By Wezi Tjaronda
As the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) celebrates 30 years of existence it still has a lot to do to live up to its mission statement, its general secretary Reverend Philip Strydom has said.
Part of the CCN statement reads: “CCN is a fellowship for Christian churches committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in serving and caring for God’s people.”
To fulfil this mission, Strydom says the council will have to work hard for the country to eradicate poverty, reduce the HIV prevalence rate and empower the youth and address gender inequality.
Most Namibians still live in abject poverty despite the country having plenty of natural resources. National Planning Commission statistics indicate that 35 percent of the Namibian population lives below the poverty datum line of US$1 per day.
While 60 percent of the nation’s riches are enjoyed by 10 percent of the population, the living standards of the remaining 90 percent is comparable to those living in Least Developed Countries.
“It is unacceptable that the poverty levels are still high when a few benefit from our natural resources while the majority are excluded,” said Strydom
The HIV prevalence rate is19.9 percent, which makes Namibia one of the countries with the highest prevalence rates in the world, while 60 percent of the youth in Namibia is unemployed.
Although progress has been made in addressing the gender balance in the National Assembly, Namibia has other gender-related challenges including imbalances at economic decision-making level and also in cultural and social attitudes, where women are persistently perceived on traditional roles in society.
Strydom said the council wanted to focus on the youth who are particularly marginalised and also tackle prejudices against women.
Started in the early 1970s as a loose alliance of Namibian churches (Christian Centre), which spoke with a united voice against injustice on behalf of the voiceless and initiated relief projects for the poor, it was revamped and became the Council of Churches in Namibia on October 17, 1978.
Looking back, Strydom said the council wants to give recognition and honour people that have played a role in the council’s achievements.
The CCN will also use the anniversary to look into what the future holds for the religious body. The theme of the celebrations, to be held on October 17, is “A story of Courage and Faith for Unity, Justice and Peace”.
Strydom said the celebrations would also look into the important phases the council has gone through, namely the first 10 years before independence, 10 years after and the current phase.
The past 30 years have seen the CCN bringing together a diverse Christian family. Strydom said the council was an exception in that the Roman Catholic Church, which normally has its own council, is part of the CCN.
The CCN also prides itself as one of the organisations that contributed to the fight against apartheid and the attainment of independence.
Strydom said the CCN has over the years improved the standards of living of poor communities and provided both formal and adult education.
The national celebration is set for Windhoek but other regional celebrations will be held in Rundu and the north.