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Working toward church unity? : politics, leadership and institutional differences among the three Lutheran churches in Namibia, 1972-1993.

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This thesis examines the historical and theological development, and ultimate failure, of the unity process between the three Lutheran Churches in Namibia, and places it in the socio-political and economic context of the turbulent history of the country. The focus is particularly on the period between 1972 and 1993 which witnessed a crucial phase in the struggle for a United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. This took place against the background of heightened anti-apartheid political activity and international mediation for Namibian independence, which was achieved in 1990. The increasing involvement of the two Black Lutheran Churches in the liberation struggle was matched by the growing alienation and isolation of the White Lutheran Church. The three Lutheran Churches eventually failed in their deliberations between 1972 and 1993 either to unite or even to form a federation, and managed only to achieve a superficial working relationship. The failure ofthe process was shaped by various factors. These included issues of political and ethnic differences between the three Churches, concerns over the future common ownership of each Church's property, differentials in salaries, the external influence of Lutheran Churches elsewhere in the world (not least through their funding), and the question of what form the leadership structure should take in a unified Church. The leaders of the three Lutheran Churches lived and operated as theologians in somewhat different religious cultures that were the product of the several Lutheran missionary societies that had originally founded the three Lutheran Churches in Namibia. The abnormal socio-political and economic context of Namibia during colonialism (1884-1990), and the new challenges after independence, created a situation where religious and secular activities became inseparable. Inevitably, the priorities and questions confronting Lutheran Church leaders and people were concerned more with issues such as social justice, freedom, self-determination, political participation and sheer survival than with the question of church unity. The challenge for the Lutheran Churches of Namibia still remains for them to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ holistically and to spread the message of unity for all Namibians irrespective of differences of race, colour, gender and geographical region.


Thesis (M.A.)- University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2002


Lutheran Church--Namibia., Namibia--Church history., Theses--History.