The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is looking for nominees for a prize that rewards efforts to prepare women for leadership positions in church and society. The deadline for entries is Aug. 31, 2012.

The Sylvia Michel Prize is awarded once every two years to a woman in the Reformed church movement who provides exceptional leadership in promoting opportunities for women to serve as leaders. 

The award, established by women in senior positions in Swiss churches, is named for Europe’s first female church executive president. In 1980, Sylvia Michel became the first woman to be elected as the church council president of the Cantonal Church of Aargau, Switzerland.

A jury consisting of the women presidents of Reformed churches in Switzerland and Dora Arce-Valentín, executive secretary of the WCRC’s Office for Justice and Partnership, selects the winner. Winners receive $5,000.

The first winners of the prize that was inaugurated in 2009 were Esther Mombo, a Kenyan theology professor, and Dorcas Chebet Wamalwa, a theology student, who are working to prepare the way for women to be ordained in the Reformed Church in East Africa.

The church refuses to ordain women based on biblical interpretation and the church’s constitution. Mombo hopes that women like Wamalwa who are trained in theology will be able to articulate convincing reasons for women’s ordination.

In 2011 the Sylvia Michel Prize went to Agnes Lisulo Mulemwa, a retired Zambian nurse, who has established a center that provides training in income generation and supports rural church women who provide nutritional food to people living with HIV and AIDS.

Mulemwa works with a network of church women called the Anamoyo, who are known for their involvement in community service in the name of the church.

The 2013 prize winner will be announced in November. The prize will be awarded at a ceremony here in March 2013.

Eligibility criteria and an entry form are available at or by contacting

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.