The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Making Amaambos

Namibia's new seminary prepares pastors for withering challenges

Kleopas Amaambo wants to go back to school. The young Namibian pastor says he needs more training to help him deal with the challenges of his ministry. He's right. The week before I found him outside Oshigambo Lutheran Church he'd done six funerals — five of them involving AIDS in a community that can't bring itself to name the deadly monster ravaging the neighborhood. Amaambo can't count the number of suicides during the last year in the 10,000-member, eight-point parish he leads with the help of lay elders. Nor can he keep pace with parishioners' alcohol problems, which are fueled by unemployment and the loss of purpose many feel now that they're free from South African oppression.

The modern challenges pastors face — even in Oshigambo, far from bright city lights — are a major factor that prompted Namibian church leaders to move their seminary to a new campus adjacent to the University of Namibia in Windhoek, the nation's capital. Students and faculty — excited and overjoyed by the move — will begin the new academic year there in January.

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