THE Church needs to continue to minister to the spiritual, physical and social needs of the people they serve, says Bishop Alfred Kalembo.
And Bishop Kalembo says the government must allow the Church to regain its lost place of organising national events by the Church mother bodies working with the office of the Secretary to the Cabinet.
Bishop Kalembo who is the current presiding Bishop for Pilgrim Wesleyan Church said he had followed the disbanded ministry of national guidance and religious affairs discussion.
“First of all, the freedom of expression I sense in this discussion confirms the UPND government’s commitment and promotion of one of the fundamental human rights which is that of freedom of expression in our country. Therefore, this discussion is proving that people are free to express their views,” he said. “In the same spirit I would like to add my voice to this discussion first as a former president of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) when the said ministry was proposed and introduced and as a presiding Bishop of the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, which has been working with government since 1930 through our church schools, rural health centres, hospital, orphanage and community development. And I also believe that the current government supports the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.”
He said the Church had always worked with the government during colonial days and after independence.
Bishop Kalembo said political leaders worked with and respected the prophetic voice of the Church.
“There was no ministry created then specifically for national guidance and religious affairs. Our founding father, the late Dr Kenneth David Kaunda tried to introduce Scientific Socialism, but the three Church mother bodies provided counsel against it and the government listened to the voice of the Church. At the beginning of the MMD government the religious desk was created but that didn’t do much and was done away with,” he said. “In 2016, the PF government sought the support of the three Church mother bodies in the creation of the ministry of national guidance and religious. I served as president of the Council of Churches in Zambia, Bishop Paul Mususu was chair of The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Archbishop Telephore Mpundu was president of Zambia Conference of the Catholic Bishops (ZCCB). The three church mother bodies clearly, very uncompromisingly advised the government not to create the said ministry.”
He said the three Church mother bodies felt there was no need for it because the Church was already working with the government in various line ministries such as education, health, community development.
“I know some of you know the primary schools, teacher training colleges, nursing schools built by churches and Church mother bodies in partnership with the government but for those who do not know let me mention just a few namely: Njase Girls Secondary, Choma Secondary School, Canicius Secondary, Chasa Secondary, Mukinge Girls Secondary, David Livingstone College of Education, Malcom Moffat College of Education, Mongu Teachers College, Mwami College of Nursing, Chikankata Secondary and College of Nursing, just to mention a few. Churches Health Association of Zambia which works very well with the government is self- explanatory.”
Bishop Kalembo said unfortunately, the PF government did not listen to the Church and went ahead and created the ministry.
He said instead of working with the Church bodies, the government started engaging churches who were members of the church mother bodies and those who did not belong to any mother bodies.
“I remember in an effort to ensure that a ministry is established, a meeting was called at Cabinet Office in the Vice-President’s office where we were all called as leaders. The government had invited individual church leaders as well as the three Church mothers. The three Church mother bodies still maintained their position of not supporting the creation of the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs,” he narrated. “However, in that meeting it was indicated that the rest of the church had agreed but that was not so. However, we know that the government continued and went ahead to establish this ministry.”
Bishop Kalembo said it was clear after that meeting that the government had managed to divide the church because some church leaders strongly supported the creation of the ministry while the three Church mother bodies and some churches did not support the move.
He said some of the things that resulted were that the functions that were always organised by the Church were removed from it.
“For example, independence celebrations before, the Cabinet and the three Church mother bodies worked on the programme of celebrating independence. National days of prayer for the nation they were organised by the three Church mother bodies. However, the three Church mother bodies stood together and there it is on record that they did not support the creation of the ministry but obliged once it became law,” he said. “As a nation, we saw a paradox. There was increase in the construction of Casinos in the history of Zambia. Alcohol consumption increased, especially among our young people. In compounds like Kanyama where I minister, we saw the emerging of drinking and rough young people called ‘junkies’.”
Bishop Kalembo said arising from the historical perspectives, the Church must be involved in meeting the social needs of the people they serve and not only look on the spiritual side of the people.
“This is also known as the integral mission. We need to meet the social, emotional, economic needs of the people. This is the way the Church will be a true light and salt of the world as said by Jesus in Matthew 5:13-14. Be involved in those areas that meet the needs of people practically. In the gospel Jesus mentions many ways His followers…The teaching ministry – be involved in setting up schools, use your connections to build schools in Zambia and use your connections to be involved in meeting the health needs of our people,” he said. “When the Church is involved in meeting the educational and health needs of the Zambian citizens, they will be able to relate to the government ministries that are involved in education and health. In Matthew 25:34-46, Jesus outlines a number of his expectations of the Church. He commended those who were involved in the social needs of the people and condemned those who were not. His invitation was, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’.”
Bishop Kalembo said the Church must be involved in supplementing the government in food production.
He said the Church must supplement the government’s effort in the provision of safe water by drilling boreholes.
Bishop Kalembo said the Church should be involved manufacturing and trade to have the means to provide clothing for the need in society.
“Visiting those who are in prison (Ministry of Justice). He said to his followers. The Scriptures contains all the ministries that are outlined by the government. The Church, in our provincial capitals must come together and invite stakeholders including the government for such meetings like prayer breakfasts. The Church must be the convener and one in charge to pray for the various needs of the nation,” said Bishop Kalembo. “The government must allow the Church to regain its lost place of organising national events by Church mother bodies working the office of the Secretary to the Cabinet.”