By WANPIS AKO
LITTLE known Mogl village in Sinesine-Yongomugl, Chimbu, was a hive of activity last month, with visits by high-profile leaders of the country.
For one week, the village hosted the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s 31st synod which ended on Jan 12.
The visiting leaders included Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Communications, Information Technology and Energy Minister Sam Basil.
Churches are the development partners of the Government.
The synod provided a forum for the church leaders and its board to assess the progress of the church in the evangelism mission, and convert new souls to join.
Head bishop Jack Urame said more than one million people in the country are Lutheran faithfuls, but only 4000 members attended the synod.
The meeting also provided a dialogue for them to discuss issues affecting the church and its congregation, and chart a way forward.
Urame said the position of the church on the Jerusalem saga was “neutral, but only praying for peace among those parties involved”.
“We are not going to take sides on the issue of the United States government proclaiming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said.
“We are part of the global Lutheran community. We will not support any one of the parties. However, we continue praying for them so that our God may give them peace.
“If we take a position on the issue, we will offend our fellow Christians there.”
Urame said Jerusalem was a historical place with spiritual significance.
Along with the majority of member countries at the United Nations, PNG voted against the US’ recognition, sparking concerns among citizens on the existing relationship it has had with Israel and US.
The church board also resolved to take a stance on several issues affecting the country.
Among those issues were genocide in West Papua, death penalty, violence against women and girls, drug and alcohol abuse, and same sex-marriage.
“Any negative forces that affect human life the church deplores and raises concerns against them,” Urame said.
“Our primary role is to evangelise to give peace to those who are affected. At the same time, we uphold human rights, dignity and values.”
Urame said the purpose of the synod was to strengthen the work of the church and its congregation’s faith.
“We wanted to find out a way forward in the New Year. It is to foster unity and togetherness in partnership. The new year means a new journey,” he said.
Sinesine-Yongomugl MP Kerenga Kua welcomed the leaders with his Chimbu culture and hospitality.
Kua was elated to see the synod hosted successfully without any hiccups.
He said the Government and the church should work continuously to look after the people.
“When Parliament or the Cabinet passes laws, the buck stops with the governor-general. It is important that the governor-general is here to see the stance, issues and the concerns of the church for the betterment of the country,”Kua told the synod when welcoming Sir Bob.
O’Neill, a member of the church, opened the synod.
In his speech, O’Neill called on the churches to take the lead in addressing sorcery accusations, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence against women and girls.
Speaking at the synod, Basil reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the church-government partnership to address the issues and deliver services to the people.
He assured the church that Lutheran MPs would continue to represent the position of the church on these issues when and if they are brought before the floor of Parliament for deliberation.
The next venue to host the biannual synod is Nawaeb’s Boana village in Morobe.
Nawaeb MP Kennedy Wenge was on hand to receive the Cross signifying his district’s turn to host the next synod.
The significant progress of the church was to have acquired K10 million worth MV Ialibu to Lutheran Shipping fleet. It was named after O’Neill’s place to mark his government’s contribution.
Sir Bob and his wife Lady Anna were treated to a red carpet reception.
The reception was complemented by a guard of honour.
Sir Bob called on the church to reform its traditional ways of worship to keep pace with the advancement in technology and to suit the expectations of youths and other demographic segments of the congregation.
Lady Anna expressed concern over a lack of interest by relatives of brides in church weddings.
She attributed it to bride price being a commodity.
By WANPIS AKO