A delegation of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) is leaving today (5 March) for a visit to South Africa and Namibia lasting until 15 March. Ten years after the last visit of an EKD Council to Southern Africa, this trip will enable the new Council to gain an impression of the church, social and political situation in the two countries. They will visit Johannesburg/Pretoria, Cape Town and Windhoek. The programme will focus on encounters and talks with the EKD’s partner churches there. In addition, the delegation members will meet with ecumenical partners such as the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) and visit diaconal and social service projects.
“From our visit we expect to gain important insights for the church’s witness and, following from this, for our work towards a more just world,” said Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the EKD Council and leader of the EKD delegation. “The trip will give us an opportunity to discuss the rapid developments going on in Southern Africa with our partner churches and ecumenical friends. It will enable us to strengthen our relations and to cooperate in tackling global challenges. Participating in worship services together will be another source of energy and inspiration.”
Questions discussed in South Africa will relate to the role of the churches in the social and political context, particularly after the election of the new president Cyril Ramaphosa. There will also be an intensive exchange on shared issues, such as how to handle migration and racism. Mitigating climate change and implementing the sustainable development goals are also on the agenda. “In view of the serious water crisis in Cape Town we are concerned to talk to farmers and farm workers at the local level and to visit projects in hotspots like Philippi and Khayelitsha,” added Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber, who heads the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Ministries Abroad at the EKD Church Office.
In Namibia the main issues for discussion will be dealing with the genocide that took place over a century ago in what was then German Southwest Africa, and reflecting on the consequences of colonial rule and racism, which can be felt to this day. In February 2017 the EKD issued a statement on the genocide, confessing its guilt, which aroused a lot of attention in both Germany and Namibia. The aim is now to support its practical implementation with specific programmes in Namibia.
Following the EKD visit, a German-South African partner conference will take place at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town from 14 to 17 March. The topic of the conference is “Together for Justice” and it is under the joint patronage of Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, EKD Council Chair, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba from the Anglican diocese of Cape Town.
Members of the EKD delegation: Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Petra Bosse-Huber, Michael Diener, Markus Dröge, Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt, Kerstin Griese, Jacob Joussen, Dieter Kaufmann, Annette Kurschus, Irmgard Schwaetzer
Hanover, 5 March 2018
EKD Press Office