Kenyan clergy urge citizens to reach out to each other in peace

By agency reporter
March 30, 2018

“Reach out to one another in peace and humility. Stretch your hands to your neighbours, despite their circumstances. Go down on your knees and wash their feet,” the Rev Joseph Njakai, an Anglican priest in the Mount Kenya West diocese urged on 28 March 2018.

He is among many church leaders in the East African nation, who have called for compassion, humility, peace and love, as they prepared to join other Christians across the world in Easter celebrations.

The leaders have been calling for peace in a country deeply divided after lengthy electioneering last year. The election crisis added to other challenges such as climate change, which has ignited hunger causing droughts and floods that have displaced communities. In the past, the church leaders have led communities in tree planting campaigns to turn back the trend.

The HIV pandemic has also been a key concern for bishops, pastors and priests, who warn it is still a threat to their congregations. For them, Easter season is the right time to offer a practical and spiritual response.

On 29 March, Njakai will be leading by example, washing the feet of about 100 Christians, part of the congregation in his 500-member church, to demonstrate humility.

At the moment, Njakai emphasised, it had become very important for Kenyans to submit to one another in humility and love, in the face of growing political and ethnic animosity. “Humility is very relevant to the country and the world at the moment. It is a cornerstone of the servant leadership, which we must emphasise,” he said.

On Palm Sunday, various church leaders across the country emphasised that Easter reminded all Kenyans and Christians to embrace one another.

Roman Catholic bishop Alfred Rotich who heads the Churches’ Justice and Peace Commission said the church would be preaching reconciliation as part of the Easter message. “Let us use Easter to restore oneness and integrity of Kenya. Let us restore the good relationship we had broken in the past,” he said.

Jane Ng’ang’a, the coordinator of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS  (INERELA+ Kenya) said compassion was a key focus in this year’s Easter season. “The death of Christ was out of compassion for humanity, so we are called to show compassion to the less fortunate,” she said.

During the Lenten period, the coordinator has been working with other pastors to reach out to young people trapped in alcoholism. The clerics have supporting youth access to medication and psychiatric services, treating the issue as a disease. Many of them are street children, either part of the street families or living alone. “They need compassion and care, since their circumstances increases vulnerability to HIV,” said Ng’ang’a.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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