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Kenya: Archbishop Enthroned

Posted on: January 17, 1997 1:14 PM
Related Categories: Kenya

The Most Revd David Gitari was enthroned last Sunday (12 January) at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, and becomes Primate of the Anglican Church in Kenya and Bishop of Nairobi. The Revd Canon John L Peterson represented the ACC at the enthronement.

Archbishop Gitari said during the service that he would continue to ask awkward questions on behalf of the people of Kenya. He said that while the state was happy when the Church engaged in social-development programmes, it complained when it asked about the causes of poverty, ignorance and disease. He hoped that the friendly proximity of State House and Bishopsbourne could be used for the benefit of all the people of Kenya, and that there would be frank and open dialogue.

In his Charge to the Church in Kenya, the Archbishop took the theme "troubled but not destroyed". Using Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as examples, he emphasised that although the structures of the Church might almost disappear under such circumstances, the Church could never be destroyed, and would always exist to bear witness to serve the people.

The Revd Christopher Carey from CMS filed this report from Nairobi:

Message begins:

"Bishop David Gitari was enthroned on Sunday 12 January as the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Kenya and Bishop of Nairobi, in All Saints Cathedral Nairobi. He is the third Archbishop of the CPK, his predecessors being Festo Olang' and Manasses Kuria. The service was attended by the President of Kenya, Mr Daniel arap Moi and bishops, clergy and people from every Kenya diocese and form other parts of Africa and overseas. Much of the music was of modern African composition, beautifully sung by a variety of choirs. The service was in the context of the modern Kenya Holy Communion liturgy. The President spoke briefly urging all Christians to pray faithfully for the nation and to continue to proclaim the Gospel message.

Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of Canada, was the preacher and represented the Archbishop of Canterbury. In his Charge to the Church in Kenya, Archbishop Gitari used the theme of the All Africa Conference of Churches AACC for their 1998 Assembly "Troubled but not destroyed" showing how in many African nations today St Paul's words well describe the churches' varied situations. Citing the survival of the churches in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union he emphasised that although the structures of the church may almost disappear under such circumstance, the church can never be destroyed and will always exist to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ and to serve the people. The CPK is re-emphasising mission and evangelism and wants to reach out beyond its borders in mission. Next week a team of three Kenyans embarks on a three-month evangelistic mission to Ireland, the West Indies and North America. Within Kenya the Archbishop sees the need for spiritual renewal if the domestic problems of the nation are to be addressed effectively. Poverty, Ignorance and Disease were heralded at Independence in 1963 as the nations chief enemies, and in many ways this is still the case, with a vastly larger population today. So the Development Programmes of the 23 dioceses handling work such as adult education, rural development, primary health care, clean water supplies and small-scale agricultural development are vital to the nation's welfare and progress. The State is happy when the church engages in such social development said the Archbishop, but complains when the church asks what are the causes of Poverty, Ignorance and Disease. Archbishop Gitari stressed that the Gospel is for all people in every aspect of their lives and that he would continue to ask the awkward questions of behalf of all the people of Kenya. "Cain" has killed his brother so often in Kenya's past 33 years of Independence. Kenya's challenge is:

1. To respect the human rights of its citizens and stranger
2. To ensure free and fair political elections
3. To allow the freedom of many parties contesting elections in accordance with the national Constitution
4. To allow a free press and freedom of expression
5. Citizens' freedom to assemble and to move freely
6. To ensure the rule of Law, good governance and administrative transparency
7. Economic reform to ensure a better deal for all rather than for the powerful few
8. To stamp out bribery and corruption which distorts the economy in favour of the few
9. To utilise the ethnic variety of the people of Kenya as a resource rather than a tool to inflame discord.
10. To promote good health education particularly about the scourge of AIDS and to pray for medical progress to be made regarding the disease which affects so much of Africa.

We need to learn to listen to one another. President Moi has declared 1997 the year of Reconciliation in Kenya. May it be so both is society and in the churches and across the denominational barriers. Describing how the in the colonial era, State House and Bishopsbourne were intentionally built close to each other, the new Archbishop hoped that the friendly proximity could be used again for the benefit of all the people of Kenya as frank and open dialogue takes place between Church and State.

Archbishop Gitari's Installation was attended by other African Archbishops and Bishops; the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Canon John Peterson; the General Secretary of the WCC Dr Konrad Raiser; the General Secretary of the All African Conference of Churches Dr Jose Chipenda; the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Rev Mutava Musyimi; Bishop Eberhart Renz of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wuerttemberg, together with his Missions Secretary the Rev Albrecht Hauser. The Rev. Christopher Carey represented CMS London and the Mission Agencies of the Church of England.

After the five and a half hour service was over, in true African hospitality, the entire very large congregation were all invited to a meal, in the grounds of the Cathedral or in the garden of Bishopsbourne, to which the new Archbishop will shortly be moving.

Report by the Rev. Christopher Carey, CMS Regional Secretary for East and Central Africa.

Three other international conferences this week brought additional guests to the Enthronement: Firstly the WCC Consultation on the human environment "Sokoni" (the market place) with 500 delegates due. This is organised by Unit 3 of the WCC on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. It will be the last meeting of this size before the WCC 1998 Assembly.

Secondly a Conference hosted by Canon Patrick Sookhdeo's organisation, Christians relating to Islam, examining the particular situations churches face when a small minority in Muslim nations. The keynote speaker is Bishop Josiah Idowu Fearon of the missionary diocese of Sokoto in Northern Nigeria.

And thirdly, a pre-Lambeth Conference day gathering for all Anglican bishops held on Monday in Nairobi hosted by Canon John Peterson, General Secretary of the ACC London"