More than 400 people gathered at the Protestant Unity Church of Namibia (Oruuano) in Katutura on Saturday to celebrate the church’s 60th anniversary as well as the ordination and installation of Wylie Vekarapo Upi as its bishop.
“The first thing I have to say to the people of Oruuano is be patient and act and be part of the solutions to social problems,” Upi told the congregation.
The church originated from the then Rhenish Mission Church in 1955, after numerous meetings by the Herero Chief’s Council in the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s under the leadership of Chief Hosea Kutako.
The church boasts over 2015 branches all over Namibia and has ten senior reverends and more than 30 pastors across the country.
Upi succeeds Bishop Azariah Kamburona, who died earlier this year.
Upi said he was “deeply touched” by the prayers and welcome he received by the faithful. “It’s real easy to feel at home among you,” he said.
Among those in attendance were Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua, Ovaherero Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, Dr Gerhard Buys of the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary,, Archbishop Peter Tjiuombo and representatives of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN).
Former Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) Bishop Zephania Kameeta delivered the sermon. “You’re young, at least in my mind,” he said to Upi.
Nevertheless, Kameeta says he is confident that Upi is well-prepared. “You have that great capacity to become a bishop at heart,” Kameeta, now the minister of poverty eradication, said to Upi.
Upi, who acquired an accounting qualification from the University of Namibia in 1994, was born in Windhoek to Christaline Tjamuaha Upi and the late Reverend Petrus Mupanda Upi, a well-known Oruuano pastor.
He has served in various positions in the church, including deputy secretary general under the leadership of then secretary general the late Ephraim Hei.
After the passing on of Hei in 1995, Upi took over the position of secretary general.
In 2005, Upi was nominated as pastor by the late bishop Kamburona to serve in the Windhoek congregation.
In 2013, a decision was taken by the Synod to rear Kamburona to an archbishop of the church.
In March 2014, also at a Synod, Upi was nominated by all branches to be consecrated as the next bishop of Oruuano in Namibia.
Most of his relatives, including his mother and siblings, were in attendance. Most of his relatives cried in the front row as they watched their sibling become bishop.
He schooled at Bethold Himumuine, St Barnabas and Augustinuim High School before attending the University of Namibia.
He has worked in the Office of the Prime Minister and First National Bank of Namibia, and is currently employed at Agribank as the regional manager of Otjozondjupa, Erongo and Kunene regions.
During his closing remarks, an emotional Upi thanked his friends and family for the support they rendered him in the past.