LWF calls for scholarship applications in theology and diakonia

10 Aug 2023

Applications are open for the 2024 scholarship program and churches are invited to share details widely with candidates keen to pursue studies in theology and diakonia. 

Helen Chukka

Rev. Dr Helen Chukka, a former LWF scholarship holder. Photo: Private 

Scholarships provide support to individuals but also inspire and empower whole communities 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomes applications for its 2024 scholarships program, offering support for candidates in member churches around the globe seeking to pursue studies in theology or diakonia and development-related subjects.  

Applications can be made for regular diploma, bachelor, masters or PhD programs, as well as for short term scholarships that may be used for online courses, workshops, seminars or research projects. The latter are designed for church workers who can apply newly gained skills to benefit the daily work of the church or related institutions. 

All applications must be endorsed by a candidate’s church leadership and must reflect the needs and priorities of that institution. Church leaders must show a commitment to engaging candidates as employees or volunteers after completion of the course and applications should be accompanied by a detailed description of how the skills acquired will serve to build capacity within the church. 

Potent catalyst for social change and empowerment 

A recent beneficiary, Rev. Helen Chukka from India, notes that the scholarship program provides far more than simply financial support, especially for women in churches where leadership opportunities are lacking. A Dalit pastor from the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church, she describes the program as “a potent catalyst for social change and empowerment, not only enabling individuals to realize their dreams but also inspiring others within marginalized communities.” 

A graduate of Gurukul Lutheran Theological College in Chennai, with a masters from Union Theological Seminary in New York, Chukka received a three-year LWF scholarship (extended to four during the COVID-19 pandemic) to pursue a PhD from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The funding “not only provided me with the necessary stability and financial support,” she says, “but also instilled in me the confidence to represent the Dalit communities in India." 

Applications may be made for individual or group scholarships, with each LWF member church eligible to apply for five regular and two short-term scholarships. In the application process, LWF's gender and youth quotas must be respected, both in the category of theology and diakonia. Candidates should be encouraged to pursue study courses in their home countries, unless there are valid reasons for an overseas application. 

Opportunity to build capacity around strategic priorities 

Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, who leads LWF’s work for capacity building and leadership development, said the scholarships are “an excellent opportunity for churches to strengthen their capacities in areas that will be of strategic importance in the coming years. They are required to have a clear human resource plan in place, in which the priorities of the church have been carefully considered.”  

She added: “I encourage everyone who would like to apply for an LWF scholarship to contact their church head-office and share their interest with church leadership. It is the responsibility of the churches to provide information on how the internal application process takes place.” 

LWF’s scholarship program has been active since the 1950s, working alongside the churches to promote participatory leadership and strengthen missionary activity in the local context. 

All applications should be made through the LWF’s Scholarship Online Portal

LWF/P. Hitchen