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Rev Dr Emily Onyango appointed first woman bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya

Achieving Woman
 Rev Dr Emily Onyango of ACK Diocese of Bondo (Courtesy)

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) finally appoints a female assistant bishop after decades of the church’s existence. Rev Dr Emily Onyango, ACK’s longest serving female clergy, becomes the first woman to hold such a senior position in the church.

Rev Dr Onyango was appointed during the Synod of the Diocese of Bondo, Siaya County, where she has been a priest and canon, and she will deputise Rt Rev Prof David Kodia. The Synod is the Supreme Council of the Anglican Church which meets once every three years.

Rev Dr Onyango is a lecturer at St Paul’s University and she hold a PhD in History from the University of Wales. She also sits in the church’s education committee.

ACK, a predominantly conservative church, has been reluctant to appoint women to senior positions. Some members of the church are said to have been opposed to such a move saying it would need more consideration saying women are expected to be confined in their feminine roles.

However, times have changed and the church has since approved the appointed of women to the position of bishop.

In a Synod sitting in December 2013, the ACK Diocese of Eldoret approved the proposal to elect women bishops and in August 2014, Maseno West diocese also approved ordination of women bishops.

The other significant development in ACK, in line with having women in senior positions, was when Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogo, a priest at the church, was nominated for the position of bishop in Embu.

Rev Canon Mbogo is the current provisional Secretary of ACK and the chairperson of the National Council of Churches in Kenya.

Rt Rev Ellinah Wamukoyah was the first female Anglican bishop in Africa when she was elected the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland. She is married to Wamukoya Kadima from the Mumias diocese.

The first woman to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion was Barbara Harris, who was consecrated the suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts in the Episcopal Church in America in February 1989. A suffragan bishop serves as an assistant to a diocesan bishop.

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