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Sapit names three candidates for bishop seat

By Nathan Ochunge | Published Tue, April 17th 2018 at 11:05, Updated April 17th 2018 at 11:10 GMT +3
ACK Diocese of Mumias Bishop Joseph Wandera (right)prays for Canon Charles Asilutwa, Canon Jacob Mbunjiro and Canon Peter Adolwa during retirement service of outgoing Maeno North Diocese Bishop Simon Oketch at Bukhungu stadium on April 15, 2018. (Benjamin Sakwa, Standard)

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has named three candidates seeking to replace outgoing Maseno North Diocese Bishop Simon Oketch.

Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit said the candidates were picked after being vetted by 22 priests who comprise the church’s electoral college.

“Seven candidates applied to vie in the forthcoming elections. After grilling, four were eliminated. The remaining three will face off in the April 24 elections,” said Mr Sapit.

They are Canon Charles Kaskan Asilutwa, Canon Peter Adolwa and Canon Jacob Mbunjiro.

Mr Asilutwa is an archdeacon at ACK Esiandumba Parish while Mr Mbunjiro is an archdeacon at ACK Maseno Parish. Rev Adolwa works at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

Sapit said the winner would be consecrated and enthroned as bishop at Bukhungu Stadium on June 10.

Maintain peace

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“We are calling upon supporters to maintain peace and tranquility as the diocese heads to the elections. The candidates must also handle themselves with decorum before, during and after the elections. Whoever goes against the law will be disqualified,” he said.

“Leadership comes from God and regardless of who will be elected, the losers are expected to support him during his tenure as bishop.”

The Church law says the winner must garner at least three-quarters of the total votes. In the event of a run-off, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated, making it a two-horse race.

Mr Oketch, who comes from Esitsimi village in Luanda sub-county, Vihiga County, took over from Bishop James Mundia (now deceased) in 1995 at the age of 40. He immediately ran into headwinds.

“The four priests that I defeated in the election lodged a case in the High Court in Kakamega before I could be enthroned as bishop,” Oketch said.

“They blocked me from assuming office on the grounds that I was too young to hold such a position. They also felt the election process was not consistent with the electoral laws of the church.”

As a result, he served as bishop-elect for two years without an office or funds. The court later dismissed the case.

Retiring prelate

The retiring prelate will be remembered for putting up 32 secondary schools, taking priests to university and constructing a commercial building in Kakamega town whose rent is used to pay diocesan priests.

“We have over 50 priests in the diocese who are graduates. Two of them are doing their Masters in Divinity degree and another two are finishing their PhDs at St Paul’s University in Limuru,” he said.

The 65-year-old bishop has three sons and one daughter.

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