On 13 October 2020, the Africa Regional Board (ARB) of the UEM met for the first time in an online session chaired by Bishop Mothusi J. Letlhage, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana (ELCB). The task of the ARB is to prepare the Africa Regional Assembly in cooperation with the head of the Africa Department and to take care of all business that occur between the meetings of the Regional Assemblies.
ARB members reported on the current situation in their countries and churches and how the Covid 19 pandemic has affected people's daily lives and church programs. In some countries the lockdown was ordered by the government, in others church activities were voluntarily restricted due to fear of the pandemic.
As a negative consequence of the pandemic, teachers and pastors could no longer be paid and general unemployment spread. The closure of schools and universities led to an increase in domestic violence and abuse of minors. Pupils and students lost touch with their studies.
The church representatives of the African region expressed their thanks for the financial support of the German members of the UEM. The financial resources forwarded by the UEM in Wuppertal were used by the African UEM churches to raise awareness of the dangers posed by Covid-19, to take measures against infection, to alleviate the acute plight of the most vulnerable people and to support church employees who had not received a salary for many months.
With the work report of the Africa Department, the ARB members were updated on the UEM work and the projects supported during the last seven months as part of the "United against Covid-19" campaign. In addition, the Africa Regional Board was informed about the decisions taken by the Council of UEM in September 2020. In addition, the churches of the Africa region were reminded to draw up proposals for the UEM Partnership Prize and to submit them to the UEM in Wuppertal.
With a view to the 25th anniversary of the internationalisation of UEM next year, the church representatives reported that they were currently preparing and carrying out their activities for the anniversary celebrations.
In conclusion, the members of the Africa Region Board expressed their satisfaction with the first online meeting, even though the use of digital conference tools was still perceived as a learning process. With a view to the next ARB meeting in 2021, a meeting at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana was originally planned. Although the personal meeting was still preferred, the African board members agreed to have the next meeting held online in February 2021, not least because of UEM's international travel restrictions until May 2021.
Katja Romanek (Africa Department)
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