Internationally, March is Women’s History Month. As March draws to a close, many websites, blogs, and other forms of social networking will taper off in featuring women’s history, but not at our ‘Herstory blog’. Every week, we feature the herstory of Church Women. As we prepare to step into April, we’ll look at another interesting characteristic of Australian Church Women and present more of the story of the Winifred Kiek Scholarship (WKS).
As previously mentioned,* the Rev. Winifred Kiek MA, BD, was a pioneer in the life and work of Australian women in the church. In 1963, the Interim Committee of Australian Church Women quickly recognised the importance of her work, once they were informed of the extent of her earlier efforts in researching the activities and status of church women.
The Rev. Harvey Perkins, General Secretary [1956–1967] of the Australian Council of Churches, wrote to Rev. Kiek advising her of the progress of forming Australian Church Women, and the hope of establishing a Winifred Kiek Scholarship for an Asian woman student. Even though the word student was used in his letter, the scholarship was to be for further training undertaken by church women who had already received basic training in their chosen field of Christian leadership, and for women who needed strengthening as Christians for their work in the world.
After much discussion and investigation, beginning around April 1963, the founding of the Winifred Kiek Scholarship was announced after the June 1964 meeting of the Interim Committee of ACW. The August 1964 edition of the ACW Newsletter published a brief overview of the Winifred Kiek Scholarship.
The first scholar selected, Connie Tan of Indonesia, began her further training in Australia in 1965.** Since then, a further 73 church women have been awarded a Winifred Kiek Scholarship.
During its 55 years, the scholarship has gone through a number of changes, and in its present form is a valuable means of further equipping church women from Australia, the Pacific Island Nations, and member countries of the Asian Church Women’s Conference.