True to the preaching in Psalm 23, the Anglican Church in Namibia is facing a litmus test – which if failed – could spell an end of the country’s third biggest church denomination.
Power struggles, personality cults and failure to transform and keep up with times have been identified as some of the factors causing instability in the church.
Senior members of the church have laid the blame squarely at the feet of one of its now-departed products: Lukas Katenda.
To back this, a senior Anglican church leader who refused to be named, gave an example of several pastors who have dumped the Anglican church to join Katenda’s movement. Critics claim he caused havoc in church and now continues to cripple the church by poaching several Men of God to grow his denomination called The Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of Namibia which has undergone a meteoric rise in a space of a months.
Katenda, known widely for speaking his mind and telling things the way they are, was last year ostracised by the church for being too radical and questioning the leadership of the church. He also accused the church, at the time, of being too archaic and failing to keep up with the modern times.
Since all churches are made up of sinners saved by God’s grace, it is likely that all churches will experience conflict at one time or another. For the Anglican church in Namibia: that time has arrived.
Katenda acknowledged that several pastors joined his movement from the Anglican Church, but denied any wrongdoing.
Reverends Petrus Hamunyela, Eugenia Nghifilayi, Olivia Hamukoto and Kaino Shimada are some of the Anglican preachers who joined Katenda.
“The pastors want to do away with ceremonies and traditions and fix their eyes on the Lord. They have joined my church as of the 1st of January 2018. They were not approached by me; in church one does not take those kinds of risks.
I am very serious with the gospel and people need to come to the church of Jesus Christ and not to me,” he said during an interview this week.
Katenda maintains that he opted to resign from the Anglican Church where he cut his holy cloth because he was not granted the opportunity to bring about change.
“Why should I be held responsible for the mess in the church? They must indicate with facts that I am responsible for the mess. They themselves created the mess, when I left them I made clear communication to them only. They then sent out long letters to the congregations about my resignation further warning the congregations not to allow me to have services or use the prayer or hymn book,” said Katenda who denied that he is the root cause of the mess that has ensued the church.
Katenda was the secretary general for the Anglican Diocese for the past eight years.
He further says that he had a very cordial relationship with the late Bishop of the church but when certain individuals which he referred to as ‘Johnny came late’ joined the tables turned for the worse.
“Those who were just playing around and later showed up at church are the ones to blame. The issue is the leadership problem, instead of thinking theologically or biblically they create stories, Katenda said.
“It is not my mess, it is their own mess.”
“The church leadership is simply sleeping; they have reduced the gospel of God. People are living unpleasant lives and suffering but the gospel is nowhere to be found.
The gospel has been reduced to people wearing gowns. Preaching is not wearing of clothes or gowns. We need pastors preaching the gospel more than pastors wearing gowns.”
Katenda strongly cautioned pastors to refrain from giving instruction to people but should rather preach the truth. Sarcastically referring to Anglican pastors as only wanting to wear gowns rather than preaching the truth.
“We don’t need clothes we need the gospel and that is the language the reformed church is preaching to the people,” he said.
According to Katenda, his church is Christian and Anglican based and therefore is not charismatic in nature as perceived by some.
“Ours is a protestant church with conservative beliefs.”
He advised the Anglican Diocese not to preach own teachings but to preach the word of God in order to achieve the vision of the church.
“We cannot act blind as if nothing is wrong, I do not believe in same sex marriage. I will not mention names but we hear and know adultery and fornication cases in the church even with the pastors as a certain pastors has a two month old child outside marriage.
Now they are only focusing on Lukas Katenda. They must sort out their problems and give hope to the people. If they don’t give hope to the people they will come to our church.”