Monday, March 12, 2007
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia
Rev. Paulus HEITA, Acting Senior Pastor
|Affiliations:||Lutheran World Federation |
Christian Council of Zambia
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia (ELCZa.) started in 1983 but was officially registered under this name on 25 April 1986 only. Its leaders were lay members of the Lutheran Church founded by the Wisconsin Synod. They wanted to participate in the mission activities, and decided to start a Lutheran Church with a much more open attitude to the local participation.
A few members of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa joined them, as well as several Tanzanians, formerly members of the ELCT, who had emigrated to Zambia. Then faithful listeners of Radio Voice of the Gospel, which formerly broadcast from Addis Ababa, also decided to adhere to this long awaited Lutheran faith. Some of them were already participating in the life of different sects which did not give them satisfaction whereas others had been non-Christians.
The Church has now 3,215 members spread in 11 congregations and 3 parishes, under the supervision of a local senior pastor, 11 parish pastors, and 13 evangelists, a female women’s desk officer, one lay helper, who is also vice-chairperson of the Synod and 18 lay preachers. A new missionary pastor from ELCT is working with the ELCZa. for a period of three years.
The ELCZa.’s Joint Mission Board is held annually. Members of the Joint Mission Board (JMB) are from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi. The JMB has done a lot in the accompaniment of this young Lutheran Church. Special mention should be made of support with Missionary pastors, guidance and advice on working towards unity with the other Lutheran Church in Zambia , (the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Zambia), which was started by refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This church is related to the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF). The JMB has also advised and guided the church on stewardship and leadership.
The Leadership crises which the church went through some year back has now been overcomed. Measures have been taken to organize the church for more efficiency. The problem in the ELCZa. is lack of experienced and skilled people, training is a priority, so as to have competent people who can more effectively encourage growth and development in the church. Slow growth is a concern for the leadership at ELCZa.
Effect / Impact of the political and socio-economic situation in the country
The Republic of Zambia is situated on a high plateau, covers 752.614 sq. Km and has 10 million inhabitants with more than 80 languages, English being the official language. The GNP per capita was USD 330 in 1998.
The mining of copper has long dominated the Zambian economy although its contribution has dropped markedly in recent years, reflecting prices in the international commodity market. Other minerals are lead, zinc, manganese, silver, gold and coal. Zambia is rich in hydropower, developed and potential, and is currently exporting electricity to Zimbabwe. The drop in the price of copper has affected the economy in a negative way.
The principal crops are maize, cassava, millet, sorghum, beans and tobacco. Also important are wheat, rice, soya-beans, cotton, sunflower, seeds, groundnuts, sugar cane, fruit, vegetables and coffee.
Zambia is undergoing an historical turn in its political life, facing a new experience of growing challenge to governance by the civil society. Zambia is only retrieving a tradition it has broken with since the sixties. Even if the present causes and effects are not exactly identical to those of the past, the socio-political situation of the country cannot be considered as a typical representation of the one party situation of few years ago. The analysis of this situation can help to identify both the remote and immediate causes. From the historical point of view the multiparty phenomena existed before and some time after the independence of Zambia.
This concern has grown out of the crises that the world and Zambia in particular, are undergoing. Therefore, the present social political situation cannot be supported and promoted without examining the modalities by which pluralistic democracy is being implemented.
The legal situation has improved since 1991. Especially the democratization has brought freedom of opinion, of worship (Declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation), of expression and movement.
These laws have brought into existence a number of political parties and non-governmental organizations especially in the field of Human Rights, who voice out publicly their opinion.
Multi-partism has been received positively from a social point of view, both the Zambian society and more particularly the church, but it has some real difficulties in managing this new system efficiently.
The establishment of full-scale multi-partism and of a clear system of public liberty has had a number of social, political and economic consequences, which should be looked at according to their effects. A lot of problems such as strikes, lack of public services such as health, unemployment, poverty, lack of accountability and transparency in the government, still persist.
Despite the bleak political situation, the response of the church in this democratic process in Zambia is that the church participates actively in the history of the country, in the formation and structuring of its society. This witness is a joint action of Christians in Zambia.
There are no restrictions in establishing new congregations in Zambia. This freedom has made it possible for the young Lutheran Church to carry out its Mission-outreach work in the city of Lusaka and in rural areas in different parts of the country, as far as the Zambezi Province. Therefore the ELCZa. Has a favorable context for its mission outreach.
Main priorities and activities
The main priorities of this church are to strengthen the evangelism program, to develop the various activities of the congregations - youth, men and women work, and to build a healthy stewardship. For this to succeed, leadership is essential.
It is also requested to continue to assist the administration costs and salaries of the local workers of the young Lutheran church in Zambia.
Bilateral partners in mission and development
The partners of the Church are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZimb.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi (ELCMalawi), the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Africa (LECA) and the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF).
(The Church is not yet a member of the LWF).
The ELCZa is now a full member of the Christian Council of Zambia and of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA).