The Goal of Education is Action

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Cynthia Holder Rich


The women students at the Ivory Graduate Seminary in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, had a problem. These women lived and served in a society that accepted violence against women as a norm and denied women and girls both reproductive rights and the right to refuse sex. They served as well within a Christian community that erected significant obstacles toward the recognition of the vocation of women for ministry. The women students, who had somehow found their way to the highest level of theological education available on the island despite real challenges, were in need of support and safe space for discussion. They often questioned how to maintain the integrity of their calls in the midst of a hostile and often toxic society and church community. Because most of them were wives and mothers as well as students, all of the childcare, housework, and cooking fell to them, so most of them were working the equivalent of two full-time jobs. Exhaustion and attendant vulnerability to disease were constant issues. Yet these women were committed to the ministries to which God had called them, and they had a crucial need for support.

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Education -- Philosophy; Church and education; Christian education; Christian education -- Philosophy; Christian education of adults; Church and social problems; Social justice; Church and the world