A storm is brewing in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Bondo Diocese, over the appointment of an assistant bishop.
Six lay synod members have filed a petition objecting to the consecration of Emily Onyango as the assistant head of the diocese.
Dr Onyango, a lecturer at St Paul’s University in Limuru, is expected to be the first woman to hold such a senior position in the church.
She was picked during the synod sitting on January 12.
A synod is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. Synod comes from a Greek word meaning “assembly” or “meeting” and is analogous with the Latin word concilium meaning “council”.
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The petitioners - Dick Wandeo, Florence Okungu, Joseph Bonyo, Paul Akello, Julius Obong’o and Stephen Auma - claimed the process of appointing Onyango was not procedural as it disregarded the diocesan constitution.
In a petition dated January 19, 2021 and addressed to ACK Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, they claimed creation of the position Onyango is scheduled to hold has not been supported by the synod as provided in the constitution of the church.
The petitioners want the archbishop to institute a joint fellowship with the diocesan synod to deliberate on the matter. They argued that the diocese cannot financially sustain the office of the assistant bishop.
“This is evidenced by the fact that the parishes were, as of January 1, 2021, in arrears on their financial obligations to the diocese to the tune of about Sh13 million. This is almost equivalent to the annual expenditure of the diocese,” reads the petition.
They further claim some parish vicars have not received their salaries of about Sh40,000 each per month for more than one year even though gross emoluments of the bishop, amounting to about Sh500,000, are paid without fail.
Onyango’s consecration is slated for March 27 and the diocese has asked its members to contribute some cash to support her office. The petitioners are asking the archbishop not to approve Onyango’s appointment.
But Sapit, during his recent tour of Bondo, said: “The decision to create the position of an assistant bishop was not mine, but when the procedures were followed, we fully support.”
Area bishop David Godia termed the petition as baseless and of no consequence.
Onyango was not immediately available for comment.