Charge by the Most Revd Jackson Ole Sapit
at his enthronement as the sixth Archbishop of Kenya
All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, 3 July 2016
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Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta; your Excellency the Deputy President, William Samoei arap Ruto; your Excellencies the High Commissioners and Ambassadors present; your Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury; your Grace Archbishop Eliud and Mama Roda, our preacher for the day; the Most Revd Jacob Chimeledya, Archbishop of Tanzania; all Primates and Bishops here present; your Excellencies the Governors, Honourable Senators and Cabinet Secretaries here present; the Archbishop-Emeritus Benjamin Nzimbi, the Dean of the Province; the officers and delegates to the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Kenya; all clergy and laity here present: praise the Lord!
I feel greatly humbled by your presence today. I am forever grateful to God for appointing me to His service as Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya. This is a task to which I will dedicate myself to the very best of my ability, relying on God in everything. To the electoral college of the Provincial Synod, thank you very much for trusting me and giving me an opportunity to serve this great church and people of Kenya through your votes.
I salute my five brother bishops who also presented themselves for election for the maturity you displayed in the run up to the election. I invite you to join hands with me and the entire House of Bishops to serve this great church and the people of Kenya unreservedly.
To my wife Esther and all our children, thank you for standing with me in prayer and encouragement. Many close friends approached me, either individually or in groups to say that God was leading them to encourage me to offer myself as a candidate. They did this even when the thought had not crossed my mind. I believe that God used you to speak to me. Be blessed.
My Charge as the sixth Archbishop of Kenya and fourth Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese centres on three main areas. The first of these is building capacity for mission. The second is the full deployment of all the human and material resources of the Church for mission. Finally, there is the socially transformative agenda.
Beloved in Christ, many of us will agree with me that we are living in very exciting times, characterised by rapid change in all spheres. However, it would not be far from the truth to say the more things change, the more they remain the same. As a nation, we are at the same level of economic development as Singapore in 1963. Yet Singapore, previously referred to as an Asian “economic tiger” moved from a third world to a first world country in one generation.
As the region’s leading economy, with infrastructure and a human resource base to match, the gap is narrowing as our economic growth rate lags behind those of our neighbours. For example, for 2015, Tanzania grew at 7%, Rwanda at 7.3%, while Kenya at 5.6%. Indeed, only once in 53 years of independence has our economy attained the growth rate of 10%. This was in 1966. Sadly, every election cycle since 1969 has been accompanied by a slowdown in economic growth. This trend has worsened since 1992, with the years prior to this and after the elections also being affected. Yet our Vision 2030 demands that we grow at 10% or more for two decades in order to transform Kenya.
Indeed, time and time again, questions are being asked: what is the role of the Church in a fast changing society? If Christians form 80% of Kenya’s population, why are our elections often violence-prone? Why is our society riddled with corruption, nepotism, and a great level of social stratification? Why are environmental degradation, poverty and disease still ever-present realities?
These questions cause many of us great discomfort, even as moral decay, alcoholism and drug and substance abuse eat into the fabric of our society. By affecting ever-increasing numbers of our young people, these vices compromise our future as a nation.
Beloved in Christ, let me reaffirm that the Anglican Church of Kenya remains committed to working towards being a growing and caring Anglican Church that boldly proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This vision remains our guiding light in the midst of darkness, as we seek to live out our witness in a troubled and broken society. This vision is deeply rooted in the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when he taught us how to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13. The key theme in this prayer is “Let Your Kingdom Come”. This is the theme of my charge.
The core business of the Church
Today, more than any other time in its history, the Church must go beyond herself and reach out to the poor, the outcast and all in the periphery of society as well as to the affluent. Through this outreach, the Church shares their concerns, identifies with their sufferings and worries and helps them to meet their various needs. In this way, we shall let the kingdom of God come and allow His will to be done in the lives of all. This is the essence of mission, which is the core business of the Church.
God’s will in this prayer is that all creation, and mankind in particular, look up to Him for all their needs. Moreover, God desires that all give him glory and honour as they seek to live in harmony with their neighbours. This harmony calls on us to forgive each other’s wrongs as we seek to be forgiven by others even as we ask God to forgive us and daily accept us as His children.
