Namibia’s President Hage Geingob delighted participants at the Lutheran World Federation 12th Assembly when he exclaimed, “I am a Lutheran!”
“I am Lutheran. Therefore, I am honored today to welcome my fellow Lutherans to Namibia on this very special occasion of the five hundredth Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation,” he said on 10 May in Windhoek, Namibia.
“The Lutheran church has a long and illustrious history in Namibia. It is therefore appropriate for me to reflect on the fact that Martin Luther who was an Augustinian friar, led his rebellion against corruption and injustices,” said Geingob.
Luther inspiration for liberation struggle
The Namibian president invited the participants at the Twelfth LWF Assembly to a dinner and cultural evening he hosted at the Windhoek Country Club. More than 800 people listened to his speech after opening remarks by Bishop Ernst //Gamxamub, chairperson of the United Church Council of the Namibia Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Namibia.
During the cultural evening the guests listened to the Orchestra of the Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg and two local choirs.
Geingob said Martin Luther was a great thinker and prolific writer, adding that the work of the reformer was “an inspiration to us during our country's liberation struggle against the injustices of apartheid and occupation.
“We are grateful to the Lutheran church not only for its moral support but also material support during our struggle against oppression. So, you can see why we have a special affinity with the Lutheran World Federation. We have 775,000 Lutherans in Namibia,” said Geingob.
He cited church leaders such as Bishop Shekutaamba V.V. Nambala, Bishop Zephania Kameeta (a former LWF Council member – now government cabinet minister), Bishop Leonard Auala, “just to mention a few,” and noted, “the Lutheran church has continued to guide Namibians to stand for justice, integrity and honesty anchored in faith.”
“Important reality for Christianity today”
LWF President, Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land thanked Geigob and the Namibian people and said the member churches of the LWF had “long been committed to accompanying Namibia in the cause of justice, confronting every kind of racism and apartheid.”
Younan said many people asked us why the LWF was holding its assembly in Namibia? “My answer is that Namibia represents an important reality for Christianity today. The density of Christians in the world is no longer in Europe, is no longer in the transatlantic global North but in the global South!”
“The continent of Africa is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is flourishing. This continent is where the freshness of the Gospel can be found. We honor the three Lutheran churches of Namibia, and the seriousness with which they are committed to mission work and prophetic diakonia,” Younan said.
“I see the spirit of the Reformation alive and well in Namibia today; the spirit of unity among the churches in Namibia is flourishing and interfaith dialogue is successful.”
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge thanked Namibia for all its support in making the Assembly work and noted that it was the first country which had granted entry visas to all the participants who had applied for an LWF event.