Harnessing local resources for a sustainable church in Africa

Participants at a breakout session during the LUCCWA training workshop in Accra, Ghana. Photo: LUCCWA
Participants at a breakout session during the LUCCWA training workshop in Accra, Ghana. Photo: LUCCWA

Credibility and accountability urged at West African workshop

(LWI) – The President of the Lutheran Communion in Central and Western Africa (LUCCWA) Archbishop Christian Ekong, has urged churches in the communion to set up structures that ensure credibility and accountability to help secure funding to sustain their ministries.

Ekong was speaking following a workshop on local resource mobilization held 2-7 August in Accra, Ghana, to address the issue of dwindling funding from northern partner churches due to the global financial crisis, and the need to secure indigenous sources of support. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for Mission and Development (DMD) organized the sub-regional workshop, hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana.

“The churches must not wait on anybody to come from elsewhere to do for them what they can do by themselves. Funds are everywhere. It is the ability to tap them that the churches need,” said Ekong, who heads the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN).

The LCN archbishop called on leaders of the Lutheran churches in Central and Western Africa to be agents of change and ensure accountability and credibility in their institutions.

The workshop drew 20 participants from LWF member churches in Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria, to discuss poverty and injustice, and how churches might address these issues through improved fundraising, communication and transparency.

Participants agreed that donors are not willing to support projects that will not endure and that churches, therefore, must ensure that they choose sustainable projects. Transparency is crucial and churches should openly discuss their work.

“Churches or organizations must not wait for resources to be depleted before they can think of mobilizing funds, but must identify projects and mobilize resources for them,” noted Mr Geoffrey Kalugendo, a capacity building consultant for the LWF, who co-facilitated the workshop.

Kalugendo, who has worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, noted that sustainability is a continuous process. He said there are plenty of resources in Africa that churches can harness in order to become sustainable but they need to adopt appropriate ways of communicating how they use such funds.

Participants agreed that all are accountable to God first then to one another, adding that for accountability to thrive, there must be systems in place that offer good governance and decision-making.

Ms Simangaliso Hove, LWF secretary for planning and finance at DMD, who conducted part of the training, expressed appreciation for the workshop. “Participants were ready to discuss and find solutions. They are ready to deal with issues that will bring the needed change,” she added.

Felix Samari, communications officer for the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria contributed this story.