Stormy NCCK meeting settles leadership row

Members of the National Council of Churches of Kenya prepare to address the press in Limuru yesterday after a conference on the controversial amendments to NCCK by-laws. [Courtesy]
A last-minute decision to drop controversial amendments to National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) by-laws saved the day for the umbrella organisation of Kenyan churches.

However, it left lingering doubts on the unity of the council.

It was a culmination of weeks of jostling, intrigues and scheming, which ended at the Limuru Conference and Country Home where a consensus was reached at the last minute and General Secretary-designate Chris Kinyanjui endorsed.

Some NCCK members had opposed the process through which Kinyanjui was recruited. The current general secretary, Canon Peter Karanja, dismissed the concerns, reluctantly agreed to convene yesterday’s meeting, but introduced drastic changes to NCCK by-laws to checkmate the protest.

And as the men and women of the cloth streamed into the venue with sealed lips and guarded gates behind them, there was tension on what would come out of it. Their own chairman, Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, and a host of other leaders were missing in protest.

Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit chaired the meeting in the absence of Ndambuki.

As a condition to agree to the appointment of Kinyanjui, members demanded the formation of an oversight committee to check his office.

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“We reflected on the scripture recorded in John 17:10-19 and especially noted Verse 11. Guided by this scripture, the executive committee recognised that the council has for more than 100 years worked to reconcile Kenyans, and has a commitment to being the hope, conscience and light of the nation,” a statement issued at the end the meeting said.

The Bible verse cited says: “I will remain in the world no longer but are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one.”

The statement had been prepared for signing by the two protagonists in the dispute - Ndambuki and Karanja, but only the latter signed it, with someone else signing in the place of the former.

Ndambuki had earlier this week opposed yesterday’s meeting until the agenda of amendments was dropped.

According to the communication, the executive committee listened keenly to the issues raised by members who had concerns regarding the recruitment of the general secretary. The issues were then intensively discussed, clarifications provided and consensus reached on each item.

“In the process, members recognised that there are some gaps in the governance instruments and processes, and it was agreed that these will be addressed at an appropriate time. Members of the executive committee forgave each other for any offences that were occasioned prior to the meeting,” the statement said.

Nevertheless, the statement continued, the committee was satisfied that NCCK by-laws were followed in the recruitment of Kinyanjui and proceeded to endorse his appointment. He will, therefore, assume office on October 1.

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National Council of Churches of KenyaKenyan churchesChris Kinyanjui