18 April 2019

Namibia: No End in Sight for Elcrn Infighting

Windhoek — Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia (ELCRN) who are aggrieved by the process used to determine the new bishop of the church vowed on Tuesday this week that they will leave no stone unturned to challenge the current process of electing bishops adopted by the current leaders of the church.

According to Welfried Leyden !Naibab, who took the church to court to have the process nullified, the eligible criteria stipulated in the church constitution were "largely and blatantly" transgressed.

Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula ruled against them on Monday and found that the applicants had no locus standi to represent the members of the church, they purported to represent.

!Naibab and Seth !Gaeb, who was the second applicant in the matter, however said during the press conference that they wanted to make it clear they were not acting unilaterally and in isolation, but has the "groundswell" backing of disgruntled members of the ELCRN across width and breath of Namibia. "We were merely mandated to take the action in our personal names assured of full technical, financial, moral, spiritual and logistical backing by the broader membership," they claimed.

Judge Angula agreed with the sentiments of the lawyers representing the church, Advocate Tuafeni Muhongo instructed by Appolus Shimakaleni that they are not bishop candidates, were not personally prejudiced by the current process and did not join forces with any of the eligible pastors who had been adversely effected by the process and as such were not the right persons to bring the application.

According to !Naibab, who addressed the gathering at a local hotel, they, as bona fide members of the ELCRN, and the majority of the membership of the church "respectfully and vehemently" disagree with the judgment.

According to him, as bona fide members of the church, they are convinced that they are entitled to relief they sought, being the nullification of the list of candidates compiled by the church's electoral commission on November 13 last year and the nominations of Bishops candidate at Parish Level conducted on February 24 this year.

In reply to the press conference, the bishop of the church Ernst //Gamxamûb called on the ELCRN fraternity to work for the unity of the church and reprimanded the aggrieved that their conduct will not be tolerated and all who made them guilty of such conduct will be dealt with according to the statutes of the ELCRN. Be informed that my office is aware of those who made themselves guilty of the above.

He said the church have structures through which complains can be lodged, but he noticed that members want to jump stages, which cannot be entertained. "It is nonetheless disappointing to observe that retired pastors and misguided elements who already broke away from the ELCRN, are the ones who are sowing discontent and confusion and misleading the membership of the ELCRN," the bishop stated categorically.

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