Bishop of Namibia in Poland
Lutherans in Namibia constitute more than two million believers in a country with a population of 2.5 million. There are three Lutheran churches, the establishment of which is connected to the efforts of missionaries from Germany and Finland in the 19th century. All Lutheran churches in Namibia form the United Church Council of the Lutheran Churches and meet a few times a year.
The ELCRN, the second largest Lutheran church in the country, has 420,000 members, who mainly live in the south and are associated in 54 congregations. It was established thanks to activities of the Rhenish Missionary Society. The Church runs a number of charity and educational programmes in Namibia: an HIV/AIDS prevention programme, counselling in this scope, programme for solving the problems of poverty, it also gives women wider educational opportunities.
Bishop Ernst Gamxamub is 60 years old, he has presided over the Church since 2013. As his motto, he chose words from Mat. 25,35-36, because in his opinion the most important task of the Church is to be open to others and willing to help them. Bishop Gamxamub is in favour of unification of the Lutheran churches in Namibia.
During his stay in Poland, Bishop Gamxamub visited several Lutheran parishes in Poland.
At the beginning of his visit, the Bishop went to Masuria: He participated in the celebration of the 625th anniversary of consecration of a church building in Pasym and familiarised himself with the activities of the Lutheran congregation in Mikołajki. The Bishop from Namibia was particularly impressed by the Masurian lakes, which are lacking in his country, where people have to pray for mere rain.
An important element of his stay consisted in visiting places connected to the history of Jews in Poland, that is why bishop Gamxamub visited the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Kazimierz district in Krakow and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.
In summary of his stay in these places, the guest noticed that when Jews were settling in Poland, separate districts and towns for Jewish communities were supposed to emphasise the identity and protect the culture of that minority, overtime however they have been used by political forces in order to keep Jews apart and annihilate them.
Initially, Bishop Ernst was surprised by the fact that there are so many memorials to war situations in Poland. In the end however he concluded that this is what we as Poland can give to the world, so that the most difficult events of the past are never repeated.
In Cieszyn, the Bishop from Namibia met Bishop Adrian Korczago at the Jesus Church (Kościół Jezusowy) and learned about the life and history of Lutherans in Teschen Silesia.
As part of the visit, the Bishop met with the mayor of Cieszyn Ryszard Macura. During their conversation, he underlined the meaning of closeness and interpersonal relations, because in large agglomerations and human communities people often feel lonely. The Bishop from Namibia wished Cieszyn God’s blessing and its inhabitants all the best.
Bishop Gamxamub also visited the Centre of Mission and Evangelism (CME) and the Diakonat Eben-Ezer (House of Lutheran Deaconesses) in Dzięgielów. In conversation about the future of the Diakonat, he underlined, that in a situation where something is seemingly ending, the presence of Christ is particularly needed.
The last stage of his stay in Poland was a meeting with Piotr Gaś, pastor of the Holy Trinity Evangelical Church in Warsaw. At the Holy Trinity Evangelical Church, Bishop Gamxamub learned about the history and present day of the Warsaw parish.
At the end of the visit, the Bishop from Namibia underlined that, admittedly, the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland is in minority, but thanks to dedicated and committed people it has a strong voice which can and should be heard, especially from the perspective of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
During their travels through Poland, the bishops were accompanied, among others, by Anna Wrzesińska, Agnieszka Gotfrejow - Tarnogórska and Rev. Karol Długosz.
In 2017, the assembly of the World Lutheran Federation will take place in Namibia. A delegation of the Polish Church will participate as well.