Angry ELCRN Members Petition Bishop

Twenty members of Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) were locked out on Friday, after the church’s bishop, Ernest Gamxamub, refused to take their petition.

The members said they had already informed Gamxamub last week Tuesday, of the plans to present the petition to him.

Infuriated by the lockout at the church’s headquarters in Windhoek, the members stood for about an hour trying to convince Gamxamub, who remained calm but still refused to receive the petition.

In the petition, the disgruntled members claim that the acting general secretary, Wilfred Diergaardt, and the director of finance, Leonard de Vries are illegally occupying the positions, which they want revoked because the two were appointed by the retired bishop, Zephania Kameeta.

The petition further said according to article 23 of the ELCRN constitution, Gamxamub, as the bishop, has the right to take decisions independently and that the church council shall endorse such decisions.

“We, therefore, call on the church council to revoke these appointments and re-aertise these positions. This process will be seen as fair if others have a chance to also compete (for the posts),” read part of the petition.

One of the petitioners, Gerson Doeseb, accused Kameeta of renewing both Diergaardt and De Vries positions just a month before he retired.

“He did not have the mandate to do that. Moreover, the positions were not aertised as should have been the case,” said Doeseb.

Speaking to The Namibian on Monday, Kameeta said he never made any decision without consulting the church council.

“I never took any decisions on my own during the 11 years I worked there. This is a blatant malicious lie,” said Kameeta, adding that if one finds a drunk pastor in a church, then that would warrant immediate action but after which the council will have to be immediately informed.

On his part, De Vries said his appointment has nothing to do with Kameeta since it was a church council decision.

“The position was aertised in 2006 in accordance with the church constitution and in 2007 I was appointed after applying for it. After my contract lapsed, an evaluation was done and the church council offered me the position, an offer that I accepted,” said De Vries.

He said Kameeta had to sign the offer since he was the chairperson of the church council.

Furthermore, the petition alleges that the church was experiencing a spiritual decline and that there is unhappiness and favouritism that should be dealt with.

Another petitioner Isaac Swartz expressed disappointed with what he described as Gamxamub’s lack of concern for his people, especially after he locked them outside.

Gamxamub later told The Namibian that he did not have enough time to inform the church council about the petition and urged the petitioners to address it to the administrative board.

Although The Namibian could not get comment from Diergaardt since last Thursday last week, Pastor Paul Kisting defended him saying according to the church constitution article 27, people occupying the positions in question may be appointed one more time after six years on a contractual basis.

On the 14 pastors whose marriage officer certificates were taken away, Kisting said the decision was made in 2011 by the highest body of the church that one cannot work elsewhere and for the church at the same time.

“Every institution has its laws and rules. You cannot act randomly. This is not how the church operates. The church has the right to bring you to task. You cannot work full time for an outside institution and remain a pastor at this church,” said Kisting.

But two of the dismissed pastors, Salomon April and Gotthard Gurirab, said according to the church’s constitution, ordination is a rite under which “pastors are ordained for life and their titles can never be taken away”.

They also said the issue of taking long leave has been there since the time of Kameeta, contrary to what Diergaardt’s assertion that this did not exist.

“The late Pastor Eliphas Eiseb, Bishop Zephania Kameeta and Pastor Petrus Van Zyl, to mention but a few, had all benefited from the same system called long leave. It is so easy for some people to forget things when they want to trample on other (people’s rights),” said April and Gurirab.I confirm that I read the Terms and Conditions and that I accept it.

Source : The Namibian