The Rev. Charles Chiutula discerned that women in the Anglican Diocese of Upper Malawi were not participating as leaders and evangelists in the mission of the church, both because of cultural expectations and the absence of a platform for their ministry. He used EES grant funds to hold a five-day training for 40 women from three parishes, along with two open-air crusades. His preparation included research into how other denominations have effectively included women evangelists, and thorough stakeholdering with his Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Brighton Malasa, the archdeacon Canon Titus Lezile, and the clergy of the three parishes who sent women to the training: Fr. Eddington Matendeu, Fr. Wilfred Mtwana, and Fr. Austin Lwanda. He also enlisted two women facilitators for the training: Mrs. Elizabeth Bai Chirwa (Anglican) and Mrs. Norah Kandapo (Presbyterian. Each of them holds the Bachelor of Divinity degree.
The training covered the topics of evangelism, prayer and preaching. Seven of the women preached at two open air crusades, while others led prayers and were effective in door-to-door visitation. Fr. Chiutula shares there has been an impact in both church attendance and in giving. He further shares that the women involved have been transformed through the leadership opportunity. He has seen their leadership flourish in women’s groups (Daughters of the King, Mothers Union) as well as in congregational worship. Some have been invited to other churches to train women in leading prayer and preaching. He notes that his own experience and perception of women in ministry was transformed by the project.
Since completing his studies at the School of Theology, the University of the South (Sewanee), Chiutula has been appointed Dean of the Leonard Kamungu Theological College in Zomba, Malawi. He plans to encourage his fellow professors to include examples of women leaders in their classes, and he will continue to use the example of this project and the importance of women leaders in his own Missiology class.