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The North-Eastern Angola Union Mission office building

Photo courtesy of Teresa Macanzo.

North-Eastern Angola Union Mission

By Teresa Cabalo Macanzo

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Teresa Cabalo Macanzo

First Published: December 6, 2023

North-Eastern Angola Union Mission (NEAU) is an administrative unit and a subsidiary organization of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists.

Territory: The area of jurisdiction of the North Eastern Angola Union Mission covers the eastern and northern regions of Angola, comprising Bengo, Cabinda, Cuanza Norte, Luanda, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Malanje, Moxico, Uíge, and Zaire provinces. NEAU oversees four administrative units, namely:  East Mission, Northeast Mission, North Mission and South of Luanda, and Cabinda Mission. Its headquarters are located at Via S15, Lot CS 4, Talatona Urban District, in the Municipality of Talatona, in Luanda, Angola. It was part of the former Angola Union Mission and was organized in 2010.1

Statistics: Until December 31, 2022, NEAU statistics consisted of 732 churches; 899 companies; 313,910 baptized members in a population of 16,634,600, with a ratio of 2 Adventists for every 100 people.2

The North Eastern Angola Union also operates a book store (SELS--Serviço Educacional, Lar e Saúde) and a Medical Center, under the name of Associação Adventista Vida Saudável.

Overview

The Republic of Angola is made up of eighteen provinces, divided into 164 municipalities and 518 communes.3 Luanda is the nation’s capital city and center of economic activity. Angola used to be a colony of the Republic of Portugal. During the colonial period, it was known as Colonia Portuguesa de Angola. The country gained its independence on November 11, 1975. The country has a territorial extension of 1,246,700 square kilometers and an estimated population of 33,097,671 inhabitants, according to the 2022 census report of the national statistics institute (Instituto Nacional de Estatística). About twenty-seven percent of the country’s population lives in the capital city, Luanda, and 64.9 percent of the population is below the age of 25.4

The country is rich in mineral resources. It is estimated that its subsoil has 35 of the 45 most important minerals in world trade5 and its economy is based on three pillars, which are: (1) oil and gas, (2) diamonds and other minerals, (3) agriculture and fisheries. In spite of all these riches, the country’s poverty index is 54 percent.6 The general population survives through the informal economy and subsistence agriculture.

The official currency is the Kwanza. Portuguese is the official language, in addition to several national languages (dialects), the most spoken being: Kikongo, Kimbundo, Tchokwe, Umbundo, Mbunda, Kwanyama, Nhaneca, Fiote, and Nganguela.7 Angola’s climate is marked by alternating seasons, with a dry season occurring from May to September and a rainy season from October to April.8

Organizational History of the North Eastern Angola Union Mission

In 1922, William H. Anderson went on an exploratory trip to Angola. His work resulted in the establishment of 15 (fifteen) Mission Fields9. These fields resulted in the opening of the work at Bongo Mission Station and the organization of the Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists in 1925.10 The Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists headquarters was located in the city of Nova Lisboa (now known as Huambo), the present-day capital of Huambo Province, and it later became a part of the Euro-African Division. In 1999 the Angolan Union Mission was composed of the North Association, the Central Association, the South Association, the East Association, and the São Tome and Principe Association. As a result of the territorial reorganization carried out by the church in Africa in 2003, Angolan Union Mission was transferred from the Euro-Africa Division to the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.11

After 27 years of the Angolan civil war, in 2002 the country began to rebuild, making it possible for the church’s administration to efficiently provide oversight and leadership throughout the territory. The number of Seventh-day Adventist Church members increased, as well as the tithes and offerings. These reasons led the division to recommend to the General Conference for the reorganization of the Angola Union Mission into two new unions, namely: the North Eastern Angola Union Mission (NEAU), and the South Western Angola Mission Union (SWAU), as per the acceptance of the General Conference vote 107-15.12 It should be noted that at the time the realignment took place, Angola Union Mission had 395,122 members and more than one thousand churches.

