Churches Are Advocating for an Economy of Life

“If it is God’s world, we cannot close our eyes to the injustice that is taking place in it.” Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta of ELCRN speaks out on economic justice. Photo: LWF/C. Kästner
“If it is God’s world, we cannot close our eyes to the injustice that is taking place in it.” Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta of ELCRN speaks out on economic justice. Photo: LWF/C. Kästner

Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta Speaks Out on Being the “Yeast to Make the Bread Rise”

GENEVA, 22 January 2014 (LWI) – The Ecumenical Panel on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture has concluded its second meeting in Geneva on 15-17 January, developing advocacy strategies for churches to ensure economic justice and the ecological wellbeing of the communities they serve. The Ecumenical Panel on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture was established last year by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Council for World Mission (CWM) as a follow-up to the São Paulo conference on a New Financial and Economic Architecture in 2012. On that conference, the participants issued a statement proposing an just economical architecture which among others sets limits to greed and accounts for social and environmental tasks.

In an interview with Lutheran World Information (LWI), LWF Council member Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), who is representing LWF in the panel, shared his views on a just economy in the context of the situation in his home country.

LWI: Why is it important for you as a representative from the ELCRN to be part of this panel?

I am in the first place representing the LWF as a Council member. But at the same time, I am coming from the South. I regard it as very important because you cannot divide the economic crisis from the ecological crisis. These are intertwined. In Namibia, we are experiencing a drought. It has not rained for several years. Vegetation has disappeared, the area is becoming a desert. Many people depend on cattle for survival, but the cattle are dying. They wear traditional clothes, but they cannot wear those clothes anymore because it is becoming cold. When I’ve seen some of them recently, they are now wearing blankets over their beautiful traditional costumes. Their children are treated in the hospital for colds and bronchitis. These are effects of climate change, it is destroying the people as well as their culture. But the people who are living here do not have any cars, the pollution that causes climate change comes from somewhere else. That in turn is a consequence of bad economic management.

LWI: In the Sao Paolo statement you talk about an “economy of life”. How would you envision that in your country?

Namibia is very rich - we have mineral resources, diamonds and uranium. But to talk about a rich Namibia in the midst of abject poverty is a scandal. What I want to see is the responsible management of our wealth. We want the sharing of the resources. The value adding to what is taken out of the ground of Namibia should be done in Namibia. We might not have enough skilled human resources to deal with these things, but let those who have it do it in Namibia, train our people and create jobs here and not in their countries! We encourage debate and action on these crucial issues wherever we are and in a very small way may become the yeast which makes the bread rise.

LWI: The Sao Paolo statement calls for “active radicalizing of our theological discourse”. What does that mean to you?

My faith in Jesus Christ has radicalized my view of the world. I only got involved because of the things I believe in. In the book of Revelations Christ tells us: I make all things new. That concerns tradition, culture, politics, economy, money etc. So our faith has radicalized us to see the world differently.

LWI: Why should the church be concerned with political and economic issues?

Before and after the independence of Namibia (1990) we were told: The church should keep out of politics. But if it is God’s world, we cannot close our eyes to the injustice that is taking place in it. The Bible does not divide these things. Moses was sent to the Pharaoh to say: Let my people go. That is a political move!

São Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life