St Simon & St Jude Namacunde has the largest Anglican congregation in this part of southern Angola. Currently it does not have its own priest, sharing with many surrounding areas Fr Elias Mbala who lives in Ondjiva.
Fr Elias comes from Uige in northern Angola. He speaks Portuguese, English (having lived for nearly a year in Birmingham) and speaks some Kwanyama.
Fr Elias is responsible for 16 ‘congregations’, some of which are over 200 km apart. He tries to visit Namacunde, which is a 30 minute drive from his home in Ondjiva, once every two weeks. Congregations further a field might only see him once every six months. This means that great reliance is placed on catechists within local church communities.
In Namacunde the congregation is led by Tobias Paulo who is supported by Portasio Hileni. Sometimes Fr Elias is supported by Fr Simon Haimbodi, an Anglican priest from Namibia who crosses the border to participate in the services at Namacunde. Fr Simon Haimbodi speaks fluent Kwanyama and so might, for example, give the sermon, with Fr Elias concentrating on other parts of the service.
Until recently, the congregation at Namacunde met under a tree.
During 2010 a simple church was built in Namacunde from corrugated metal sheets which had blown off the roof of Ondjiva’s Anglican church school. The church is located some distance from the road, quite close to a compound of stick houses. Although the upper half of one side of the church is open, when the sun beats down on it, it’s pretty hot inside! Empty in the week, at the weekend a table is brought in to form an altar and rows of plastic chairs appear for the congregation to sit on.