The mandate of the Church at all times is to preach the good news of the kingdom to all God’s people, healing them and socially transforming their lives. This Good News reconciles us with our creator and brings reconciliation to a broken humanity and in the power of the Holy Spirit, even as she exercises her responsibility in stewardship over creation.
For the Church to remain true to her calling she must remain a credible witness to a broken world. As she calls for justice in every sphere, the Church must remain accountable in all her endeavours. Only in this way will she have a basis for holding others to account. In this respect the Church must constantly be on a mission to rally men, women, youth and children of faith to be alert, vigilant and diligent in their witness. Such are the witnesses Christ desires, who will never become complacent and live as if their Lord and Master is never coming back.
Our starting point for undertaking the mission of the Church
Brothers and sisters, you will all agree that any mission that is neither clarified nor understood by those claiming to undertake it, is an exercise in futility. A clear mission casts eyes on the desired destination – which is vision. My vision is to see: “A society of God’s chosen people, honouring God and serving each other in love, within their neighbourhoods, in Kenya and in the world at large”.
For this to happen, the Church must therefore define her understanding of mission prior to developing a robust strategy for mission. In simple terms, our understanding of mission is two-fold. On the one hand is pastoral ministry, which consists of preaching, teaching, healing, prayer, pastoral care, worship and evangelism. On the other hand is the ministry of social transformation, which addresses matters such as physical health, food security, quality of living conditions, peaceful co-existence, justice, provision of quality education, stewardship, and justice in the care of the environment.
For us to fully and effectively realise our vision as we engage in mission and impact society, we must critically consider three areas as key planks of our strategy. The first of these is our capacity for mission. The second is our outreach strategy as we carry the message of the Gospel to all sectors of society, both locally and internationally. The third area is the socially transformative agenda. All my endeavours as the incoming leader of the Anglican Church of Kenya will focus on these planks as we join hands in shaping the world to be a better place in which to live.
Our capacity-building strategy
As we seek to effectively and efficiently engage in mission as defined above, we must critically assess our current capacity. This will be the basis for building more capacity so as to remain relevant in a fast-changing world. I want to thank all my predecessors for laying the foundation on which we desire to build.
The capacity we seek falls into three broad areas:
- Human capacity in terms of skills, competencies, leadership and manpower
- Other resources, which includes financial assets, equipment, technology platforms and systems
- Governance instruments which include our constitutions, policies and systems of management and implementation
Allow me to comment on each of these in turn:
A: Building our human resource capacity
We must appreciate that the Anglican Church of Kenya, like the nation as a whole, is well endowed with huge and highly competent manpower resources. These resources are directly employed by the Church or are in its membership. Taking stock of this manpower is the first strategic action that we must carry out. Secondly, we must seek to utilise this manpower according to its area of expertise as we carry out the mission of the Church.
As we do so, we must take careful note of two crucial matters. Firstly, we must pay careful attention to the gaps that we have, so as to properly evaluate both our strengths and weaknesses in the area of manpower. Secondly we must be cognizant of the fact that the world is constantly changing in all spheres.
We must therefore focus on further the capacity, competencies, character and commitment of those who serve in the Church. Three areas of training that must receive attention in this regard are:
- Identification of those to be trained: Training of ministry team leaders for men’s, women’s and children’s ministries is critical. A second area of focus shall be the training of Bible exposition, pastoral ministry, counselling, intercessory and social development teams. Thirdly, we shall also redouble our efforts in the training of chaplains, social development workers, financial and asset managers and so on.
- Content and mode of delivery of the training: The training to be provided in the three categories just outlined is to be carried out using relevant and appropriate materials and curricula. Of particular concern will be the acquisition of practical skills and lifelong learning.
- Service delivery skills: this important area covers a broad range of skills. In the first instance, we have facilitation skills, communication skills and the use of technology. In the second instance, there is the deployment of a full range of feedback mechanisms in planning, action-taking, monitoring and reporting. Lastly, the service delivery skills that we seek to develop shall encompass the assessment and evaluation of outcomes and impacts for the next levels of training.
For us to build the right human capacity with the competencies, character and commitment required, we must pay careful attention to our fora and training institutions. This will be done through:
- The revitalising and continued support of our countrywide network of our cherished theological colleges, St Paul’s University and Carlile College.
