Spread cheer and hope, church leaders urge as faithful hold vigil to welcome new year

Revellers during the 2023 new year celebrations in Nairobi on January 1, 2023. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

Faith leaders across the country have called for peace and reconciliation in their New Year messages.

The religious leaders asked Kenyans to commit to being ambassadors of peace who will not divide the nation along tribal lines.

On Saturday, most churches observed night vigils before ushering in the new year. In Vihiga and Kakamega counties, faithful congregated in churches where messages of hope were preached.

Bishop Joseph Obanyi of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega urged the government to fight corruption.

While preaching during a mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kakamega yesterday, Obanyi said corruption should not be tolerated in the new year.

“We are thankful to the Almighty for helping us cross the year and we urge our congregants to keep the faith so that the year ahead will be prosperous,” said Reverend Bony Karani of Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) in Vihiga.

Pastor Patrick Mukhwana of Ematiha Full Gospel Churches urged Christians to lead by example in doing good.

In Nakuru, the Reverend Antony Njoroge of Bible Church in conjunction with the L-Squared Foundation fed more than 200 street families. 

“As we celebrate the new year, we must recognise that those on the streets should not be there but in homes. Even as we show compassion to them, we must address their woes,” said Rev Njoroge.

He called on the county and national government to expedite rehabilitating and re-integration of the street families back into society.

“As churches and humanitarian organisations, we are making efforts towards supporting these families with jobs that can allow them lead normal lives. This however needs support from government,” said Njoroge.

At Metro Church in Nakuru, Bishop Mike Brawan called on Kenyans to show love to one another after a prolonged season of heated politics.

Entertainment spots in the city were a beehive of activity on January 1, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Bishop Brawan who also treated street children to a feast said the government and communities have a social duty to support the less fortunate.

“Let 2023 be a year of showing love to one another. Let us stand with each other, especially the less fortunate to allow them access to basic needs, social services and education,” said Brawan.

He challenged the government to institute measures that will lower the cost of living terming it as the main contributor to the challenges facing families.

“The economy is not doing well. People are struggling with the little money they are making. The government should address the situation. It is already a heavy burden to Kenyans,” said Brawan.

At St Leonida Catholic Church in Kisumu, Father Karoli Achok called on the faithful to renew their faith in the new year.

“We must begin to embrace serving the church because that is our responsibility,” he said.

Pastor George Morara from Kisii Central SDA Church prayed for hope and happiness. “For two years we did not celebrate New Year. This is God’s work that we can come together as Kenyans to usher in 2023. Covid-19 had taken us back but because of God’s providence we can congregate and offer our prayers,” he said.

He said voters went to the polls in August 2022 to elect new leaders whom he said should now give hope to the struggling Kenyans.

“Politicians should strive to maintain peace and work for the people. Kenya will only prosper when we have tranquillity. Leadership is God-given and this New Year, we should all play our roles in ensuring we make a positive step in our economic and social lives,” he said.

Mombasa's Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach was thronged by merrymakers on January 1, 2023. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

At Gospel Embassy Church, the clergy called on faithful to lead in the transformation agenda.

In Homa Bay, pastor Nixon Rangili of Pala Maranatha Faith Assemblies in South Kabuoch called on Kenyans to embrace one another, saying the season was full of hope for the nation. 

“It is only by being a brother’s or a sister’s keeper that we can unite and take the country forward. Let there be real unity among Kenyans. The church too must play its rightful role in ensuring communities hold together,” Rangili said during a night fellowship on Saturday. 

Rangili’s sentiments were supported by church elders Joseph Chiaji and Sophia Ogonda, who urged the faithful to pray for the nation at a time of serious economic hardships.   

Elsewhere, hundreds of revelers thronged entertainment joints in Mbale and Chavakali towns on the eve of new year.

“We are happy that we have seen a new year. The only sad thing is that we have a struggling economy and food prices are too high. Today we will share the little food with the needy,” said Mary Kihusa, a resident of Vihiga.

Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo said he was looking forward to a year of enviable service delivery and socio-economic development.

“May the new year be full of light, laughter, happiness, success and prosperity to all,” said Ottichilo. 

[Brian Kisanji, Kennedy Gachuhi, Eric Abuga and Olivia Odhiambo]