Monday, 17 February 2014

SUSPEND OKAHAO PARISH – PASTOR CALLS

Bishop Josephat Shanghala
A WESTERN Diocese Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) pastor has called for the suspension of Okahao Parish activities pending the resolution of the problems that have besieged the church.
Pastor Ferdinand Nashidengo’s calls come after Okahao parishioners boycotted a service that was supposed to have been conducted by Bishop Josephat Shanghala at the weekend. The parishioners also booed at the bishop as their way of protesting the transfer of Pastor Hulda Shau-Aitana from the church. The decision to transfer Shau-Aitana was made in 2012, and no reasons were given.

Church members even presented a petition to the Presiding ELCIN Bishop Shakutamba Nambala, and the church council in Oniipa over the issue.
In the petition, the members accused Bishop Shanghala of failing to lead the diocese, especially regarding the transfer of Shau-Aitana, which they described as unreasonable.

Shanghala, who retires this month, had visited the parish with the hope of finalising the transfer of Shau-Aitana to Okambebe Parish also under the Western Diocese but met resistance from parishioners.
The church council then appointed a commission led by Reverend Fillipus Henock to investigate the problem and the  Henock commission  recommended  that Shau-Aitana be transfered as directed by the Western Diocese.

The congregation rejected the recommendation and the church council appointed a reconciliation commission led by Retired Bishop Kleopas Dumeni. The congregation once again rejected the reconciliation commission’s initiative.

The church council then appointed a high-powered delegation led by Bishop Nambala to discuss the impasse with Shau-Aitana and parish members.   This initiative came to naught. Apparently not keen to leave office before the issue was resolved, Bishop Shanghala, who will be succeeded by Bishop Veiko Munyika, visited the Okahao parish to discuss Shau-Aitana’s transfer once more.

The Okahao parish council, however, refused to meet Bishop Shanghala and his delegation, which included the Diocese Secretary Reverend Paulus Heita on Saturday.

On Sunday, Bishop Shanghala apparently intended to conduct a church service but chaos erupted as parishers booed  him until he abandoned the service and left the church in a huff.
When contacted for comment, Heita said if the Okahao parish is to be closed, that decision must be taken by the church council, not the Western Diocese.

Asked whether Shau-Aitana’s transfer will be stopped when Bishop Shanghala hands over the reins to Bishop Munyika on 23 February, Heita said that transfer decision was not taken by Bishop Shanghala but by the Western Diocese.

“The new bishop will, together with the leadership of the Western Diocese, continue until this problem is solved,” Heita said.

“I remember  that long ago, a member of the Okahao Parish beat a Finnish missionary and because of that the parish was closed and church services suspended. This problem looks bigger, and  I have a feeling that the parish activities must be suspended indefinitely  while this problem is being solved,” suggested Pastor  Nashidengo.
Source: Namibian