Halleluyah! Church leaders united against bad politics
OPINION | By David Oginde | June 19th 2021
Church leaders have made a commitment to take a united stand against bad politics. Speaking at the close of a three-day virtual summit on the Church and politics, the clerics first acknowledged that they have been divided, and that their discordant voices had severely undermined the impact of the Church on national issues. The consequence is the Church seems to have ceded ground to politicians, who have gone ahead to set the agenda and narrative for national discourse.
Unfortunately, such discourse has been mainly negative, leading to a society at war with itself – we insult, abuse, and even kill one another, sometimes over minor issues. The leaders, therefore, resolved to arise and reclaim and reshape the national narrative.
The summit was convened by Christian leaders from diverse denominations, churches and organisations. They partnered with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).
Though largely virtual, the summit had more than 4,000 registered participants, mostly Kenyans, with a few from over thirty other countries globally. The summit was an opportunity for candid conversations on the mandate of the Church in setting the agenda for social and political engagement.
Whereas the Church has always been exhorted to keep away from politics, the leaders declared, “Our convictions are even stronger now, that the Church cannot be alienated from politics and her God-given mandate to be an agent of transformation.”
They argued that “politics is too dirty to be left only to politicians. Only the Church has the power and mandate to transform politics.” Thus, they resolved to train and empower church leaders on how to engage with politics and politicians from a Kingdom perspective.
The leaders further committed to foster unity within the Church to engage in politics as a united force. They also promised to educate Church members on the place of politics and importance of leadership and government, to move from a perfectionist to a protectionist theology of government.
“We will therefore pray for and work with leaders that pursue the welfare of the people and honour God, but will stand against those that perpetrate evil and undermine the welfare of citizens,” the leaders said. They promised to encourage members to be active in the national scene and play their roles as citizens both of heaven and of the countries.
The summit resolved to put mechanisms into place to encourage, train and support those who sense the calling of God to join elective politics. However, speaking at the summit, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi cautioned those entering politics to consider several factors. Among them was the fact that the journey is tough, costly, and full of temptations. He advised that everyone entering politics must have a personal calling and conviction – and plan carefully.
Discussing the role of the Church in times of political crisis, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Catholic Arch-dioceses of Nyeri called on Christians to position themselves as mediators who can build true bridges in times of political fallout. Church leaders should therefore build personal credibility through impartial engagement with politics and political leaders.
On money matters, the leaders committed to encourage and train Church leaders to resist the temptation to be bought or enlisted by individual political leaders or parties. At the same time, the leaders committed to take up the Church mandate as custodians of moral, ethical, and societal values. They promised to champion the building of a nation founded on strong values.
At another level, the leaders promised to partner with relevant organs of government to support the fight against corruption, negative ethnicity, and selfish leadership. They committed to courageously and with wisdom, take up prophetic mandate to advocate for social justice and social action.
They promised to constructively engage government and other organs of society to ensure the entrenchment of practices that respect human dignity, enhance human welfare, and honour God. A key objective was to set the agenda for engagement. If all that was promised at the summit were done, it seems like the Simba will have come of age – to roar in the jungle.
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