On November 1, 2010, during its Year-End Executive Committee meetings, the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division approved the appointment of Pastors Passmore Hachalinga, Teixeira Mateus Vinte, and Burns Musa Sibanda as administrators of this new union to perform the functions of president, executive secretary, and chief finance officer respectively.13

The North Eastern Angola Union Mission took charge of the North Association, consisting of seven provinces, namely: Luanda, Cabinda, Zaire, Bengo, Uíge, Malange, and Cuanza Norte; and East Association, comprising three provinces, namely: Moxico, Lunda Norte, and Lunda Sul. The North-Eastern Angola Union had 170,330 baptized members at its inception. In its embryonic phase, the administration of this union focused on the implementation of policy-guided systems established by the church’s Working Policy, which included a membership audit and transparent financial management systems. An example of this is the membership audit outcome. While the books recorded high numbers, on-the-ground verification revealed another reality. It is for this reason that despite the many baptisms that took place in the NEAU,14 the statistical report at the end of the first five years showed a small membership gain of only 3,449 from 170,330 members at the inception of the union to 173,779.15

The realignment of the Angola Union Mission resulted in the new NEAU, starting off from a disadvantaged footing in terms of assets and liquidity. The new union had to set up many otherwise taken for granted systems such as the retirement fund and staff housing. In many aspects it was literally beginning from scratch. The division gave a loan to enable the union organization operations and the completion of the union headquarters office building.16

Luanda for Christ Campaign

In 2013 the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) sponsored the largest evangelistic project in the short history of NEAU, as part of the “Mission to Big Cities” General Conference initiative. Luanda, the capital city of Angola, was the city of choice because of its large population, size, and cultural diversity. Several evangelistic campaigns were carried out in the city's stadia, in churches and homes with the assistance of various speakers from different unions in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division territory, and from Brazil in the South American Division. As a result, more than twenty-three thousand souls were baptized that year.17

In the second five-year period (2016-2020), the union leadership focused on monitoring compliance to the administrative regulations. Although there was a lot of initial resistance to the changes, the results were positive in the end. Thereafter, attention was directed to the completion and creation of new projects. Highlights included completing the construction of the union office building in 2016 and the establishment of a dental practice, as well as psychological consultation services, which are powerful means of preaching the gospel. The dental practice and the psychological consultation services are housed in the same building.

The gains mentioned here do not refer only to compliance with church policies and the establishment of infrastructures; they also had to do with administrative decentralization, which provided for leadership much closer to the members in order to better serve the constituency by improving the methods of spreading the gospel and discipleship. The North Association was realigned into three missions, justified by the large extent of its territory, as well as the growth in the number of baptized members, which rose from 103,006 members to 161,443 baptized members in five years, an increase of 56 percent.18

Through its voted action CE/16/050 of the NEAU, submitted to the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, the realignment of the North Association was approved. The new missions were to be constituted as follows: Angola Northeast Mission, comprising the provinces of Malanje, Uíge, and Cuanza Norte; Angola North Mission, comprising the northern region of the province of Luanda, Bengo, and Zaire provinces, and finally the Angola South Luanda and Cabinda Mission, comprising the province of Cabinda and the southern region of the province of Luanda.19 The NEAU would oversee these missions work more efficiently, though aware of the challenges in finding strategies to reach unreached villages with the gospel within their territory.20

NEAU values the use of new technologies for the preaching of the gospel. Therefore, it has made efforts to establish a radio station. On September 8, 2021, it received a broadcasting license to operate a radio station, whose implementation was blessed with the support of Adventist World Radio (AWR), giving rise to Rádio Adventus, which in its first phase will broadcast in Luanda and its surrounding areas.21

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges faced by the new union mission came in the form of a court case. In October 2015, an unusual incident occurred that has become a part of the history of the NEAU. The president of the North Association in Luanda was alleged to have been abducted by bandits who wanted the church to pay a huge monetary ransom for his safe release. The NEAU leaders, in consultation with the division leaders, declined to pay the ransom. The president was later released unharmed and claimed that his family had paid the ransom. He later alleged that the NEAU officers, together with the North Association treasurer and other three church members, had conspired and carried out his abduction. Working together with corrupt elements in the police and the justice system, he managed to get the accused persons tried in the court of law and condemned in December of 2017 even though no evidence had been proved in court. That unjust sentencing was later reversed following an appeal to the superior court, but that was after Pastors Passmore Hachalinga and Burns M. Sibanda had spent 62 days in prison.22

Future Outlook

Since its creation in 2010, NEAU has experienced tremendous growth. Its membership increased by 54 percent during the period of 2010 to December 31, 2022. The number of churches and groups increased by 61 percent during the same period.

