German clergy visit Namibia
A German delegation from the Evangelical Church in Rhineland recently paid a visit to its partner church – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELRCN).
The 12-member delegation, led by the bishop of that church, Präses Nikolaus Schneider, was in the country on an eight-day visit which was meant to strengthen relationships with its partner church and for the Präses and Bishop Zephania Kameeta to bid farewell to each other. Both heads of the two churches retire next year.
The group, which was in the country since 19 January, visited Otjivero and Omitara to see the beneficiaries of the Basic Income Grant. They also met government officials and the leadership of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCIN-GELC).
They also visited the Tanidare Empowerment Centre, the Evangelical Lutheran Church AIDS Programme (ELCAP) office in Kalkfeld and circuits in Otjiwarongo and Tsumeb, as well as the ELCAP national offices in Keetmanshoop and Bethanie.
Präses Schneider and his wife Anne also met Egon Kochanke, Germany’s ambassador to Namibia before leaving the country on 24 January. This is the third time Präses Schneider was in Namibia since he took leadership of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland in 2003. In 2005, Schneider launched the booklet, ‘100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Colonial War of Liberation in Namibia’. He handed over 101 microfilms from the Archives and Museum Foundation, Wuppertal, which contained material that documents the work of the Rhenish Mission and field files of mission stations of both Namibia and South Africa, to the National Archives of Namibia.
The ties between the two churches date back to 170 years ago. The first missionary to Namibia came in 1842 from Germany and the ELCRN is the oldest church established by the Rhenish mission.
As this was during the colonial era, a small group of missionaries disassociated themselves from the actions of their government while others supported it by being silent.
“During the apartheid years, some members of the church supported it but others such as women were in solidarity with us. A good number from that church joined the anti apartheid movement. Some of the younger missionaries were expelled from Namibia,” says ELCRN Bishop Kameeta.
The two churches today cooperate on a number of issues including climate change, unequal distribution of wealth in the world, justice and peace, HIV/AIDs as well as exchanging missionaries. In the past six to 10 years, the ELCRN has sent missionaries to her partner church in Germany.
Kameeta says the church was happy to receive the delegation and that their visit is proof of the deep relationship between the two churches, which is also in the form of partner relationships with circuits and congregations of both churches.
The rest of the delegation left the country on Thursday (January 26).