[ACNS, by Bellah Zulu] Thousands of Anglicans from Kenya and beyond yesterday (Sunday) attended the enthronement of their new archbishop, the Most Revd Dr Jackson Ole Sapit at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. Archbishop Ole Sapit becomes the 6th archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and the 4th Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese.
The service was a cocktail of colours and vibrancy characteristic of the church in Africa and saw choirs drawn from across the province take turns in joyful singing and dance. In attendance was the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta; his Vice President, William Ruto; the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon; other primates from Africa and beyond, ambassadors, Mothers' Union representatives, various clergy and laity, and many other notable guests and dignitaries.
“The Anglican Church in Kenya has always been at the forefront in the fight against corruption in Kenya and has never compromised in rebuking corrupt leaders in the country,” said the preacher of the day, Archbishop and Primate of Tanzania the Most Revd Jacob Chimeledya. “As a leader you cannot remain quiet because being in the top leadership of the church means you have to rebuke and correct whenever necessary.”
Archbishop Chimeledya reminded Archbishop Ole Sapit that he has to be prepared to preach the word at all times. “You cannot choose, whether it’s a good season or bad one you still have to preach. Remember that the kingdom of God is near but it has not fully come because of all the evil that is still happening in the world today,” he said. “Therefore the Church under your leadership has an important role to play. You have to safeguard the Christian faith by safeguarding the orthodox Christian teachings.”
After his recognition and enthronement, accomplished after taking the necessary vows and undertakings, Archbishop Ole Sapit gave his charge which covered a wide range of issues including the importance of peace in the country, his vision for the Anglican Church of Kenya and the need for the church to “remain true to her calling.”
“A lot of questions are being asked about the role of the church in the world today. If Christians form 80 percent of our population, why the corruption, the environmental degradation?” he asked. “These vices compromise our future as a church. We need to reach out to the poor and outcasts and help them meet their various needs because this is the essence of mission and the core business of the church.”
He added: “In order for the church to remain true to her calling she must remain accountable to all her endeavours. But prior to creating a robust strategy for mission, the church must redefine its role and also look at our capacity for mission.” The Archbishop reiterated the huge manpower that ACK is endowed with. “Taking stock of this manpower is key for us to utilise it,” he said.
Abp Ole Sapit also expressed his concerns for the violence which usually ensues during electioneering periods. The audience gave a loud applause when he urged the Kenyan President, his deputy and other key officials to take a retreat and envision the kind of Kenya that they want to handover to future generations. “Only then will our beloved country be healed and cry no more.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also spoke during the occasion when he brought greetings and blessings from the Church of England. He said: “Your Grace, you will find a church that has been loved, served and taught by your distinguished predecessor and indeed those before him. It is a church springing in its strength, full of the life of Christ, full of the truth of the scriptures and the love of God.”
He added: “In the world we live in there is tribulation, and as Archbishop you will find tribulation from the world around you, and one which this country is very familiar with – suffering, terrorism, cruelty and brutality. But you’re the voice of peace and hope against such troubles, and we are of much cheer because Christ has overcome the world.”
The President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto also greeted congregants during the service. President Kenyatta talked of a long relationship that has existed between the Anglican Church and the government dating back to independence days. He later shared: “Kenya is a Godly nation but we also have to be a prosperous nation where every single citizen feels that they are part and parcel of the Kenyan society.
“Therefore, we have to work together to eradicate poverty, we have to work together to combat diseases and we have to work together to fight corruption and other social vices.”
Young people were present and showed up in large numbers. Edward Kireti is a praise team member for the All Saints Cathedral Youth Service. “It was a glamorous occasion and the attendance itself was overwhelming,” he said. “Despite having so much people from all over the world, there was so much order and all I can say is that it surpassed my expectations. However we expect the new archbishop to stand for and support the youth especially in the area of evangelism so that the church can grow and accomplish its purpose.”
Another young person, Valid Mwalukuku said that his hopes were very high and that it was good to hear that Abp Ole Sapit will endeavour to support the young people economically. “I hope he follows through with his plans especially in youth programmes through tertiary education and others,” he said.
- Click here to read ACNS’ interview with Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit