The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi has proven that the sky is the limit when it ordained the church’s first female pastor, Reverend Bertha Munkhondya on the 26th of September 2021. The church has long recognized the importance of women in leadership as demonstrated in the election of Ms. Mabel Madinga as General Secretary of the ELCM. The historic event took place at the end of the ELCM’s National Women’s Conference with 129 women delegates attending the gathering.
About Rev. Munkhondya
Reverend Bertha Godfrey Munkhondya is the first born child of Mr. Godfrey and Mrs. Edna Munkhondya from Kayilizi village in Chitipa District in the far northern part of Malawi which shares the border with Tanzania. Pastor Bertha is one of six children and was born on 10th of May 1984 in Karonga District.
Pastor Bertha completed her Secondary School education at Mbapapi Private Secondary School in Kasungu and Chipasula Secondary School in Lilongwe. She went on to do secretarial studies at Livingstonia Technical College and also did para- legal studies at Mpemba Staff Development Institute in Blantyre.
Pastor Bertha worked in the church’s development arm, the Evangelical Lutheran Development Service (ELDS), in 2011 as a para-legal officer and development facilitator stationed in Madisi, Dowa. In 2012 Bertha worked in the head office of the church as Bishop’s Secretary for a period of 5 years until 2016. In the same year she was offered financial support for a 5-year scholarship by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to pursue theological studies at the University of Tumaini – Makumira in Arusha, Tanzania, a University College of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzani. Pastor Bertha graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Divinity Degree.
Rev. Munkhondya said, “I feel happy and fearful. I know God chose me. God knew about this before I was born. I believe everyone is a servant of God. It will be a challenge being the first female pastor, but God will see me through.”
In her message Rev. Munkhondya thanked Bishop Dr. Joseph Bvumbwe for continuously supporting her even though she doubted herself at times. She also thanked her family and the church for the love and support they gave her.
The event was graced by dignitaries including: ELCM Bishop Dr. Joseph Bvumbwe, LUCSA Executive Director Rev. Lilana Kasper, Mr Khulekani Magwaza – LWF Council Member, Rev. Verrah Rapoo – LUCSA Female Theologians Forum, Rev. Dr. Hoyce Lyimo Mbowe from Zambia, Rev. Alick Msuku ELCM Director of Programs, Rev. Evans Mphalasa, ELCM Acting General Secretary, Rev. Mkisi, Dean Mofolo – Lilongwe Cathedral, Rev. Feston Phiri – ELCM Director of Training, Rev. Bonongwe, Rev. Patrick Siliya and Dean Oswel Simwera from Salima Deanery.