VISION, THE HEART OF LEADERSHIP

ADDRESS BY

 REV CANON PETER KARANJA

GENERAL SECRETARY, NCCK

 DURING THE NCCK CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS CONFERENCE COMMEMORATING NCCK’S 100 YEARS

 ON

 21ST AUGUST 2013

 HELD AT KABARAK UNIVERSITY, NAKURU COUNTY

 

Your Excellency the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, Hon William Ruto

Retired President, Hon Daniel T. Arap Moi

Hon. Governor of Nakuru County, Hon Kinuthia Mbugua

Chairperson of the Council

Church Leaders from all over the country

Members of staff

Distinguished

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am greatly honoured to welcome you to this Centenary Celebrations Conference in which we climax the commemoration of 100 years since the establishment of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. We are grateful that you found time to join us today despite your busy schedule. We are especially grateful to His Excellency the Deputy President for accepting to be our chief guest today.

As we reflect on the last one hundred years, our Executive Committee settled on the theme “Shining the Light of Christ”, drawing from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 5: 14 – 16.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.”

This Conference is a culmination of events and ceremonies we have held over the last eight months across the country. I take this chance to thank all those who participated in those events, trusting that the experience has been rewarding to you as it has been to me.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

Way back in 1907, missionaries working in the Kavirondo area met at Vihiga and later held another meeting at Maseno in 1908 to discuss how to deal with purely local and practical difficulties such as unification of local dialects so as to have the same method of spelling and the same names for God. Yet, in the midst of addressing local issues, the participants in that meeting got a vision, a revelation, and they passed a unanimous resolution that read

“This Conference regards the development, organization, and establishment of a united, self-governing, self-supporting, and self-extending native church as the ideal of our missionary work”.

This was true vision. The missionaries saw beyond themselves and embraced the continuation of their work to a time when they would no longer be around. They foresaw that the local people would embrace the gospel and grow into a a formidable church that would be sustainable.

Five years after that Maseno meeting, in 1913, missionaries from all over the country met at Thogoto, Kikuyu. This time, the vision was reviewed and a decision was made to establish the Federation of Missions through which the missionaries would consolidate their efforts. At the end of that meeting, four missionary organizations signed the constitution of the Federation, which marked the beginning of formal ecumenism in Kenya. The four Societies which signed the constitution were Church Missionary Society (Today’s ACK), Church of Scotland Mission (Todays PCEA), United Methodist Mission (Methodist Church in Kenya), and Africa Inland Mission (The Africa Inland Church).

And so on 17th June 1913, the National Council of Churches of Kenya was born.

Propelled by the vision of having a united church in Kenya, missionary societies persistently worked to maintain fellowship within the framework of ecumenism. They overcame internal differences that arose with regard to doctrine, approach to work and church discipline by focusing on the vision they had of bringing the churches into fellowship with one another as each of them carried out their mission.

By regularly reviewing the status of their fellowship and the extent to which they had achieved the vision, the members of the NCCK routinely changed the nature and name of their fellowship but retained the vision and the ethos.

It is for this reason that the name of the organization was changed to Alliance of Protestant Missions in 1918; Kenya Missionary Council in 1924; Christian Council of Kenya in 1943; National Christian Council of Kenya in 1966 and National Council of Churches of Kenya in 1984.

Our history, brothers and sisters, is a story of pursuit of a vision. I invite you to read more about it in the book provided to you titled “A Century of Ecumenism and Mission: The Story of the National Council of Churches of Kenya”.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

In the last one hundred years, the NCCK has achieved a lot. I wish to highlight some of the key achievements:

One, we have spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the point where 80 per cent of Kenyans profess the Christian faith.

Two, more than 64 per cent of the education institutions were started and built by churches. It is also notable that the leading schools in Kenya were founded by the churches.

Three, more than half of the health facilities in Kenya were established and are run by churches.

Four, the NCCK pioneered the Village Polytechnics concept, the Cottage Industries that grew to become the Jua Kali industry, and initiated Rural Training Centers to promote modern agricultural practices.

Five, the Council initiated provision of credit facilities to the poor, which led to the founding of church owned micro finance institutions such as SMEP Deposit Taking Microfinance Limited, ECLOF Kenya among others.

