The Namibian (Windhoek)

11 February 2013

Namibia: Okahao Congregation Want Their Bishop Suspended

MEMBERS of the Okahao Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) in the Omusati Region have called for the suspension of their Western Diocese Bishop Josaphat Shanghala, alleging that he is selfish, unfair and autocratic.

A large group of the Okahao congregation, led by their parish council, visited the Oniipa ELCIN head office on Friday where they handed over a petition to Presiding Bishop Shekutamba VV Nambala demanding the suspension of Bishop Shanghala.

They accused Bishop Shanghala and his Western Diocese Executive Committee of having decided to transfer Pastor Hulda Shau-Aitana from Okahao to Okambebe without consulting the congregation.

They also claimed that Bishop Shanghala and his executive committee wanted to appoint a deacon to the Okahao congregation without consulting with the congregation members and that he demolished the old parish house without informing them.

They said the Okahao congregation was heavily divided under the leadership of Bishop Shanghala and there was no peace among the congregation members.

They claimed that the Okahao congregation has many problems but the ELCIN Western Diocese has done nothing to solve them even though they know of the problems. They also accused the leadership of refusing to meet with them.

The group said Shau-Aitana is a very good and hardworking pastor who has united the Okahao congregation after finding it divided a few years ago.

Before she joined the parish, the petitioners claimed, the finances were in the red and she has turned things around by organising fundraising activities and building a new pastor's residence.

The members said the pastor went out of her way to visit elderly people in villages, something others hardly did.

They also asked the Presiding Bishop to appoint a committee to investigate the reasons why the congregation's house was demolished as well as the missing materials and the congregation's alleged debts.

They were assured that the Church Council would discuss their concerns and report back to them assoon as possible.

When approached for comment, Bishop Shanghala said the decision to transfer Pastor Shau-Aitana had been done procedurally and in accordance with the ELCIN church constitution. He said, it was not his own decision as some congregation members claimed but one taken by him and the Western Diocese executive committee.

Shanghala said Shau-Aitana was transferred because she refused to accept the assistant deacon the Western Diocese had assigned to her.

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