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History as first woman bishop, Rose Okeno, takes the reins

By John Shilitsa | September 12th 2021

Bishop Rose Okeno holding the pastoral staff. Left, Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Rose Okeno emerged from a small tent serving as a dressing room in golden episcopal robes with a marching mitre on her head.

She held firmly on a pastoral staff, one of the instruments of authority handed over to her moments earlier by the Anglican Church Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit.

It is the moment both Okeno and the hundreds of Anglican church faithful who filled Butere Girls grounds to the brim had been waiting for.

Okeno made calculated but sure steps and occasionally would smile at the congregation that cheered her as she walked towards the main dais sandwiched in the middle by clerics donning white robes blended with red.

She had just taken the oath of office and looked determined to hit the road running as the fourth bishop of Butere ACK diocese.

Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Rose Okeno (C) at Butere Girls grounds. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Ole Sapit had also handed over Symbols of the Ministry and tools of the trade to the new bishop including Holy Scriptures, the church flag, across and pastoral staff all symbolising the change of guard at Butere ACK church.

The elaborate ritual of consecration and enthronement lasted about two hours including reciting four different oaths.

"She is now the Right Rev Rose Okeno. I congratulate her for rising above cultural norms and her courage that saw her battle it out with men for this position and make history as the first woman ACK bishop," said ole Sapit.

Immediately taking the oath, Okeno took her place on the main podium from where she gave her acceptance speech.

Bishop Rose Okeno's consecration and enthronement lasted about two hours. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

She took the congregants down memory lane delving into details of how her predecessors worked hard for the sake of the church.

"I remember the words of our founding bishop Horrace Okumu who served as Butere Bishop between 1993 and 2006. He asked us how we were prepared to build the church from the foundation of the missionaries and urged us to do more."

She also recalled the rein of the late bishop Michael Sande who served between 2006 and 2013 and Tim Wambunya who took over thereafter.

ODM leader Raila Odinga congratulates Bishop Rose Okeno (left). [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The Rt Rev Bishop Wambuya opted for early retirement paving way for Okeno's election. In her speech, Okeno vowed to lead the congregation with wisdom. She said she will uphold transparency and accountability as taught by her predecessors.

"Our third bishop talked about hope and transformation of Butere diocese, this far we have come but the main challenge remains to build our diocese," said Okeno.

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