Bishop David Gitari of Kenya, retired, has called the Anglican Church of Kenya to task for the silence of its bishops in the violence that has plagued Kenya since elections in December. Bishop Gitari voiced his criticism in the East African Standard and the Church of England Newspaper picked up the story last week. Titus One Nine picked it up today. Read it HERE.
From the Church of England Newspaper:
"In an interview with the Standard, Dr Gitari recounted the church-led campaign to end one-party political rule in the 1990s. "The Church is a reconciler and a reconciler does not take sides unless he is completely sure the side he is taking is the right one," he said.
However, we are called "the light of the world and salt of the earth. Whoever does wrong has to be challenged, whether that person is your brother or tribesman," the retired archbishop said.
Kenya's Anglican bishops either were "not courageous enough or have taken sides," he charged. The church's bishops were split down the middle along tribal lines in the current dispute and "it is wrong."
They were "failing to be prophetic," and had lost the public's trust, Dr Gitari said."
The National Council of Churches of Kenya and CMS both have acknowledged the failings by providing contexts for leaders to explore the extent to which they participated in divisiveness in Kenya.
The Anglican Communion News Service is carrying an article on the current situation in Kenya that follows up on the East African Standard article. The ACNS article is a bit strange in that it circles around the "situation" in the churches without every naming it. The partisanship is named in the following:
"On 15th February 2008, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) released a statement that read in Part: "We regret that we as church leaders were unable to effectively confront these issues because we were partisan. Our efforts to forestall the current crisis were not effective because we as the membership of NCCK did not speak with one voice. We were divided in the way we saw the management of the elections; We identified with our people based on ethnicity; and After the elections, we are divided on how to deal with the crisis.
As a result, we together with other church leaders have displayed partisan values in situations that called for national interests. The church has remained disunited and its voice swallowed in the cacophony of those of other vested interests. We call on church leaders to recapture their strategic position as the moral authority of the nation. We have put in place measures to enable us overcome the divisive forces, and set off on a new beginning. As the church we will do our best in helping achieve the rebirth of a new Kenya".
CMS held a one day post election violence debrief for all Nairobi office staff on Wednesday 14th February 2008. This session enabled all the staff members to speak out their feelings on the current situation and how they have been affected. This was followed by a session on dealing with trauma and how we can be able to help other people who are going through the same."
The central point here? "The church has remained disunited and its voice swallowed in the cacophony of those of other vested interests."
Anglicans on all sides of issues and Episcopalians across the great divide have all been praying for peace in Kenya. Now it appears we need also to pray for forgiveness and for a renewed possibility that the churches of Kenya, including the Anglican Church of Kenya, can find again their collective voice as a moral authority.
We all stumble and fall. The question is how are we to be lifted up? Bishop Gitari, and those in the NCCK and the ACK who recognized the leadership's stumbling into tribal and ethnic allegences, are calling the churches to account. With the truth out and reconciliation possible Kenya's churches and their leadership can again be part of the solution, not part of the problem.