Bishop Wesley Kigasung, LWF Council Adviser Dies
GENEVA, 20 May 2008 (LWI) – An active crusader for justice in his church, nation and global ecumenical context, is how the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) described the contribution of Bishop Dr Wesley Kigasung, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) who died on 14 May 2008, aged 57, following illness.
In a 19 May letter to ELC-PNG General Secretary Rev. Isaac Teo, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko expressed deep condolences to Kigasung’s family, the church and people of Papua New Guinea on behalf of LWF President Bishop Mark S. Hanson, the Council and staff. Kigasung has been an LWF Council adviser since 2003, serving on the Program Committee for Ecumenical Affairs.
The LWF general secretary particularly recalled his 2004 pastoral visits with Kigasung to Mount Hagen and other parts of the country to respond to some urgent challenges of conflict within the church, and extolled the PNG bishop for his pastoral commitment to reconciling difficulties within the church. “Bishop [Kigasung] was a fine pastor and theologian who firmly believed and worked for peace and reconciliation both in church and society,” stated Noko.
At the various church-related fora locally and internationally, Kigasung earned coworkers’ respect for the dignified way in which he related to others, noted Noko, citing the bishop’s contribution at the July 2003 LWF Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada, as one of the respondents to the Assembly key note address. (See www.lwf-assembly.org/News-016-EN.html)
Noko also noted Kigasung’s deep passion about ecological issues, including his leadership in an appeal to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on the harmful environmental effects caused by the Ramu nickel mine in Mandang Province.
“Always friendly, flashing a welcoming smile, he will be sadly missed by all who have been touched by him and his leadership,” said Noko of the LWF Council adviser.
Born on 16 July 1950 in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, Kigasung pursued his undergraduate theological studies at the Martin Luther Seminary in Lae, 1970-1975, and further studies in theology and history at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, 1976-1979. From 1979 to 1980, he served as a pastor in the remote Kaintiba district in the Gulf Province. He returned to the seminary in Lae where he lectured in church history until the end of 1982. He went for further studies in Germany in 1983, and proceeded to the USA where he graduated with a Master of Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1986, and a Doctor of Theology from the same institution in 1989. He resumed teaching at Lae late 1989, and was appointed the seminary’s principal in 1991, a position he held until his election as ELC-PNG bishop in 1998.
Bishop Dr Wesley Kigasung is survived by his wife Susie Manempen Kigasung, two daughters and two granddaughters.
According to information from the church office, a state funeral for Kigasung took place today in Port Moresby, to be followed by a church funeral service on 24 May in Lae and burial on 25 May at his home village in Aluki, Bukawa area of Morobe Province.
The ELC-PNG has 900,000 members, and has been an LWF member church since 1976. (550 words)