By OSEAH PHILEMON
PRINCIPAL of Martin Luther Seminary in Lae Reverend Giegere Wenge is the new Head Bishop of the 1.3 million – strong Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea.
Rev Wenge was elected at the 27th Synod of the church to take up the top post left vacant by late Dr Wesley Kigasung in May 2008.
The new head bishop immediately laid out his vision for the church, stressing strongly the importance of maintaining unity in ELC-PNG.
Bishop Wenge said it was his observation that the unity of the church was spoken of only in words but not in action.
He told the delegates he wanted the whole church membership to walk together in unity and peace.
He emphasised that the unity of the church was of paramount importance for its future, warning that ELC-PNG was not about Highlanders versus the coastal people or the Jabems versus the Kotes or the educated against the not so well educated or the haves against the have not.
Bishop Wenge said these were the things the Gospel of Jesus Christ fought against.
He said a united church would stand strong but a divided one would fall.
Bishop Wenge also told the synod he wanted the education institutions of the church, training its human resources to carry out the various roles required of them within the church.
He wanted pastors, evangelists and other workers of the church trained to go out and do the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Wenge also declared that the proposed Lutheran University would become a reality under his reign.
He stressed that the university was important in training the younger generation for the future challenges of development.
Bishop Wenge holds a degree in theology from the Martin Luther Seminary, a degree in christian education from Concordia University in US, a degree in science education from Concordia Seminary in US and also a Masters degree in theological studies.
He had served as a pastor in the Kabwum district, chaplain for the Balob Teachers College, pastor for Hobu Lutheran Congregation and lecturer at Martin Luther Seminary.
He was appointed principal of the seminary in 2007.
Bishop Wenge comes from the Boana district in the Morobe province.
The acting head bishop Reverend Zau Rapa was re-elected for a second term as assistant bishop while the church general- secretary Isaac Teo lost his post to Albert Tokave from Kainantu District.
Rev Rapa said the new constitution of the church now makes him responsible for the training of pastors and their affairs and training of church workers and evangelists.
He told the synod the new constitution now gave the position of assistant bishop clear duties and he would make sure that he worked with the new head bishop to ensure that ELC-PNG met its objectives and plans.