Evangelist Gottlieb Murangi and Pastor Andreas Kukuri were among the first Namibian leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) in the 20th century, who gradually took over the spiritual leadership from the Rhenish Missionary Society, and established an independent Lutheran denomination in central Namibia. This denomination was slower in its drive towards independent church formation than its sister church, the ELCRN, which developed from the work of the Finnish Missionary Society in the northern regions.
Evangelist Gottlieb Murangi was from the Herero-speaking community and studied at the Augustineum training centre of the Rhenish Mission, re-established in 1922 at Okahandja, after its closure during World War I. Murangi held the office of evangelist in the Mission Church from the early 1920s. His ministry was before the time of ordained pastors. The pastorate in the Rhenish Mission Church only became available to Namibians in 1948. That year, the first five Namibians were ordained as Lutheran pastors of the Mission Church. An independent synod of the ELCSWA (later ELCRN) was only established in 1957.
Pastor Andreas Kukuri was one the first five pastors ordained in 1948. He first studied the course for evangelists for eighteen months, then he had a period of practical ministry, before doing the pastoral course. The first group of ELCRN pastors included Andreas Kukuri, Gottlob Mungunda, Bernard Kahiiko, Joshua Tjiurutue and Reinhard Ruzo.
(More research is currently launched about the remarkable leadership of Murangi and Kukuri).
Gerhard Buys and Shekutaamba Nambala
- This story is taken from Buys & Nambala, p. 170, 175-177, 181.
Buys, G. L. & Nambala, S. V. V. 2003. History of the Church in Namibia 1805 - 1990, an Introduction. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan.
Namibia Research Institute (www.nets.iway.na/research)
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Interviews & questionnaires
Christians, N. C. 2002. Unpublished notes forwarded on request to Buys, on 22 May 2002. Rev. Nicholas Christians was the pastor of the Trinity AME Church in Keetmanshoop for an uninterrupted period of 43 years (1953 - 1997). In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Wilberforce Institute of the AMEC in USA.
Mubonenwa, L. 1997. Response of Pastor Mubonenwa on the Questionnaire forwarded by Buys, dated 25 September 1997. Pastor Mubonenwa is the present Field President of the North East Namibia Field of the SDA Church.
Tjijombo, P. 2002. Interview of Buys with Bishop Petrus Tjijombo on 18 January 2002 at his house. Bishop Tjijombo was the founder and still active leader of the St. John’s AFM in Namibia when this interview took place, after a ministry which started in 1953. The photo of his ministry starting in that year in the “old location” was unfortunately too bad to use in this publication.
Witbooi, H. 2002. Interview of Buys with the honourable Dr. Hendrik Witbooi, in Windhoek, on the history of Evangelists Petrus Jod and Marcus Witbooi. Dr. Witbooi is the son of Pastor Marcus Witbooi, who was a founder member of the AMEC in Namibia. At the time of the interview, Dr. Witbooi was Deputy Prime Minister in the Namibian government and leader of the AMEC (African Methodist Episcopal Church) in Namibia.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from History of the Church in Namibia, an Introduction - 1805-1990, Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, Namibia, copyright © November 2003 by Dr. Gerhard Buys and Dr. Shekutaamba Nambala. All rights reserved.