- The establishment of the Kenya Anglican University
- The promotion of other tertiary institutions such as polytechnics and teachers’ colleges.
All our learning and training institutions, be they private or sponsored must strive to be centres of excellence in the service of our Church and nation. This heritage must not be lost.
We will also pay close attention to the ACK Uzima Publishing House, where training materials for worship and other Christian literature are developed. Of particular concern in this regard is the rigorous development and testing of content prior to release for use.
B: Other resources essential for mission
Inasmuch as the human resource base is a critical element in mission, it must go hand in hand with other indispensable elements such as finances, information, technology platforms, equipment and various other assets.
1. The financial viability of mission
Mission has to be resourced and enabled, which demands considerable financial resources. It is our prayer that each local church in our province, each parish and each diocese shall develop and implement viable strategies for the financing of mission. It is essential that funds be internally mobilised so as to eliminate dependency and carry out mission without yielding to any undue influence.
At the provincial level, we shall continue to strengthen the Church Commissioners for Kenya so as to prudently invest and generate resources. This will on the one hand provide resources and technical expertise for the dioceses to invest and attain financial self-dependency. In this way our Gospel message will be shielded from all forms of distortion by anyone who wants to give support with strings attached and thus harm our witness.
2. The information technology platform
The message of the Gospel has to be clearly, urgently and effectively communicated far and wide. Advances in information technology must be harnessed by the Church to this end. The Church can ill afford to be left outside of this platform, for once left behind, we may it difficult to catch up and hence be unable to minister to today’s world.
Today the term community is no longer defined as the sharing of a physical location, language, culture and common resources, or alternatively as shared beliefs or norms. Today’s online community is the largest of all communities, defined neither by location nor by culture but largely by the content and mode of sharing. This is the social media community. The challenge of the Church is therefore to define the space she shall occupy in this community.
As a first step, the time is ripe for the training of social media pastors, evangelists and chaplains who will be engaged with this community. This will make the Church relevant in this vital space. We also desire, alongside such initiatives, to occupy our space in the electronic media platforms of radio and television as we mount and broadcast programmes that promote our agenda in all languages. To this end we thank God for the efforts of our institutions such as the diocese of Kirinyaga and All Saints Cathedral Church towards the establishment of media houses. Such endeavours will be fully supported by our Church at large.
C: Governance capacity
The absence of proper governance systems that can manage both the human and other resources will lead to the failure of the mission enterprise. Central to good governance are simple to understand and well-defined statutes, regulations, rules and agreed upon codes of conduct in the form of constitutions, articles, canons and set policies. All of these central features of good governance implement and guide procedures and practices that are all bound to follow
The Anglican Church of Kenya recently went through a peaceful and harmonious transition which was undergirded by a constitution. Ours is to protect and guard that constitution, while being conscious of the need to update and review it from time to time. This will ensure that the constitution remains relevant to our situations [for] generations to come.
We will therefore encourage each diocese to regularly evaluate and review their constitutions, policies and procedures even as we do the same at the provincial level. Together with the committee of reference and the Chancellors, we shall assess our existing statutes and policies so as to fill any gaps that may be identified.
It is equally our call to the nation’s leadership to enact legislation that ensures the full implementation of our new constitution. As they do so, may they deal with any ambiguities so as to minimise misinterpretations of the laws, besides ensuring that we all adhere to the rule of law and root out impunity.
In summary therefore, when we as the Anglican Church of Kenya focus on those key areas we shall have the capacity to engage in mission. By this engagement will God’s kingdom truly be made manifest in this land.
A call to mission: our strategy for mission
Having extensively discussed matters of capacity in relation to mission, let me now turn my attention to matters of strategy. Brethren we envision a Church that will, through a holistic ministry, mobilise the believers to engage in spiritual, economic, social and political pursuits to the fullest extent possible. Our mission work encompasses the children’s ministry, youth ministry, the Mothers’ Union for women, the Kenyan Anglican Men’s Association, chaplaincy, the general pastoral ministry and worship in addition to social transformation programmes.
