To end raging dispute, Adventists should read, follow Jesus’ teachings

Police officers in civilian and uniform stand guard at the Mountain View SDA Church in Kangemi, Nairobi. Wrangles at the SDA Church saw police officers from Kangemi Police Station deployed to restore order after members accosted and sent away their former Pastor Wilson Githinji, who turned up with 15 men on 31/8/2019. [Phillip Orwa, Standard]

For the past several months, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The church, that ordinary Kenyans have for long perceived to be among the most organised in the country, has turned out to be chaotic; with constant wrangles and bickering defining it.

Kenyans have been treated to scenes of shouting matches inside the church and threats of violence, culminating in the Government’s decision to shut the wrangle-hit Nairobi Central SDA Church.

Last Sabbath, the wrangles and drama moved from Nairobi Central Church to Mountain View SDA Church in Kangemi where the rivalry between Central Kenya Conference (CKC) and the newly formed Nairobi Cosmopolitan Conference (NCC) were at play.

The Mountain View church had written to CKC a week early to sever ties with it, while pledging allegiance to NCC.

The letter dated August 25 also indicated the members had resolved to release Pastor Wilson Githinji to the CKC, saying they no longer required his services.

And to celebrate the new move, NCC announced it would hold a gospel rally at Mountain View SDA to welcome the second member to join the splinter group.

On that Sabbath, CKC President Pastor John Kiragu, Secretary Jeremy Marambii and Pastor Githinji arrived at the church in company of private security men dressed in black suits planning to stop the service.

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However, a contingent of police officers led by Kabete OCS were at hand to ensure no violent clashes were witnessed. Pastor Kiragu and Marambii later left in protest at what they believed was an illegality.

According to the CKC, its rival NCC is registered as a private entity under the Company’s Act and not a religious entity under the Societies Act.

Sullied image

As a journalist who has been reporting on the crisis bedeviling the SDA, and also as an Adventist, I can only ask the Church to mend its sullied image.

Both the leadership and ordinary members of the Adventist church have a calling to serve humanity; and disputes, such as the raging one are not part of its mission.

However, a huge responsibility is bestowed upon those who hold positions of power to steer the ship to the right direction lest the whole flock drowns in the miasma of wrangles.

Jesus Christ, in his teachings, gave the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and prodigal son, which are guiding principles on how Christians should treat fellow believers and non-believers alike.   

In the book of Luke 15:4-6, Jesus said: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says; ‘rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

Prodigal son

So equally, instead of excommunicating members that the CKC considers errant, the church should have treated them like the prodigal son who demanded a share of his father’s wealth and left only to come back after squandering it with prostitutes.

Luke 15:31-32: “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

To end the wrangles, the church therefore must heed the teachings of Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul’s wise counsel in his various letters to the ancient church. 

If this won’t suffice, the leadership of the Adventist church, right from the General Conference in Maryland USA to the East and Central Africa Division in Nairobi and the CKC, should show leadership and convene a meeting of the warring parties.

In fact, the General Conference President Ted Wilson was in Kigali on Saturday to celebrate 100 years of Adventism in Rwanda. He should have found time to pass by Nairobi to help in sorting out the mess that greedy leadership and gullible faithful have put themselves into.

Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10; “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns that a believer who harboured anger against a brother or sister is just as guilty in God’s eyes as a murderer.

No matter what differences seem to exist, the church can find a solution to the current disputes and forge a common united front in spreading the gospel or else the church will soon be divided right down the middle.

“God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Mr Mosoku is a journalist and comments on topical issues

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Mountain View SDA ChurchSeventh Day Adventist