Church Accused of Forcefully Moving Followers

EVANGELICAL Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN)’s Reverend Mateus Ampweya of the Onesi Parish has dismissed claims made by unhappy congregants that they are being moved without their consent from that parish to Iishanaputa Church in Outapi Constituency in Omusati region.

Ampweya explained that as per the constitution of the ELCIN, congregants within certain church borders are moved to any ELCIN church that is nearer to them to avoid overpopulating one particular church.

“Some congregants at Onesi Parish do not want to adhere to the rules and fail to understand that they have to move to Iishanaputa because it is nearer to them. Instead, they choose to make false allegations, claiming that they are being forcibly moved to Iishanaputa without their consent, which is untrue. We are doing things according to the church’s constitution and not our own way,” said Ampweya. He said the Iishanaputa Church was established about 10 years ago. It, however, never had congregational status, with communities around Iishanaputa either belonging to the Onesi congregation or the Eunda congregation.

He added that a meeting was held earlier this year at Oshaala Church to brief the congregants on the recent decision to relocate some of them to Iishanaputa church, as it had recently gained congregational status. However, many of the members expressed their dissatisfaction with the move, saying they wanted to be granted their right to choose which congregation they belong to. Many of the unhappy congregants who reside at Oshaala, which is located between Iishanaputa and Onesi, claim that Onesi was closer to them than Iishanaputa. They also complained that their church files were transferred from Onesi to Iishanaputa without their consent.

The congregants also complained that the church was selective in choosing who was to join the Iishanaputa congregation. The allegations imply that some prominent community members who are closer to Iishanaputa than Oshaala have been allowed to stay as members of the Onesi congregation while those who live closer to Onesi have been moved to Iishanaputa.

The congregants told The Namibian that they flatly refused to be moved because they have been part of the Onesi congregation for generations. Others just want to be allowed to exercise their right to choose which church congregation they should belong to.

Ampweya made it clear that he was not affected by the congregants’ verbal attacks as it was allegedly not his decision to move them.

Source : The Namibian