As articulated in our strategic plan, we seek empower every department to understand their context of operation and develop relevant missional responses from the grassroots to national levels. We seek to build the capacity of the various boards and committees as their strategic leaders and co-ordinators set clear and achievable goals and diligently follow plans of action.
Through our theological colleges and training institutions such as Carlile, we shall train chaplains for Christian ministry in our schools, hospitals, institutions of higher learning and in the disciplined forces. This comprehensive training programme shall be implemented in the next three years.
For us to deliver our services effectively, sufficient capacity is needed to be built at the level of those co-ordinating programmes in communication, documentation of our stories and updating of our training materials.
The transformative change agenda
In humility I come to the office with an agenda to promote sustainable social transformation both within the Church and in my community at large. It is in this area that my ministry to All Saints Cathedral Diocese, and ultimately the nation at large, will centre.
This agenda is dear to my heart. Looking back to the Lord’s Prayer: “may your will be done on earth as in heaven” is a sentence which can be summed up by John 10:10, a passage that clearly expresses God’s will that we all live life in its fullness.
In addition, John 5: 23-24 says that we have eternal life by hearing and obeying the words of Christ and believing in God. That is why we are called to serve others by meeting their needs and giving our very best that others may have better lives.
I therefore seek to invest my time in providing support to the mission of the Anglican Development Services – ADS-Kenya – which is the social transformation arm of our Church. ADS-Kenya has prioritised the following pillars in her current strategic plan, namely:
- Community development
- Climate change and adaptation
- Institutional strengthening and capacity development
- Knowledge management
Moving this transformative agenda forward is tasked to 10 regions across the country, our 38 dioceses and their local churches and various community based organisations (CBOs) as we collaborate with other partners including the national and county governments. Through this elaborate structure we are well-placed to transform lives.
We have the capacity to mobilise individuals and communities to take advantage of the improved infrastructure in the country as they harness their resources to improve their lives. Some of the tools available to this end include people owned processes (POPs); participatory learning and action (PLA); Church and community mobilisation processes (CCMP) and farmers’ field schools, to name but a few.
Through these processes, people will be empowered to gainfully use their ideas, land and skills, even as they take advantage of an improved road network, the standard gauge railway, widespread availability on the grid electricity and enhanced information technology platforms especially the mobile phone in order to business. Together they can pool their resources to engage in various microenterprises focusing on the marketing and production of various products in conjunction with value addition, so as to enhance their incomes.
However, the only threats to this progressive vision are the disruptions to peace that come up with every electioneering cycle, corruption, unhealthy competition to ascend to power and the attendant stoking up of negative ethnicity – the cancer of modern-day Kenya. Listening to all our leaders speak separately, they all desire a peaceful, prosperous and united Kenya. Sadly, the way they tear one another apart does not demonstrate the beautiful vision they profess to have for our beloved country.
It is therefore my prayer that one day the President, his deputy and the CORD [Coalition for Reforms and Democracy] principals may take a retreat together and have sufficient time to talk about this beautiful Kenya they want to see and communicate this vision to us in words and deeds. This is the Kenya they should leave behind for future generations, long after their political careers have come to an end. The same should happen in our counties.
We, the Church leaders and other key stakeholders, should engage all hardline supporters on both sides of the political divide in a frank discussion of the Kenya we want to hand over to future generations. I believe that such a sincere engagement will lead to the healing of our land and we shall start to work towards a truly prosperous and inclusive Kenya. Then, and only then, will our beloved country be healed and cry no longer.
Let me as I conclude say once more that I am truly grateful to all of you for your prayers and encouragement this far. We look forward to your support as we embark on the big task ahead of us. Thank you all for coming in large numbers to stand with us today. As you all go back, I wish you all God’s blessing and protection now and always.
I thank all of you who put everything else aside to organise and prepare for this big day. I especially thank all our visitors and friends from across the continents for the enormous sacrifice made to be here to witness this day. We thank the President, his deputy and all leaders who have graced this occasion.
Special and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Primate of All England, for his presence, together with that of all primates and bishops. May I also thank all of my predecessors for the great foundation laid on which I undertake to faithfully build.
Last but not least, may I thank all the clergy and laity of the Anglican Church of Kenya, and all other citizens at large, who have made this occasion so memorable. Thank you and God bless you all.