MERU 60200. KENYA
SUMMARY REPORT AS PRESENTED TO E.L.C.M
2ND TRIENNIAL GENERAL CONFERENCE HELD
AT FAITH EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN DUNCANSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA- USA
ON 15 17 JULY 2005.
BY. REV. BERNARD MUCUNKU KUGERIA
( The Acting synod president) 1. INTRODUCTION
2. HISTORY OF ELC MERU
3. ACHIEVEMENTS AND HOPES
First and foremost I want to register on my behave and the entire church in Meru Kenya our gratitude for being given this opportunity to attend this very important conference as a great honor despite the fact that we are not yet rostered members of ELCM, therefore we count this as great privilege for ELCM to extend their lovely welcome to us and more to commit themselves to care for our travel and upkeep during the conference.
We are very sad together with the entire church here that we are not able to be with you physically due to the fact that our traveling documents were not processed in time, BUT we want to assure members of this conference that no doubts the work of God through ELCM is now in Kenya and with a lot of future prospects. We want to bring our greetings and those of entire Christians in Kenya. All of us wish that this opportunity will mark a very promising beginning of our very strong relationship, and create a strong bond of working together as united church in the world today and tomorrow. When we learnt about our invitation to the conference by the evangelical Lutheran conference and ministerial president our brother Rev Dr Roy Steward we felt that we would wish this conference to knows something about the church in Kenya especially its History, achievements that it has seen, challenges that has come across and the way forward for its growth.
HISTORY OF MERU CHURCH
The Meru Evangelical Lutheran church was born in June year 2003 after a massive pullout of pastors from the Anglican church diocese of Meru after a questionable Bishop was consecrated and enthroned to the see of the Bishopric of the said diocese more than 15 ordained pastors and many lay readers resigned from working in this diocese. Some went to other dioceses others joined other Denominations like the Methodist and some of us settled to go for the Lutheran church.
A number of us went to the evangelical Lutheran church in Kenya where we presented our memorandum to the Bishop to join the church. We discussed with the bishop and his executives who were very excited to see eight pastors who were ready to join their church. He promised that he would use little time to consult the Archbishop of the church on the said matter since he was his personal friend. After consultation the Archbishop told him to take us if he wished since there is freedom of worship. Therefore we were called for a meeting and during this meeting we were given a schedule of our training which would take three months. The training was to be on Lutheranism i.e. History, catechism, Augsburg confession and church year calendar.
During our training our agreement was that after our training we would be immediately enrolled/posted as pastors of the ELCK with full benefits and stipend as the other pastors. This did not come true, after our training we were sent back to our area where we opened congregations in the name of the Lutheran church. During our training we leant many things about this ELCK. I Rev Bernard as the group leader although liked the doctrine of the ELCK which is similar to that of Missouri synod I was not comfortable with the fact that the ELCK do not accept the ordination of the women. This issue kept on disturbing me in the church as I was not convinced why women should be closed outside the work of God. As I was thinking about it a spirit came in my mind and said why dont you look from the internet probably there are other Lutheran churches with a different approach. It took me some days before I came across the most acceptable doctrines in my heart. And this was no other than the ELCM. The next thing was to write to the president Rev Dr Roy for inquiries. Thanks be to God the response that I got really showed that it was from the man of God. Just to quote from the first words of his first letter in reply of mine The peace and love of God be with you Bernard This was our beginning of our often communications with the president, and since that time we kept in touch often through email, the president advised us to fill the questionnaire posted in the web site for him and the executive to view and access our theological approach. After I forwarded my qquestionnaire I asked Rev Peter Kimwara to do the same which he did.
Going back to the church, when we began the congregations the Bishop asked one mission body in Kenya by the name Lutheran Heritage Foundation (lHF) a body of Missouri synod which deals with translation of Lutheran literature to support us in translation of the Lutheran liturgy to our local two languages Meru and Tharaka languages, at the same time giving us a monthly token for our upkeep with the promise that ELCK would take us very soon. Their soon went up to two years, we came to realize that this church was not able financially and that current they owe several millions of Kenya shillings as debts to several parties, but he could not be open to explain the situation to us.
Being aware of what ELCM was I had to go round visiting other pastors and congregations sharing with them about ELCM many were very willing but were somehow pessimistic due to the fact of ELCM being a tiny organization and said that they needed more time to see how we could work with it first. Rev Peter and I were optimistic together with our congregation and we agreed for ELCM.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND HOPES
Since our beginning time we have experienced a reasonable growth. We begun with only two congregations i.e. each of us one congregations but now we can count up to six congregations these are as follows:
1) Meru town church which has got 25 members
2) Marimanti church 30
3) Thanantu 60
4) Ngonya 20
5) Tunyai 25
6) Giumpini 25
We have got two other lay people who have been a great help to us in Evangelism. These are Mr. John Kubania and Mr. Julius Kamunju if trained they could also be great Pastors.
Therantu church and Meru town women have began women fellowship named Lutheran women league. They normally meet in some weekdays to pray for various issues, and also they have a program of where they each other at her home. They have begun an orphan support project. Known as Lutheran Orphan Aid Although the project is under the women harm they have invited membership from other Christians. They are very much willing to learn more from ELCM women especially from Barley and faith congregations.
