Trip Three

Procession of Ordinans

Connection Kenya/Office of Foreign Missions: Trip Three, November-December 2005

Fr. Francis returned to Kenya in mid November 2005. The weather was oppressively hot and dry. Crops were drying up; animals were dying. Draught!

The trip began with a week of teaching in another church, River Nzoia South, under Bishop Obora. Five full days were spent teaching all the priests, deacons and key leaders of the church. Subjects taught included what had been taught the first two trips to the first church: The Basics of the Christian Faith; Introduction to Ordained Ministry; Use of the Book of Common Prayer; and Basics of Liturgy.

The men accepted most of the instruction, but were reluctant to move past what they had been taught before. They were very challenged by the Pentecostal dimensions of worship. The students in the other diocese had easily accepted such instruction, but there, significant relationship and trust had already developed between the teacher and the students. They trusted him. It was different in this second diocese. Relationship and trust had not yet developed.

Conditions in this new church hampered the instruction. The clergy were set in their ways. In addition, the decision in a legal case in the civil court had returned all of their church buildings to their former owners. The very viability of the church was in question. Attempts by Bishop Chunge and Bishop Koyo to help work though the troubled times met only with moderate success.

Classes in the first church went much better. The new subjects taught were Fundamentals of Sacred Scripture and Studies in Pastoral Ministry.

Fundamentals of Sacred Scripture taught the basics of the formation of the Canon of Scripture, the development of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the background information of the New Testament. Many of the class – the older men – were regular Scripture readers and found the class supporting of the things that they had read. The new men, who would become the leaders of the church of 2050, were just beginning to read Scripture and found the instruction to be eye opening!

The class on Studies in Pastoral Ministry greatly expanded the appreciation of the students for all that is included in being a pastor. It put to rest the last vestiges of the idea that being a pastor was merely a church job. One result of the class was a desire to understand more of the sacramental ministry of the church. That will be taught on the next trip.

This was the trip that saw the Africans accept the teacher most fully. They spent time teaching him about how and why their church was formed in the 1960s. They included the teacher in the burial rituals of their church and their tribe, which had formerly been very private. There were indigenous practices that were in place which had to be reconciled with Christian beliefs where possible. That was done as a collaborative project.

A young deacon had died of AIDS and the teacher assisted the Bishop in the funeral rites and ministry to the family. The teacher then ministered to the widow who is now HIV positive and who prayed to live long enough to care for her three young daughters.

The Africans learned the difference between tribal marriage and sacramental Blessing Marriages before Ordinationmatrimony. The Bishop decided that he would no longer ordain men whose marriages were not sacramental marriages so their was a rush to bless marriages prior to ordination.

During the months preceding this trip, Bishop Koyo and Fr. Francis had worked out a more meaningful ritual for ordination from the BCP which incorporated liturgy, sacred vows, Holy Chrism, litany of ordination (which was sung), and blessing of marriages. Several hundred worship books were prepared for an ordination service.

Almost five hundred people attended the ordination service of one new priest and three new deacons. The service was held under a large tent so that all could be accommodated. People talked about it and asked questions about it for weeks afterward. The Anglicans and Romans in attendance offered praise for what they had seen; their education in such subjects had been very meager. Such ordinations are very important to a church with thirty-seven parishes and eight functioning priests and eight functioning deacons.

On this trip, several good things were noticed. Many of the men had paper bookmarks in their BCPs, evidence of use in daily personal prayer and in corporate worship. Daily prayer had become a part of many of the student’s lives. Acolytes had been trained in several parishes. Incense was now used regularly at the Cathedral of St. Peter.

For the first time, there were now enough clergy shirts for every ordained man in the Diocese to have one, eliminating the need for swapping as appropriate. The flaming yellow clergy shirt owned by one of the men had been burned! For the first time, every ordained man had a Bible, an alb, a cincture, an appropriate stole, a Book of Common Prayer and a pectoral cross.

The men served in deepened faith, daily prayer, professionally dressed. Their ministry in their parishes had changed. Every man knew how to find the daily readings in their own copy of the BCP. The did not have all the proper colors in their vestments, but they now understood and taught the liturgical calendar, and the Sunday readings.

This Diocese has become a lighthouse for other churches in Kenya. Their current situation has improved greatly and they are preparing well for the church of the year 2050. All have realized that instruction has probably been given to at least the next two, maybe the next three bishops in their diocese.

Addition to CathedralLastly, on this trip, the American Women on a Mission worked hard and raised $2000.00 to support the orphans. Bishop Koyo has received that money and combined it with the money from his church to build a health clinic that will be staffed and supplied by the government of Kenya. Prior to this, there was no local health clinic and people died because treatment was not available to them.

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3 Comments

  1. Dave said,

    April 9, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Fr Francis, I just came across your blog while I was tag surfing through WordPress. What a blessing! It is good to see photos of the work you are doing in Kenya.

  2. April 9, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Dave. Please keep us in your prayers.

  3. ajane said,

    October 8, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    hello there! your work is very inspirational, its nice to see good people doing kind things for the less fortunate. I have a quick question i hope you can answer, i am doing a report on Missions Trips for my english lit. class, and i was wondering if i may use the some of the photographs from your blog of your trips to kenya. I also was wondering if you could possibly tell me who took the photographs so that i may give the credit to the correct person in my biblography/ credit page. Thank you so much and God Bless!

    -amanda jane


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