Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana, Bishop Dr. Cosmos Moenga, is in a bitter fight with the Ramotswa congregation.
As a result of this in-fighting, the Ramotswa pastor-in-charge has defied an order by the Church Council that he vacate his position. It would have been easy for the Council to punish the pastor by not paying his salary but for six months now, the Ramotswa congregation has not been sending money to the head office.
Congregations across the country send money to the head office in Gaborone, which processes the payments. A Ramotswa congregant tells Sunday Standard that in the coming months, the congregation plans to assert greater independence from head office.
Moenga’s own bishopric is under serious threat and so far he has survived one coup attempt that he believes had the full backing of Ramotswa congregants.
At a synod in Maun last year, a Gabane delegate tabled a motion of no-confidence in him. From rumours Moenga says he heard prior to the synod, the motion was part of a plot to topple and replace him with his predecessor, Emeritus Bishop Phillip Robinson. Although he survived this attempt, Moenga still has to negotiate his way around a hostile environment that has so far claimed the scalp of a family member ÔÇô his own wife.
The bishop’s wife had to quit a position within the church following allegations that she got it due to nepotism.
“A position opened up, she applied, was interviewed by a panel that I was not part of but later some people said that panellists were my friends. She stepped down after working for only one month,” he says.
Moenga alleges that some church members are unhappy with his plans to help unify the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Botswana with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, from which the former broke away. He claims that this effort is being sabotaged by people who fear that they would lose their power and influence should such reconciliation occur.
One of the allegations levelled against the bishop is that he reinstated pastors who had been ex-communicated during Robinson’s tenure. One of those pastors had reportedly misappropriated church funds. He denies the misappropriation of funds part but admits that after taking over he implored the Church Council to be forgiving of the sins committed by the four pastors.
One of those, he adds, was married and had fallen foul of the thou-shalt-not-commit-adultery commandment. As a result of his intervention, all the four were contacted and spent some time undergoing a rehabilitation programme and repenting their sins. Afterwards two were rehired ÔÇô the other two already had jobs they chose not to quit.
The latest development in this saga is a failed meeting on October 16 at which the Church Council and the Ramotswa congregants could not even agree on the preliminaries of the pastor-in-charge issue. This is one of the issues that the Church Council will discuss when it meets next month.