Anglican game of thrones – The Namibian

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Anglican priests are calling on the church to lower the standards for the post of Bishop of the Diocese of Namibia, saying the bar has been set above their qualifications.

Two weeks ago, the church sent out nomination forms for candidate bishops in the Diocese of Namibia where those interested in the position must have a bachelor’s degree in theology.

The church will have its elective assembly next month in Odibo in the Ohangwena region where the 12th bishop of the diocese of Namibia will be elected.

DISSENTING VOICES

A series of voice notes from the church’s priests’ WhatsApp group, Clergy Matters, leaked to The Namibian show that several priests are in favor of lowering the requirements, with some proposing that the requirements be rejected.

“We don’t want a foreign bishop. They set these criteria taking into account the weakness of the diocese of Namibia. We say this because the outgoing bishop is from the same country as the archbishop. We could have another bishop from South Africa,” said one of the priests.

One of the reverends, who identified himself as Mathew, claimed that those in the upper echelons of the church do not have the interests of the church at heart, but serve their own interests.

He added that the church should elect an Oshiwambo-speaking person as bishop. He added, “If we elect a foreign bishop, when he comes for confirmation, the church will pay for his accommodation in guesthouses. Let’s work together and elect a Namibian bishop.

However, one of the contenders for the post of bishop, Taara Shalyefu, said in a voice note, also published in the group, that the criteria are in line with canons 4 and 18, which were revised in 2019 during the provisional synod. .

WOMAN BISHOP?

The Namibian is told the church has only one priest with a bachelor’s degree in theology, but one of her male colleagues said the female bishop may not get support because “the church doesn’t is not ready to have a female bishop”.

Vicar General of Office Nicky Barth instructed churchwardens to submit names of candidates for the office of bishop in accordance with the provisions of church canon.

It is also stated in the correspondence that for a priest to be considered for election he must be at least 40 years old.

Other requirements are that the candidate must have been ordained and in full-time ministry for at least 10 years.

Appointed priests must also have led a healthy Christian spiritual and social life; must have a good reputation; be a person of integrity; and must have experience in pastoral ministry.

The nomination is expected to be sent to Advisory Board Chairman Mathew Nghihangwa by March 4 this year.

The church has indicated that each nomination should have two linebackers, who should provide motivation in support of their nomination.

“The nominator must obtain the consent of the nominee, which must be submitted in writing. Both nomination supporters must provide a supporting motivation each for the candidate they are supporting. Also note that if the nominee is in full-time employment elsewhere, he must be prepared to step down and work full-time as a bishop, if elected.

HOPES

The Namibian is informed that those who are interested in the position are Anglican Priest St Thomas (Oshakati) Nangula Kathindi, Onangwe Parish Pastor Phillipus Hainane and their colleague St Michael Ongwediva Shalyefu who is also the Mayor of Ongwediva. However, none of the priests would have this qualification.

Contacted for comment two weeks ago, Shalyefu confirmed that he wanted to be a bishop and several people have reportedly approached him saying they want to nominate him.

“I will still have to wonder if you need to be spiritually ready, and the Spirit has not spoken to me. I will have an answer in March. My conscience is telling me to participate,” he said.

Kathindi declined to comment on the matter, saying she was still awaiting her nomination.

Anglican executive director Archford Musodza says the requirements are framed according to church canons.

He also says that these requirements apply not only to Namibia, but also to Anglican dioceses in South Africa, Lesotho, Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.

The bishop will replace Bishop Luke Pato, who retired last December. Pato, a South African clergyman, was posted to Namibia in 2016 as the Anglican Bishop of Namibia.

This was after Bishop Nathaniel Nakwatumba died in 2015. He was supposed to hold the post for three years, but in 2019 Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba extended his term for two more years.

He was sent to prepare the church for the election of a new Namibian bishop.

However, such elections never took place and the bishop would have taken the position for himself.

Several pastors have since been embroiled in a power struggle with Pato, with some being implicated for questioning the bishop’s legitimacy.

This led one of the priests of the church, Lukas Katenda, to form his Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of Namibia (REACH-NA).

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