Bishop Abraham Mulwa was yesterday installed as the African Inland Church (AIC) Presiding Bishop.
Bishop Mulwa took over from Rev Silas Yego who has been at the helm of the church for 18 years.
The handing over marks the end of an era for 70-year-old Yego, who has served in AIC for 45 years, 18 of which he held the position of the Presiding Bishop in Kenya.
Present during the function held at AIC Milimani, Nairobi, were President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
During his reign, Rev Yego enjoyed a close relationship with the country’s top leaders, including Uhuru, Ruto and retired President Daniel Moi's family, which was represented at the ceremony by the Baringo senator.
The president described Yego as an extraordinary man under whose leadership the AIC church grew, as well as for his efforts in fostering peace.
“You are handing over a much larger and more grounded church. I am sure the new Presiding Bishop will take it to greater heights,” Uhuru said.
He also pledged his support to the new bishop, noting the church plays an important role, particularly in helping the government with issues such as education and healthcare.
Ruto said the church laid a foundation for his leadership by mentoring him and other leaders.
Gideon, a member of the church, told the congregation that retired President Moi was doing well.
“I want to thank Bishop Yego who comes to pray with him (Moi). The only message he has is that he is fighting the good fight, but most importantly, he is keeping the faith,” he said.
The presence of Uhuru and Ruto caused excitement on the back of speculation on the Jubilee leaders' strained relationship.
Uhuru and Ruto exchanged smiles and firmly shook hands soon after the president entered the church. They sat side by side and whenever a speaker made a funny comment, let out a hearty laugh as the service progressed.
While the programme had allocated time for Uhuru and the accompanying political leaders to speak at the end of the service, the head of State excused himself after his short speech, explaining that he had to attend a family function.
“I won’t be working forever, I will have to go to my family,” Uhuru said, insisting that it was important for him to also give priority to his family.
Several leaders, including Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, credited the church for its mentoring role, which they say propelled them into leadership.
They also pledged support to the church’s new leadership.
Yego reflected on his achievements, stating: "We were able to start Biblia Husema Radio, which now covers the whole country, and we have a TV station based in Eldoret."
He said the church had empowered women who had been left behind for a long time.
"Now our ladies are our pastors, like the menfolk. We have also built a strong human force of pastors, 7,200 pastors from 3,000. Our university has also grown. When I came we had only 50 students, now we have over 3,000," Yego said.
Other leaders who attended the service included former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Gatundu MP Moses Kuria.
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