Lutheran Churches Form United Front

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK History is in the making for Lutherans in Namibia who will on Sunday celebrate the induction of the United Church Council (UCC), as the beginning of a road towards one united Lutheran church in the country. The church has been divided for decades throughout a national history of colonialism and apartheid into three churches, namely Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) and the German speaking ELCIN-GELC. The first attempt to unite the churches was made by among others Bishop Leonard Auala and Reverend Eliphas Eiseb at a meeting held in Engela way back in 1972. Earlier this year, bishops of the three churches announced the formation of the UCC, to get the churches closer to one unified Church. On Sunday, Lutherans will witness the induction of the UCC at a ceremony to be held at the Inner City Lutheran church. The church is a pilot project of the unification process because it was built by the three Lutheran churches in the country. ELCIN GELC Bishop, Enrich Hertel, told the press yesterday the new body would enable the three churches to speak with a unified voice of all the Lutherans. The churches will still remain independent bodies, each with its own structures, finances and personnel. “The unification will make Lutherans speak with one voice on whatever is of concern. They will unite and form one voice as a family of Lutherans,” said he. The three churches will also unite in running the social projects funded by the churches. Hertel added that this was not the end of the road but just a platform for the final destination, which is the united Lutheran church. The churches have, however, not put a time frame to the united church because members of the three congregations and the pastors will have to form part of the process, according to Reverend Ngeno Nakamhela. “We need to build trust and also see how information is shared,” added Hertel. The Bishop said the new church structure will also affect the various partnership relations of the three Lutheran Churches. Discussions with ecumenical partners on how the bilateral partnerships of the past can be changed into a joint partnership of all Lutherans in Namibia will be discussed at an all partners’ meeting after the celebration. The induction ceremony, to be officiated by Managing Director of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA), Bishop Ambrose Moyo, will also be attended by Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Dr Ishmael Noko, and the Secretary General of the Council of Churches in Namibia, Reverend Phillip Strydom. President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Prime Minister Nahas Angula are among the invited guests to the historical ceremony. Other delegates to witness the ceremony are from US, Netherlands, Finland, Germany and South Africa. The 181 Lutheran congregations throughout Namibia churches have over one million members comprising of 652ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 members of ELCIN, 350 000 of ELCRN and 5 200 members of ELCIN-GELC. According to the constitution, UCC will consist of 15 members of which, ELCIN has six delegates, ELCRN five delegates and ELCIN (GELC) has four delegates.