Community members at King Kauluma have revolted against a church said to be operating illegally in the area, which they have also accused of sodomising schoolgirls who in the past have been camping at the church and in the process apparently missed classes.
There are reports surfacing claiming some female congregants have even fallen pregnant although New Era could not independently verify these allegations.
Some of the women suspected to have fallen pregnant at the church have sprung to the defence of its pastor saying they were already pregnant when they came to the church.
At least 58 learners have been confirmed to have been missing classes as a result of camping at the New Jerusalem Church to receive blessings and spiritual healing.
Pastor Immanuel Mercy of New Jerusalem Church, who hails from Sauyemwa in the Kavango East Region, dismissed all the allegations levelled against his church.
New Jerusalem Church has been in existence for almost a year though it has been operating without any valid documents from the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN) and the local authority. New Era can reveal Pastor Mercy’s request to open a church had the blessing of an acting headwoman Rebecca Petrus, though this was done without the community’s blessing.
The church has been accused of having caused division among the community with a handful supporting it, while the majority are demanding its immediate shutdown.
Tensions could be felt among angry community members who gathered on Monday along with Oniipa constituency councillor Jerry Gwena, who acted on behalf of the chairperson of the regional council, and Leevi Reinholdt, councillor of Nehale Lyampingana, demanding the closure of the church.
“When we leave today we want this church to be closed down with immediate effect because it is operating illegally. Once you get all the relevant documents to operate you may come back but this is at the discretion of the community whether they want it back or not,” stressed Gwena, to cheers of the crowd who shouted “it should be demolished by today, not any other day”.
Gwena further challenged the pastor to produce proof he was operating within the legal realm, but he however failed and responded: “I have already applied for the necessary legal documents and I will present them as soon as I get them.”
It is understood this was not the first time the community had expressed its disapproval of the church and police were once called to the area and even warned the pastor to stop his illegal practice, but the order has been defied.
In his defence, Mercy claims he had no intention of establishing a church in the area but it was due to immense pressure for and need of his services by community members.
“I am a missionary pastor who has been offering door to door praying services in different areas and towns, including Oshakati and Windhoek. I wasn’t intending on opening a church in King Kauluma, but it was due to my followers who requested my help because they have seen and heard how I have helped others,” stressed Mercy.
He indicated he will close the church if the community insists they do not need its services.
Mercy also dismissed claims his church was hindering the education of learners, saying: “At the church there were only two kids and they all passed and none of them were camping at the church, my followers are adults.”