LWF grants scholarship for 2023

20 Feb 2023

The LWF has approved more than 120 candidates for its scholarships’ program in theology and diakonia studies in 2023. The majority are youth.


Laura Saravia

LWF scholarship holder Ms Laura Saravia, a theology student at the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary in Mexico, is an active member of the Youth Council of her native Salvadoran Lutheran Church. Photo: LWF/Eugenio Albrecht

Young people majority of new scholars in theology and diakonia studies 

(LWI) – Youth comprised more than half of the applicants seeking to pursue studies through The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Scholarships program in 2023.  

The LWF received 306 applications by candidates from 60 LWF member churches in 2022. The requests included 16 group applications. 

“Out of all the applicants, more than half of those interested in theological studies were young people (18-30 years). Youth also made up over 80 percent of all applicants for diakonia and development,” said Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, LWF Program Executive for Capacity Building and Leadership Development.   

At the end of last year, the LWF Scholarship Committee approved scholarships for 122 candidates whose studies will begin this year: 70 in the diakonia category and 52 in theology.   

Criteria for selecting those to be granted LWF scholarships include equitable representation of the respective regions and churches, and meeting the gender threshold of 40 percent female, 40 percent male and 20 percent youth participation. Kiilunen noted that while the number of applicants in 2022 was higher than previous years, many member churches did not respect the gender quota. The selection criteria, she said, are important in affirming LWF's commitment to inclusive participation.   

Connecting students online  

Since 2021 the LWF’s leadership development program through scholarships includes online quarterly ‘Coming Together’ meetings for students to reflect on their educational journey, and discuss topical subjects such as Lutheran identity, gender justice and contemporary issues in their contexts and around the world. Kiilunen said the platform has become “a great opportunity for students to be connected and experience the gift of being part of the global communion of churches.” 

“The Coming together meetings are a very nice space to get to know other students. I am looking forward to meeting the newly selected candidates at the meetings in 2023,” said Ms Laura Saravia from the Salvadoran Lutheran Church (SLS). She is currently studying theology at the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary (SEMLA) in Mexico.   

Saravia, an active member of the SLS Youth Council is among the 111 students who were granted LWF scholarships for 2022. She says her call to study further was inspired by the church’s diaconal work with the youth and children in different communities in El Salvador. “Taking up theology as a formal academic process is a wonderful starting point to learn about God,” she says. Her second semester at SEMLA includes online classes “with teachers who have many skills and many experiences,” she notes.  While it is a Lutheran seminary, “I also have the opportunity to have classmates from different churches and that makes it an even more beautiful experience,” she adds.  

In a video Saravia shares her inspiration for studying theology and being part of the LWF group of scholarship holders.  

The ‘Coming Together’ meetings are a very nice space to get to know other students. I am looking forward to meeting the newly selected candidates at the meetings in 2023.

– Ms Laura Saravia, Salvadoran Lutheran Church

The LWF will develop the scholarships’ program further by introducing a new leadership course later this year. “I am very excited about this new training which includes six modules, aimed at raising awareness and equipping scholars with skills and capacities that strengthen them for leadership. It is an excellent opportunity to engage and inspire the future church leaders for continuous learning in the Lutheran communion,” Kiilunen added. 

There are 300 LWF scholarship holders from churches mostly in developing countries, who are pursuing studies in theology and diakonia related fields. A majority are enrolled in institutions in their home countries or regions. The annual call for scholarships opens on 1 August and the deadline for submitting applications is 15 October. All candidates must be endorsed by the head of their respective LWF member church.

LWF/P. Mumia & Eugenio Albrecht 
Inspiring future church leaders through LWF scholarships

Ms Laura Saravia, Salvadoran Lutheran Church, shares her inspiration for studying theology.