The motto that motivates the leaders and members of the NEAU is: “Unity and Focus on the Mission.” The union intends to establish churches in all the municipalities and communes of the provinces that constitute it. The “Radio Adventus” inaugurated on February 28, 2023, aims to promote the wholistic development of men and women, the well-being of society, and the spreading of the gospel. The future prospect is to extend the radio signal to the other nine provinces of this territory.23

NEAU values healthful living. Considering the importance of this teaching, at the end of 2021, work began on the upgrading and expansion of the Adventist Dental Clinic toward the establishment of the Vida Saudável Medical Center.24

The dream of this union is to have educational institutions of repute, for the transmission of Christian principles and values, participating in the education of different age groups, from kindergarten to higher education. Work is underway to refurbish and expand the Camama Adventist College, located in the Camama neighborhood and Nova Vida urban, in Luanda. There are also plans for establishing an institution of higher learning in Luanda.

Executive Officers Chronology

Presidents: Passmore Hachalinga (2010-2016); Justino Júnior Paulo (2016-2021); Teixeira Mateus Vinte (2021-Present).

Executive Secretaries: Teixeira Mateus Vinte (2010-2021); Osvaldo Domingos Vunge (2021-Present).

Treasurer: Burns Musa Sibanda (2010-Present).

Sources

Justino, Alexandre. Pregoeiros da Verdade Presente: História da Presença da Igreja Adventista do Sétimo Dia em Angola (1924-2004). Algarão, Portugal: Relgráfica, 2007.

Minutes of the General Conference Executive Committee meetings of October 2010. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

Minutes of North-Eastern Angola Union Mission Executive meetings, 2015. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, Luanda, Angola.

Minutes of the Southern African-Indian Ocean Division Executive Committee meetings of May 10, 2010 and November 2010. Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, Pretoria, South Africa.

Report of the 2nd Constituency Assembly, 2015. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, Luanda, Angola.

Realignment Preparation Document, 2017. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, Luanda, Angola.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, https://adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Minutes of the General Conference Executive Committee meetings of October 2010.

  2. The 2023 Annual Statistical Report – New Series, Volume 5, p. 29, https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2023.pdf?_gl=1*1f6pa7z*_ga*MTQyNjUyNzg5OC4xNzAwNzUxMzU2*_ga_2VBYH6KEBQ*MTcwMDgxNzk4Ny4zLjAuMTcwMDgxNzk4Ny4wLjAuMA.

  3. https://governo.gov.ao/angola/provincias.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. https://ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Angola_PM_2020.pdf.

  7. https://governo.gov.ao/angola/provincias.

  8. https://governo.gov.ao/angola/clima.

  9. Alexandre Justino, Pregoeiros da Verdade Presente, 157.

  10. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1933).

  11. Ibid., (2003).

  12. Minutes of the General Conference Executive Committee meetings of October 2010.

  13. Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (Pretoria, South Africa). Minutes of the Southern African-Indian Ocean Division Executive Committee meetings of November 2010.

  14. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola), Minutes of NEAU Executive meetings, 2015.

  15. North-Eastern Angola Union of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola). Report of the 2nd Constituency Session, 2015.

  16. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola), Report of the 2nd Constituency Assembly, December 7, 2015.

  17. North-Eastern Angola Union of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola). Report of the 2nd constituency session held on December 7, 2015.

  18. Augusto Artur, interview by the author, Luanda, Angola, April 12, 2023.

  19. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola). Realignment Preparation Document, 2017.

  20. North-Eastern Angola Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (Luanda, Angola). Realignment Preparation Document, 2017.

  21. Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist (Pretoria, South Africa). Minutes of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Executive meeting of May 10, 2021.

  22. Burns M. Sibanda, interview by the author, Luanda, Angola. June 16, 2023.

  23. Osvaldo Domingos Vunge, interview by the author, Luanda, April 20, 2023.

  24. Burns Musa Sibanda, interview by the author, Luanda, April 26, 2023.

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Macanzo, Teresa Cabalo. "North-Eastern Angola Union Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 06, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ICYA.

Macanzo, Teresa Cabalo. "North-Eastern Angola Union Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 06, 2023. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ICYA.

Macanzo, Teresa Cabalo (2023, December 06). North-Eastern Angola Union Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ICYA.