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Sligo Women Drink Tea for Scholarships
Story by Taashi Rowe
Mary MacFarlane and Megan Conway enjoy the tea and silent auction fundraiser at Sligo church that benefits a women’s scholarship fund.
An evening of drinking tea and eating scones with friends from church may seem like just another fun activity to some, but to a woman in Cambodia, it means a year of tuition to university. At a Monday evening tea, women at Potomac Conference’s Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., raised more than $800* for college scholarships.
The tea served as a pleasant backdrop for the church’s chapter of the Scholarshipping Our Sisters (SOS) program fundraiser. Calling the event their Spring Tea and Silent Auction, organizers explained that SOS is a program started by the General Conference Women Ministries Department to give women scholarships to Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. While the women sipped tea and nibbled treats; listened to “I’m a Little Teapot” played on the piano in various genres; and browsed gift baskets, china, floral centerpieces and other auction items, foremost in their minds was the real purpose of the evening. “We wanted the ladies to think about the people whose lives they are impacting,” shared Carolyn Kujawa, a Sligo church member and the SOS chapter leader.
In their midst that very evening was one of the women impacted by SOS—their very own Debbie Eisele, the church’s associate pastor, who received a scholarship from the group when she was studying religion in Australia in the 1990s.
From the program’s inception in 1991, Women’s Ministries has bestowed a total of 1,980 scholarships to women in over 118 countries amounting to $876,908. This year alone, they have given scholarships to women in Madagascar, Mongolia, the Philippines and Israel. Sligo’s contribution will add to the program goal of raising $85,000 for scholarships this year.
The idea for the tea came about when a Sligo member donated china to the group, which also holds yard sales as fundraisers. Instead of selling the various pieces of ornate china, Eisele suggested hosting the tea. Kujawa took the idea, ran with it and recruited other Sligo women to help prepare for the evening.
One of the ladies, Karen Banner, even brought tea and several boxes of china! She said she likes to follow her mother-in-law's example of using the best china—not hiding it away for a future use that never comes around! Another participant, Carla Conway, and her mother, Charlotte, made themed baskets to present for auction.
Francia Bissereth, a public university student, doesn’t benefit from the scholarships, but says, “I’m glad to give. It doesn’t matter that I don’t receive. I remember receiving a book scholarship once and how much of a difference it made to my education.”
Heather Dawn Small, General Conference Women’s Ministries director, said she is thrilled to learn of the efforts of the women at Sligo church. “These scholarships are absolutely vital for so many women globally,” she said. “Without help, many women would not be able to attend any school at all, let alone a Christian school. It’s also vital to our church as many of these women, in turn, give back to the church in many ways.”
The Sligo chapter is a first for SOS, and they are hoping other churches will launch a chapter as well. Click here to learn more about the program.
*As of June 6, 2013, Sligo church's Scholarshipping Our Sisters Tea and Silent Auction raised $1,200.