The Kitale diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has finally broken up after long-running wrangles over leadership.
More than 10,000 members from West Pokot County have left and formed a diocese in Kapenguria.
The members officially launched the new diocese on Sunday and declared they would work directly under the ACK North Rift region’s leadership.
However, Kitale Diocese Bishop Stephen Kewasis said the split was a violation of the ACK constitution.
Trouble began two years ago following claims of poor leadership, which saw some members disrupt church activities more than once.
Those opposed to Kewasis also accused him of failing to address their grievances. The ‘rebel’ members were also unhappy with the bishop’s refusal to appoint Samson Tuliapus as the suffragan of Kapenguria.
A suffragan is a bishop appointed to help a diocesan bishop.
Kewasis is said to have rejected the request, claiming Mr Tuliapus had integrity issues that needed to be sorted out.
In a letter seen by The Standard, Kewasis accused the break-away group of various offences including facilitating unlawful church services.
“... you have been collecting monies, promoting division, discord and disharmony among the faithful, advocating for creation of the proposed Kapenguria diocese, campaigning against tithes and inciting church officials against transfers,” the letter said.
“These people would not be causing problems if I had picked one of them as bishop. They are power hungry. They want to become bishops by all means possible, including dividing the church. They think they can become bishops through the back door.”
Kewasis denied claims he was running the diocese like personal property.
“How does running a diocese become personal business? It is the synod that makes a decision on who becomes a bishop. The constitution does not allow a bishop to run the diocese single-handedly. All decisions are made by committees and the highest organ of the committees is the diocesan synod. If I had misbehaved and led the diocese in the wrong way, I would not be here and may even have been taken to court.”
Church elder Daniel Lopuriang said: “During a meeting last year, our members unanimously resolved the consecration of Mr Tuliapus should not take place until the pending issues are settled. We did not agree on creating a diocese in Kapenguria.”
The ‘rebel’ group accused diocese leaders of misleading Archbishop Jackoson ole Sapit about what was happening in Kitale.
“We are their employers and our decision is final. We have taken this direction because the bishops are confused,” said Isaac Makaliko, the secretary of the Kapenguria diocese.