Trip Two

Connection Kenya: Trip Two (July-August 2005)

African Church

In preparation for the second missionary trip, many parishes and people from around the Midwest donated forty-five Books of Common Prayer. More vestments and things of the altar were also donated.

It was with great anticipation that “the Teacher”, Fr. Francis Wardega, headed to Kenya in July of 2005. How much of the previous trip and instructions would be remembered? Would those who had worked so hard during that first month together have persevered? Would they be back?

Upon arrival in Africa, Fr. Francis discovered that the vast majority of the men had continued and would be returning. Two postulants had been dismissed and two had died from Malaria but the overwhelming majority were back and eager to learn new things. Four new men were taught the subjects from the first trip and then moved into the Studying the BCPclasses on Prayerbook Use and Liturgy. Forty-two men, clergy and postulants, were taught how to use the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for personal and parish use. Although the teacher was the initial leader at the first Morning Prayer and Compline, by the end of the time, the local men were leading the services. These men treasured their prayer books. Their interest was so great that of the forty-two men trained, – forty passed the test on how to use the BCP.

The prayer books were like gold in the diocese. Bishop Koyo set up a system where the prayer book belonged to the Diocese and were used by individuals. Upon death or separation from the Diocese, the prayer book would be returned to the Bishop so that this treasure could be passed on.

Another diocese sent two priests to observe the training. They asked for prayer books but all had been distributed. These two priests shared how their diocese had little opportunity to know even the readings for Sundays. Fr. Francis had a calendar with him that showed the Sunday readings. The two priests from the Diocese of the River Nzoia South gratefully accepted the calendar and duplicated it for all their fellow clergy.

The classes on the prayer book that Fr. Francis taught brought a new revelation into the lives of the Kenyan clergy and postulants. Daily prayer had not been a part of their life and they had little knowledge of the liturgical seasons, their meanings, and how such information was to be communicated to the congregants. Holy days and solemn feasts were basically unknown. They had never heard of Epiphany or Maundy Thursday. All Saints day and Ash Wednesday passed each year without any observation. Previously the sermons of the African clergy had been based on whatever they wanted to talk about that Sunday. No one had ever told them that you should base the sermon on the readings of the day and the liturgical season. This was all to change. The excitement of the students at these new and holy concepts filled the room with an almost electric charge.

When it came to teaching the classes on liturgy, the subjects covered included theAfrican Altar importance of reverence and preparation and the proper use of the gifts of the Spirit in liturgy. One of the interesting items that was discovered during this time had to do with a miscommunication of liturgical instructions. For a long time the Kenyans had been using a translation of the liturgy in the Luo language (Luo is the common language in Bishop Koyo’s diocese). This liturgy offered two options for the Eucharistic Prayer. However no one told the Africans that they could choose just one, so each Sunday Mass involved a reading of both!Acolytes

The use of acolytes was also a welcome instruction. Several men were given detailed lessons on how and what to teach acolytes. As acolytes were instructed in the cathedral parish, what started with five young students became a class of almost fifty students, all clamoring for the chance to serve at the altar!

Personal Classes were held for Bishop Koyo and for his wife, Nelly, so that they could learn the things being taught to their men. The personal and parish life of the Diocese was profoundly changed during this trip. Bishop Koyo was very pleased with the improvements in his Diocese. The request of the observers from a neighboring Diocese to receive similar instruction was received and considered. It was decided to try and assist that Diocese on the next trip.

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