All the women's names will be published, Tamez said and many will be 
inscribed on the walls of buildings and on plaques. 
     Tamez says the seminary is in the middle of an accreditation process, 
seeking permission to grant degrees at both undergraduate and graduate 
levels.  The seminary already owns property for the new campus; and it 
intends to rent its current downtown structure to generate income to run 
its program. 
       An irony is that  though the new facility will be built by honoring 
the memory of women, some of the denominations who train pastors and 
theologians there still do not ordain women.  "Some can't go into pastoral 
ministry," said Tamez.  "They teach -- in seminaries, ecumenical 
organizations, Christian education. 
     "But we want to make the church more aware of women's work." 
     The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is one of the collection sites in the 
United States for names and dollars.  Checks and names may be sent to: 
Central American Office, Attn. Julia Ann Moffett, One Million Women 
Building Our Dream, ECO Account #864600, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, 
KY 40202-1396. 
     Moffett says money and calls are coming into her office daily.  "The 
appeal is that women are doing this."  A female seminary president in Latin 
America is unusual in itself, Moffett said.  Elsa Tamez " is a Latin 
American woman, the second president of an institution that was started by 
a woman Presbyterian from Scotland," Moffett told the Presbyterian News 
      The campaign, she says, is rallying "the women of the world." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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