JOHANNESBURG – Thousands of members of the Lutheran church have gathered at a stadium in Namibia to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The commemoration occurred Sunday during an assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, which represents tens of millions of people around the world.
The stadium where the commemoration happened is in Katutura, an area of the Namibian capital of Windhoek where blacks were forced to relocate during white minority rule. Namibia became independent in 1990.
A sermon about hope and liberation was delivered at the stadium by Lutheran Zephania Kameeta, Namibia's minister of poverty eradication and social welfare.
On Saturday a Nigerian, Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, was elected head of the Lutheran World Federation at an assembly held in Windhoek, Namibia's capital.
Filibus, 57, is the second church leader from Africa to lead the Lutheran federation since it was founded in 1947. He comes from the northeast region of Nigeria, which has endured attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group. The Lutheran federation says many churches in the area had to suspend activities two years ago to avoid militant assaults during worship services. Filibus replaces Bishop Munib Younan, who had served as president since 2010.
The Protestant Reformation was initiated in 1517 by Martin Luther in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the Catholic Church.