WINDHOEK, Namibia/GENEVA, 3 June 2016 (LWI) -- Over 500 guests celebrated the official launch of preparations for the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) at Parliament Gardens in the Namibian capital Windhoek on 2 June.
High-level guests included LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and Dr Nickey Iyambo, Vice President of the Republic of Namibia. The country’s political and business leaders, representatives of diplomatic corps, other churches and visitors from abroad also attended. Several choirs performed a moving presentation of hymns and songs written especially for the Assembly.
The climax of the celebration was the lighting of a lantern by LWF Council member and Namibian Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Bishop em. Dr Zephania Kameeta. He declared the “hot phase” of the Assembly preparations had begun and invited all present to get involved.
The three LWF member churches in Namibia will host the LWF Assembly and Reformation anniversary commemoration from 10 to 16 May 2017 in Windhoek.
“How can we welcome our brothers and sisters and greet them in a typical Namibian way?” Kameeta asked. He appealed to volunteers, particularly young people, to go up to visitors and show them around. “We need your cooperation and your contribution.” He underlined the fact that Protestants and Catholics mainly lived together in peace today. “We will mark the Reformation anniversary in reconciled communion with our Catholic brothers and sisters,” he stated.
Younan recalled that this was the second time an LWF Assembly would be taking place in Africa. The LWF communion is looking forward to “Namibian friendliness and the Namibian smile”. The 2017 events would be an opportunity to experience the relevance of the gospel in a Namibian context. Namibia has a lot of experience to contribute, he said, adding, “The example of Namibia shows us that no conflict, no oppression, no apartheid can kill the yearning of a people for freedom and human rights.”
Iyambo, who himself is Lutheran, stressed the good relations between the state and the Lutheran churches. The Lutheran churches supported many people when they were insecure. He thanked the LWF for its support during the country’s struggle for independence, and for its scholarship program that had benefited many Namibians.
A strong sense of ownership
Bishop Dr Shekutaamba Nambala, president of the United Church Council – Namibian Evangelical Lutheran Churches, recalled LWF’s support during the independence struggle, resettlement of those returning from exile, and humanitarian assistance during the drought in 2013. “For many years in Namibia’s struggle for freedom and independence, LWF fought with us. In 2017 we want to show the LWF the land they fought for. We want to show them the most Lutheran country in Africa.”
Local Assembly Planning Committee chairperson Rev. Dr Emma Nangolo said, “The launch of the LWF Twelfth Assembly is an exciting moment of the preparatory process as we move towards the climax in May 2017. The Assembly will touch the Namibian ground and the hearts of her people. As such it needs to be guaranteed with a high sense of ownership by all stakeholders.”
The event closed with all participants singing the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God, in many languages, after which the three bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic Namibia and the German –speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia pronounced the benediction.
Assembly website launched
A website for the Twelfth Assembly has been launched at www.lwfassembly.org. It will be a hub for communications related to the Assembly and will offer information for delegates, media, guests and others interested in the Assembly.