By Linda Post Bushkofsky
Being an armchair historian, I’ve spent some time with records of predecessor women’s organizations in North American Lutheran churches. Nowhere else have I found the fond regard Women of the ELCA extends to Katharina von Bora Luther (January 29, 1499 – December 20, 1552). What is it about the woman we affectionately call Katie that fascinates us so? She is both role model and muse, an example of someone living Reformation theology (see the Rev. Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson).
Katie’s been walking with us. For the 10th anniversary of Women of the ELCA in 1998, an endowment was established, the Katharina von Bora Luther Endowment Fund, to fund programs and resources outside the annual budget. We’ve published a program resource about Katie’s life, A Bold Life of Faith: Katharina von Bora Luther, that invites us to examine our own lives of faith more deeply. [Available in English and Spanish.]
We produced a video organized around a fictional letter written to Katie, letting her know how modern Lutheran women were living out their faith.
The endowment has enabled innovative and creative faith-inspired activities in leadership development, global sharing, and living theology since its creation. Four videos offer personal testimonies. An article summarizes experiences of other women. Several synodical organizations celebrate their use of seed grants from Katie’s Fund, received in 2023.
Happy birthday, Katie! And here we are in 2024, observing Katie’s 525th birthday on this very day and raising $1 million to further extend the ministry reach of what we’ve all come to call Katie’s Fund. The $1 million campaign is called 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years. The campaign was launched in mid-2022 (watch the launch video here), and today we’re more than one-third of the way to our goal. The campaign is designed to multiply the reach and impact of women’s leadership and ministry in the church, society, and world.
“When Katie’s Fund was introduced, it was said, ‘There’s a little bit of Katie in all of us.’ As Women of the ELCA, we can all relate to her living out her life in bold and innovative ways,” says Myrna Wells-Ulland, president of Women of the ELCA for the 2023-2026 triennium. “Now, 525 years after Katie’s birth, let’s honor her by being sure there’s more than a little bit of our financial resources in the 2122 campaign. Let’s start by making a gift of $525 to say ‘Happy Birthday, Katie!’”
Make your gift today. There are several ways you can make this birthday gift of $525. There’s a quick and easy online option. Select “Katie’s Fund” in the pull-down menu. You can send a check made out to Women of the ELCA, noting “Katie’s Fund” on the memo line; mail that check to Women of the ELCA, ELCA Gift Processing Center, PO Box 1809, Merrifield VA 22116-8009. Using that same mailing address, congregational units can make a gift by check, accompanied by Form B. You can call 800-638-3522 to make a gift with a credit card. Operators can assist you Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central.
And into the future? Lots of plans are in place. Here are just a few. Congregational units will be invited to support the $1 million campaign. Our brothers in Lutheran Men in Mission will be invited to honor or remember bold women of faith in their lives with a gift to the campaign. A new application process will be unveiled, inviting individuals and groups within Women of the ELCA to apply for a grant from Katie’s Fund. Visit the Katie’s Fund webpage to stay up-to-date with all the latest news about Katie’s Fund and the innovative and creative ministries the endowment supports.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. In that role, she is directing the 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years campaign.
Cover photo: The Katherina von Bora Luther museum, Torgau, Germany. There is a bust of her displayed there — one side shows Katie as wife, mother and entrepeneur. The other side depicts her as Katie the nun.