Church leaders back code of conduct to curb rogue preachers

Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, of Anglican Church of Kenya. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Church leaders have welcomed the government's move to crack down on rogue preachers and regulate operations at places of worship.

They said the code of conduct launched this week by religious leaders, human rights activists and lawyers will help weed out those who masquerade as pastors and tarnish the image of the church.

The code of conduct comes after the recent Shakahola massacre that claimed over 430 lives in Kilifi, forcing the government to de-register five churches, including the Good News International Ministries owned by Paul Mackenzie.

Some of the guidelines in the document state that the church shall promote and enhance the well-being of the society with Christian beliefs and convictions, and refrain from any conduct that undermines the constructive role that churches play in the society.

The church shall also respect and uphold the sanctity of life, and refrain from any conduct that devalues or destroys life.

Bishop Francis Njoroge, the pastor of Christ Assemblies Church (CAC), said he fully supported the rules to govern places of worship.

"We will bring some sanity in the church by exposing genuine servants of God from the rogue ones," he said.

He was speaking in Nairobi while inaugurating a new church.

He added that those who opposed the self-regulating guidelines did not mean any good to the church.

"If you are clean in your dealings, you have nothing to be worried about," he said.

Ben Simiyu, the presiding clerk of Friends Church Quakers Nairobi Yearly Meeting, said the church had formulated policy framework documents in virtually all aspects of church governance.

"False and misleading teachings must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. Christ's message is about the love of God and not prosperity, taking away people's property and lives recklessly," he said.

"Quakers must not just preach, but live their faith and practice - Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship."

He also urged leaders taking part in the bipartisan talks to engage with an open mind and listen to other leaders' opinions.

"The government and opposition should dialogue genuinely in the country's best interests. Let no leader come to the negotiating table with some cards hidden under the table for self-gains. Let them not scuttle the talks with utterances that will trigger stalemate," he said.

Bishop Emeritus David Oginde, the chairman of Ethics and Anticorruption Commission (EACC), said some church leaders operated under the guise of preaching and tainted the image of the church.

"This code of conduct is not a weapon but an agreement on what we can do. The danger we have now is that the churches can be shut down by the government, as it once happened before," he said.

Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, of Anglican Church of Kenya, said the guidelines would ensure church leaders were accountable for what happened in their places of worship.

"Let the congregants hold their leaders accountable. When you are a leader and you do contrary, the congregation will stand and put you to task demanding an explanation," he said.

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