Netherlands—On November 6, 2011, the Anne Zernike Fund was established in honour of the first Mennonite female pastor in the Netherlands to mark the centenary of her ordination on November 5, 1911. She was also the first female pastor ordained in any church in the Netherlands.
The fund aims at two goals. The first is “to encourage and empower Mennonite and Anabaptist female pastors all over the world in their calling to God and to add, if necessary, a limited financial support to their scholarship.” The second is “to encourage Mennonite and Anabaptist congregations around the world to value the skills and talents of women theologians by giving them a paid position according to their education and capabilities as an ordained pastor and honour the congregation with an award when they first ordain a woman pastor.”
The idea for the fund stems from the gathering of women theologians (mujeres teólogas) from across Latin America held just prior to the Mennonite World Conference 2009 assembly in Paraguay. This gathering, in turn, was inspired by presentations from African women theologians at the 2003 MWC Assembly in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
The group of women who established the Anne Zernike Fund included three—Christina Duhoux-Rueb, Coot Winkler Prins and Thijn Thijink—who are ordained pastors serving a congregation within the Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit (Mennonite Church in the Netherlands), a member church of MWC. Another woman, Antje van Dijk, chairs the Dutch Mennonite sister circles.
“We were all in Paraguay as individuals,” commented one of the women, “and somehow the idea to support the mujeres came after we returned home. We are all interested in the position of women pastors, so we met over a cup of coffee and after more cups of coffee—and quite a lot of deliberation—we finally shaped our ideas into the Anne Zernike Fund.”
The Anne Zernike Fund is hosted by Doopsgezind WereldWerk (Dutch Mennonite Organization for Solidary and Peace). Further information and application forms are available from the fund’s board secretary, Coot Winkler Prins, Keulenstraat 7, 8017 KR Zwolle, Netherlands. Further information is also available from Christina Duhoux-Rueb (email@example.com), who is responsible for public relations on behalf of the board.