Okahao ELCIN congregation dispute continues

ONGWEDIVA: Some members of the Okahao congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia in Omusati Region demanded to know if they should go to the church service this Sunday or not.
This followed a negative attitude of members of that congregation refused to attend the church service that was supposed to be headed by the leader of their Western Diocese, Bishop Josaphat Shanghala, last Sunday.
They chased away Shanghala and the secretary of the Diocese, Pastor Paulus Heita. This followed a disagreement between congregation members and the Western Diocese leadership over the planned transfer of Pastor Hulda Shau-Haitana from Okahao to Okambebe congregation in the Ohangwena Region since last year.
The Diocese leadership tried to push the transfer through, while the Okahao congregation members continue to oppose the transfer and at the same time accused Shanghala of autocratic leadership.
“We want to know if we should go to church for service tomorrow or the service is still suspended like last Sunday when we could not attend. Bishop Shanghala, as a leader, should decide,” a prominent member of the Okahao congregation, who preferred not to be named, demanded.
Approached for comment, Shanghala said it is up to the congregation’s leadership to decide if the will be service or not, as there is nothing he can do currently.
“They humiliated and chased us away like a dog last Sunday. Therefore, I have no mandate to decide at this stage until such a time the whole leadership of the diocese will decide on the way forward,” Shanghala replied.
Shanghala told Nampa that the leadership of the diocese will sit for the first time to formally deliberate and decide on the issue only on Monday.
None of the leadership of the congregation was immediately available to give comment as of Saturday afternoon.
(edited)ONGWEDIVA: The leadership of the Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) will convene for the first time on Monday to discuss Okahao ELCIN congregants’ refusal to be addressed by Bishop Josaphat Shanghala.
Shanghala, who is the head of that diocese, confirmed this on Saturday.
The Okahao ELCIN congregation falls under Shanghala’s diocese, but members of the congregation have developed a negative attitude towards him starting last year.
The congregation went to the extent of refusing to attend the church service that was supposed to be led by Shanghala on 09 February.
Although they managed to chase away Shanghala and the secretary of the diocese, Pastor Paulus Heita, the church service of that Sunday was completely disrupted and did not take place.
The incident is the result of a disagreement between congregation members and the Western Diocese leadership over the planned transfer of Pastor Hulda Shau-Haitana from Okahao to the Okambebe congregation in the Ohangwena Region last year.
The Diocese leadership tried to push the transfer through, while the Okahao congregation members continue to oppose the transfer and at the same time accuse Shanghala of an autocratic leadership style.
This news agency understands that a normal church service led by Shau-Haitana took place on Sunday.
Shanghala on Saturday said it was up to the congregation’s leadership whether they would resume with normal services, as the leadership of the diocese has not yet decided on what action should be taken regarding the congregation’s negative attitude towards his leadership.
“They humiliated and chased us away like dogs last Sunday. Therefore, I have no mandate to decide at this stage. The whole leadership of the diocese will decide on the way forward,” he said.