Six, we have been a champion of peace, healing and reconciliation efforts in pre and post independence periods in Kenya.

Seven, the Council spearheaded the search for a new constitution for Kenya from the 1980s

Eight, NCCK has promoted the stability of the family unit through extensive Family Life Education.

Nine, for over 30 years, the Council has been the only national agency providing services to refugees in urban areas and refugee camps.

Ten, the NCCK in partnership with the Catholic Church have been the leading providers of civic education and domestic elections monitoring.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

Having reflected on this rich heritage of the Council, allow me to now cast the vision for the future.

The future, as we see it, is a Kenya in which the church is united in faith and in witness to Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters, is holistic. It is a gospel that nourishes the body, the soul and the spirit of the people.

Appreciating this, the NCCK and other churches and Christian organizations met in May 2011 during the National Christian Conference where the vision of the church in Kenya was clarified. That Conference came up with “Vision 2060” which identified four pillars of the Christian Engagement.

The first pillar is Spiritual Development, in which the church must embrace effective ministry through evangelism, discipleship and sound church management.

The second pillar is provision of Education, in which we committed the church committed to provision of quality, relevant, and value based education for all Kenyans. It is in this regard that the NCCK has initiated plans to build private schools of its own through the Jumuia Schools brand, which will be based on a comprehensive curriculum that will produce well rounded citizens with a heart to serve their fellow men.

The third pillar is Economic Empowerment, which is a call to wealth creation and food security. Our commitment is to promote productivity and optimization of resources.

The fourth pillar is Governance and Social Political Processes, where we committed to engage in the national and county governance of the nation, and to support the full implementation of the new constitution and follow through the amendments necessary for promotion of justice for all Kenyans.

These, brothers and sisters, are the pillars that will enable us to achieve the church vision.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

The achievement of this vision is dependent on the Council having resources over the course of the next hundred years. The Council is therefore continuing with its quest for financial sustainability by undertaking a number of projects. These include the Jumuia Resorts, which is a chain of Christian based hospitality facilities; Management of rent generating properties; and an ocean-front development at Kanamai.

Strategically, the Council continues to consultatively develop Corporate Plans that guide its programmatic engagements. In this, I wish to highlight one area of key concern.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

For the last one hundred years NCCK was established, we have endeavored to promote the growth of the nationhood of Kenya. To us, nationhood implies the integration of ethnic communities into one nation. In this process, the Council has found that there are three obstacles that hinder the progress towards nationhood. These are Tribalism, Corruption and Impunity.

It is regrettable that after all these years, Kenya is today strong as a state but weak as a nation. The nation is divided along ethnic and socio-economic lines. Each ethnic community is seeking to pursue its self interests to the exclusion of others. On their part, the elite exploit resources and opportunities at the expense of everyone else.

We believe that this status must be changed.

In our endeavors to resolve this problem, we have found that the “zero-sum winner takes all” approach to life needs to be changed to a “win-win” ethos. In this approach, Kenyans must realize that cooperation, even with former foes, must not be an abstract idea but be based on enlightened self interests. These self interests have to be identified and clarified in intra and inter ethnic consultations, whose goal is to facilitate the communities to agree to live with each other.

The Council has been implementing a programme in which we are bringing together communities for consultation. We began with intra-ethnic meetings where each of the communities that have violently conflicted in the past were facilitated to identify their historical grievances against their neighbours as well as their proposed solutions. The communities then were brought together and they discussed these issues and charted the way forward. We are convinced this is what catalysed the peaceful environment during the elections earlier this year. Our vision in all this is that Kenya will be a country where communities live together by agreement and not by decree.

I commend this model to the government to follow and expand to the rest of the country.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests

I once again thank you for joining us today. I especially thank the leadership of the Council, that is the General Assembly, the Executive Committee, the Programme Committee, Membership Committee and the Finance and Administration Committee; and all our staff members and partners, for the role each of us have played in making the National Council of Churches of Kenya what it is today. Let us carry this vision till we pass it on to the next generation.

And now, Your Excellency, it is my singular honour on behalf of the National Council of Churches of Kenya to welcome you to address us.

Thank you.