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ACK to pen biographies of Church leaders who spread Christianity

The African Church of Kenya, Diocese of Mombasa, is documenting the history of African Archdeacons who took the cue from the missionaries to spread Christianity on the Kenyan Coast.

The church is hosting the Kenya Christian Biographies Conference under the theme: Reclaiming the voices of first-generation Kenyan church leaders, organised by the ACK Diocese of Mombasa Research Institute (DoMRI) and the Dictionary of African Christian Biographies Project.

ACK, in partnership with Boston University, has embarked on research that will be published, documenting what happened aeons ago, and through the study, the current generation could learn valuable lessons.

Rev. Alphonce Baya, Bishop Diocese of Mombasa, said the research focuses on persons who took part in the missionary and their notable works.

“When the gospel came in 1844, it focused on preaching and building hospitals and schools. For most of the people who undertook the works, their history has not been documented,” said Rev. Baya.

“As a result of that, we are losing the history and their inputs in the society of the Coast and the whole country,” he noted.

The research will document the contribution of Archdeacon Canon Nathaniel Mwari Baya to discern the importance of formal and pastoral education for church missions in the Coast region.

Archdeacon Mwari received the Christian religion from the missionaries at a tense time of emergency in 1952. The researchers would want to know how he was able to work with the missionaries during the clamour for independence.

“This research finding has the potential to motivate the current generation of church leaders to prioritise evangelism and social concerns as essentials for church missions,” said the Head of DoMRI, Dr. Manjewa Mbwangi.

The biographical studies will also delve into the life of Mama Maryam Mwang’ombe, the wife of the first African Bishop who took over from the missionaries. She was at the forefront of championing women’s interests and advocating against Female Genital Mutilation.

“We will look at how Christianity grew from those who took over from the missionaries and passed to the emerging church with African leadership,” stated Dr. Mbwangi.

Dr. Michele Sigg from Boston University said ACK is the second largest denomination in the country with an extensive and rich history that needs to be documented.

She stressed the importance of documenting the history of women who were the majority and were active in ministry, teaching, and leadership.

“Kenya is one of the countries where the Anglican Church is ordaining women and women bishops. Women from the time of Jesus were very close to Jesus. Women have a place in ministry. Documenting their stories is very important. We want to recover the lost stories of Christians in Africa so that there is a history of African Christianity to be written,” said Dr. Sigg.

Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop Emeritus of ACK and former Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), praised the diocese of Mombasa for leading the way in the preservation of history, saying it was a way of strengthening Christianity and the written biographies would benefit future generations.

By Sadik Hassan and Nuru Soud

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