Churches launch code of conduct to promote accountability, resolve disputes

Religious leaders from various churches in Eldoret, led by Fr. Thomas Kigen of Soy Catholic Parish (wearing white), join hands in prayer for the country, on August 13, 2023. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Churches in Kenya have unveiled a new code of conduct and governance guidelines that will require them to have their own internal mechanisms for resolving disputes and promoting accountability, transparency and ethical conduct among church leaders and members.

The code of conduct, which was launched at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, recognizes the role of the Bible as the principal rule of faith and also the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Charles Kanjama, the chair of the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, said the code of conduct is in line with Article 159 of the Constitution, which recognizes the role of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and their enforceability.

“What we have done in this code is to create the principles for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that involve both the processes, the structures in place and the nature of disputes that will be dealt with,” he said.

He added that the code of conduct will help the state and security agencies to know how to deal with cases involving church leaders who may lead people astray because of freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by Article 32 of the Constitution.

“When we went round the country, we realized because we were also talking to the security establishments under the national government administration officers and so on, they were also a bit paralysed, they didn’t know what to do when they hear that, there is this pastor or this bishop leading people astray because of freedom of religion which is found in our constitution,” he said.

“So when we have umbrella church organisations, when we have these fellowships then they know where to go to. So you can find a county commissioner calls the chair of the interfaith council or the pastors fellowship and vice versa,” he added.

He also clarified that the state cannot regulate Christian teachings or beliefs, but can intervene when such teachings or beliefs lead to actions that endanger or harm others.

 “In regard to teachings, it is like the point in between the internal thoughts, conscience and beliefs and the external action because the teachings motivate people to action and this is where the church leaders need to come in,” he said.

 The event was attended by several church leaders, including Anglican Church in Kenya Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, National Council of Churches of Kenya Chair Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, Redeemed Gospel Church Bishop Kepha Omae, Green Pastures Tabernacle Church Bishop Stanley Mwalili and All Saints Cathedral Provost Rev. Tom Otieno among others.

 The new code of conduct and governance comes in the wake of Shakahola massacre in Malindi where more than 400 people died.

The incident implicated preacher Paul Mackenzie as an example of how religion can be misused to the detriment of society.