The Theological Education Scholarship Fund for Women in the South (TESF) was established in 2001 as a means to increase the number of women in ordained ministry and to enable women from a wide network of Reformed churches in the south build their capacity for effective partnership in God’s mission.
Greta Montoya Ortega, a recipient of a scholarship, describes her situation and the impact the scholarship had on her life below:
Since I was a child I have been a member of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba. I was born in Matanzas, Cuba, where I currently live, and did a bachelor’s degree in Theology at the Evangelical Seminary of Theology, also in Matanzas.
I then studied for a master’s degree in religion at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico for two years. Thanks to the scholarship I was able to do this study in Puerto Rico. Otherwise, those two years would not have been possible.
In 2010 I was given the opportunity to be a Global Institute of Theology student in Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as take part in the WCRC Uniting General Council that was held in Grand Rapids at the same time. (My mother, Rev. Dr. Ofelia Ortega, has always been very involved in WCRC’s work and the ecumenical environment.)
I currently work as a visiting professor at the Ecumenical Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Havana, Cuba.
I believe that nowadays it is extremely important, even more so than in the past, to develop a basic ecumenism among local communities. This helps improve the relationship between the different denominations in an environment of dialogue, compromise and respect. This dialogue needs to be established as well with other religions since we live in an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious world. Peaceful coexistence is one of the biggest challenges that needs to be achieved in order to provide a Christian witness consistent with Biblical teachings.
I hope to bring knowledge and ideas to my church in order to continue to improve its witness in Cuban society while facing the challenges it is presented with. I believe that today more than ever we have to take into account the prophetic task of the church.
Even today, there are many churches in my country that do not accept women’s ordination. I think this is a struggle, and we have to continue being an example and offering support to other women who feel the calling to become a minister and wish to serve their church communities as ordained ministers.
I would tell those women who want to pursue theology this: In life it takes a lot of patience, perseverance and courage to achieve one’s goals. One must have faith in God as he will always open the doors for us, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
As for my church, I believe that women bring creativity and imagination in the practice of theology and in the life of the different ministries.
I am simply very grateful to WCRC and the TESF for its support. I believe this was an opportunity that has helped me grow and become more mature as a person and as a theologian.