Women and Youth delegates from the three African sub-regions, the Lutheran Communion Central and West Africa (LUCCEA), the Lutheran Communion in Central East Africa (LUCCWA) and the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa on 8 February to inform delegates of the Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) Africa Pre-Assembly about the challenges women and youth face today in the church and in society at large.
Women crossing the threshold
The women delegates entered the conference room singing praises and holding colorful windmills on the one hand as they proceeded and made their way onto the stage as a demonstration for Women on the Move. Christine Nillan from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), explained “As women we decided to use the windmill symbol as a sign. We are proud of the wind blowing, it is a sign of success, a sign of rain, food security and environmental livelihood that will clear out the drought.” The women have the hope that coming to the Africa Pre-Assembly and speaking with one voice will focus attention on how they wish to be treated in the church.
Colleen Cunningham from the Moravian Church in South Africa (MCSA) reminded the house of “the image of Katharina von Bora at Wittenberg, crossing the threshold: offering unique opportunities of inclusion to women, guiding them toward full autonomy and citizenship in church and society.” The women requested the Regional Communion and the member churches to abide by the Quota system of the LWF, ensuring that there is a 40% presentation of women in decision making bodies. Information about scholarships should be made available to empower female theologians and member churches should recognize that women in ministry are a gift.
Youth Message: Stand firm in faith and be part of the change
The youth delegates delivered their message through storytelling and role playing expressing the social challenges the African youth face, decision making and participation in the church. A live Facebook streaming was recorded – this was history in the making.
Rev. Iyaloo Nuyuuni a female youth pastor from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) shared about the social challenges of Africa’s young generation such as massive unemployment, teenage pregnancies, substance abuse and increasing poverty.
Hillary Ndlovu from the Evangelical Church in Zimbabwe highlighted that young people want to remain a relevant arm in the church, be part of the decision making bodies. Relating to the social challenges he called upon all members of the church to prepare young people for life’s challenges and provide theological training. Young people offer to bring their “vavavuum” to the worship services to make them more youth friendly.
In the second part of their presentation, delegates to the 22th UN climate change conference (COP) in Marrakesh shared the climate recommendations with the African church delegates. These include investing in renewable energy and divesting from fossil fuels, integrating climate change curricula in religious education and establishing climate justice projects in their churches.
By Gugu Mkhabela, LWF ALCINET, edited by Office for Communication Services