Namibia: Okahao Elcin Parishioners Split

The Namibian – An attempt by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) Episcopate to resolve a squabble between the Western Diocese led by Bishop Josaphat Shanghala and members of the Okahao parish over the weekend has instead deepened the divisions at the highest level of the church.

The problem started when Bishop Shanghala, backed by some members of the Okahao parish decided that the pastor of Okahao, Hulda Shau-Aitana should be transferred to Okambebe parish in the same diocese. Shau Aitana and other members of the Okahao parish rejected the transfer and petitioned ELCIN presiding Bishop Shekutaamba VV Nambala early this year to intervene. They also demanded the suspension of Shanghala.After receiving the petition, Nambala appointed two commissions – one led by Reverend Phillips Henock and the other by the now retired Bishop Kleopas Dumeni – to investigate the squabbles.

The Henock Commission apparently recommended that Pastor Shau-Aitana be transferred as directed by the Western Diocese and the Dumeni Commission recommended that the Western Diocese and the two feuding groups from the Okahao parish be brought together to discuss this matter with the aim of reconciliation and finding a lasting solution to the problem.

The parish members who do not want the pastor to be transferred rejected both recommendations saying they were in favour of Shanghala and the Western Diocese leadership.

Nambala travelled to Okahao last weekend to discuss this problem with Shanghala, the Western Diocese leadership and the two Okahao parish groups. Many were hopeful that a lasting solution would be found, but the discussions only deepened the divisions with Nambala and ELCIN leadership siding with the group that rejected Shanghala’s decision while Shanghala and the other group insisted that Pastor Shau-Aitana be transferred.

“This state of affairs could be fatal for the unity of purpose and reconciliation between two ELCIN Episcopates and this is very unfortunate,” said a concerned member of ELCIN.

Tags: Namibia

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