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Korean Association of Women Theologians wins Swiss prize

October 26, 2012

An association of feminist Korean theologians has been selected to receive an international prize awarded by women of the Swiss Reformed Churches to organizations or individuals who promote the role of women as church leaders.

The Korean Association of Women Theologians (KAWT) was chosen to receive the Sylvia Michel Prize granted by the women presidents of the Reformed Churches in Switzerland in cooperation with the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The prize is named after the first woman president of a European church executive and is awarded biennially.

The award for 2013 goes to KAWT in recognition of its support for the study of theology from a feminist perspective and its promotion of the full participation of women in churches in South Korea. The association has roots in initiatives for peace, reunification, and human rights on the Korean peninsula.

KAWT’s 350 members and 150 associate members include ordained pastors, academics and church-based women who serve the practical needs of women. The association promotes the full participation of women in church structures and encourages the study and recognition of feminist theology in the church.

The association was founded in 1980 by pioneering Reformed church theologian Soon Kyung Park. Park served as a professor at Korea’s Ewha Women’s University for 22 years while overseeing the work of KAWT. Her work focuses on liberation theology — an approach to Christian doctrine that favors the needs and protection of the most vulnerable people in society — and its connection to Korean concepts of suffering (Minjung) and of national self-determination (Minjok). Park is known for her support of reunification of the Korean peninsula, a stance for which she was jailed for over three months in 1991.

KAWT will use the USD5000 prize money to publish an English-language version of the history of the organization in time for the publication to be launched at the assembly of the World Council of Churches scheduled to be held in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 30-Nov. 8, 2013.

Park will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to receive the award on behalf of the association March 10, 2013.

WCRC represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries. Its member churches are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.

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