ELFA wishes to see evangelism work extended to many other parts of Kenya as well as whole Africa in general, it is our feeling that the todays church needs another reformation as that of 15th century. Churches through church leaders have lost their spiritual dimension and have gone astray of the biblical teachings. Its our calling therefore to do something
We hope also to see a united church in the whole world under ELCM so that when we speak with one voice and that we can uplift one another where necessary in proclaiming the word of God. ELFA women hopes to establish a link with other ELCM women in order to facilitate coordination and uplifting one another in teaching on how they can become a better Lutheran women.
ELFA also wishes to see a real evangelical church in Africa through offering good catechism teaching and other Lutheran doctrinal teaching to our Christians and especially to our Sunday schools as they are the tomorrow church.
Being former Anglican Pastors we feel very inferior to the Lutheranism. We feel we need to be more trained so that we are able to defend the church doctrine against any negative forces that may challenge us. We need also to be more effective teachers of other Christians.
We need to feel enough and fully equipped even when we are before other Lutheran pastors or teachers. All our Christians have no Lutheran background, many are from other churches like Roman catholic, Pentecostal s, Methodists etc. to make a Lutheran church therefore we will require to do a lot of teaching to the Christians.
For any organization to work effectively there should be a central office of operation, by this we mean that we do not have an operating office for our proposed Kenyan synod where things could be operated smoothly from.
Our churches are far away scattered, and availability of means of transport especially on Sundays is very rare and some places non at all.
Only two congregations have bought their church plots, others are using rental facilities. To acquire some plots its expensive especially in towns, while as in rural areas the plots are not very expensive. On urban plot will go for about ksh 1000,000 =US dollar 15,000. And a rural plot will cost about ksh 60,000 to 100,000 = US dollars 1000-1500
Majority of our Christians are young people who are not yet in any employment; this has mad our income since the beginning of the church very minimal.
Last year the over all income for the synod was Ksh. 30,00 and the fund were used in developing the congregations, for example in paying some rents and church equipment and facilities. This year (2005) up to June from our own Christians we realized up to Ksh. 36,000 which has also been being used for the same purposes.
Our income only supports 20% of the required activities of the church, like Evangelism, running costs and other requirements of the church e.g. plots and education. We are preparing a five-year term plan for the church, through doing a case study of other developed churches here in Kenya. We are also preparing a budget for the year 2006. We will let you know and have a look at it when we are through.
It is the prayer of ELFA that ELCM takes it as its young one and tighten the bond so that at the long last ELFA the child of ELCM will be able to stand and walk by itself. In order for this dream to come true therefore we would wish the following:-
1) Our pastor to be well trained and equipped for the ministry.
2) ELCM should begin thinking of having a theological seminary in Africa; ELFA proposed a seminary in memory of the first ELCM president. i.e. Roy Steward theological seminary where we can offer various training to our Christians in Africa.
3) We need an office where coordination of the entire Kenya synod can be operated from. This means we will require a house and other office facilities like computers.
4) We would pray that ELCM through well wishers could promote the mobility of our executive officers proper mobility will promote evangelism, not only being effective but also that the name of the church just written at the vehicle will also make the church known and people will seek to know about it
5) ELFA is opening the door wide open for missionaries who feel that God is calling them to work in Africa. Our country is a peaceful country. Thou shall not fear, come and preach, teach and proclaim the word of God.
So far our church do not have any teaching material like catechism and liturgy in our own language. We recommend that ELCM can look for a liturgy organization that deals with translation of Lutheran literature and recommend us to them so that they could help in facilitating in translation of the necessary literature into our local languages where our teaching will be easier and well understood by all the people.
It is our prayer and request to this conference that they recommends ELFA to be a ELCM Synod and also propose a date when the two officers Rev Bernard and Peter can be interviewed for Rostering possibly late August or Early September 2005
Just to conclude, on behalf of ELFA I want to acknowledge with a lot of appreciation the donations that ELCM has sent as a mission support to ELFA in the recent time. It has been a great help to us especially on the mission and evangelism work and effort to buy one of the church plot. We would wish to assure this committee that ELFA is looking forward to extend in evangelism boundaries as far as God will give us strength, and we believe that by faith we will do wonderful work that God has commissioned us to do. AMEN.
The following are various committees members:
1. Synod Committee members:
1. Rev. Bernard Mucunku Kugeria Acting synod president.
2. Rev. Peter Kamwara - Acting Vice synod president
3. Mr. Job Kubania Synod Secretary general
4. Mr. Julius Kamuju Development organizer
5. Mr. Job Mwiti The Synod Treasurer
6. Mrs. Harriet Kariungi Women fellowship synod leader.
7. Albert Muthuri Chairman Sunday school synod
8. Mr. Daniel Kiangu Youth leader
9. Mr. Francis Mwindi Voluntary evangelist/Member.
10. Mr. Mark Kunyanga Voluntary evangelist/member
2. Lutheran Orphan Aid (L.O.A) Executive Committee.
1. Mrs. Harriet K. Mucunku- Chairperson.
2. Mr. Job Mwiti The Treasurer
3. Rev. Peter Kamwara The Secretary
4. Mr. Julius Kamuju Coordinator
5. Rev. Bernard M. Kugeria - The Patron
3. Lutheran Women League (Synod)
1. The chair lady Harriet K. Mucunku
2. Treasurer Mrs. Mary C. Mutegi
3. Secretary Mrs. Misheck Kiura.