Executive Committee Tribute to Canon Karanja
September 23, 2019
A RECOGNITION FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
THE REVEREND CANON PETER KARANJA
GENERAL SECRETARY OF NCCK 2007 – 2019
On 13th September 2007, the National Council of Churches of Kenya with joy and gratitude to God welcomed Reverend Canon Peter Karanja as her 12th General Secretary. We are here today, once again filled with joy and gratitude to God, as we bid farewell to one who has served us faithfully for twelve years.
In the Bible, the 33rd Chapter of the book of Numbers is one that does not make sense to many people. I doubt you have heard any sermons based on those 56 verses. Despite that, Numbers 33 is very important in the eyes of God, for indeed God directed Moses to write it down. The reason is that Numbers 33 is a series of names of places where the Israelites moved to during their 40-year journey from Egypt to Canaan. Those names don’t have a meaning for us, but for those who participated in that journey, each of those 50 places held a significance in their memories.
To celebrate the time we have shared with Reverend Canon Peter Karanja, we will in a brief way highlight the milestones we have achieved in the last twelve years.
Canon Karanja joined when the country was gearing up for the fourth General Elections since restoration of multi party politics in 1992. Competition for the presidential post was high, with ethnically divisive campaigns orchestrated by the different actors. The Council had warned that the potential for violence during the elections was very high due to polarization arising from the fallout between President Mwai Kibaki and the then Minister for Roads, Hon Raila Odinga. Canon Karanja essentially received a baptism of fire as he was embroiled in massive coordination to put together a team to monitor and observe the elections. In less than 100 days, the country exploded into an orgy of violence never before witnessed by our people. Canon Karanja took this in his stride and brought together the leaders of other faith bodies to establish the Inter Religious Forum as a special purpose vessel to respond to the violence. The Council, through the Inter Religious Forum, was the first body to recommend and give rationales for the formation of a coalition government to the international mediation panel led by the late His Excellency Dr Koffi Annan. Thereafter, the Forum commissioned a study that resulted in the publication of the book titled “The Causes and Implications of the Post Election Violence”.
Internally, it was under the leadership of Canon Karanja that we in the NCCK organized a Christian Conference, during which we apologized to the nation for the role any of us played in the violence. This act of humility is remembered by Kenya to this day, and actually propelled the Council to the high pedestal for advocacy we have occupied over the last decade.
The Council appreciates the courage and determination Canon Karanja expressed when he personally facilitated numerous intra and inter ethnic dialogue forums in the Rift Valley. It was a difficult undertaking requiring that community leaders from each of the communities that had conflicted in 2007 were brought together to identify the grievances they had against other communities. These grievances were then shared with the leaders from those other communities, in sessions that at the beginning were tense and carried the risk of violence. But we thank God that the programme was a success, and to this day there has not been any other episodes of widespread inter-ethnic violence. The violence witnessed after the 2017 elections was between political party supporters and security agencies, not between tribes. We thank God for the contribution NCCK has made to the peace in our nation.
A key contribution by the Council during this period was the collection of 1 million signatures to support our petition to the International Court of Justice for investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of the post election violence.
It is these engagements that informed the development of the Council’s 5th Corporate Plan (2009 – 2013), whose theme was Better Together.
The advocacy by the Council for a new constitution for the nation, which spanned nearly three decades, came to a climax in 2009 when the constitution review process was put in motion. In early 2010, this Executive Committee was the first national body to caution Kenyans that the draft constitution developed by the Committee of Experts posed some risks to the nation. This led to the nationwide campaign asking Kenyans to vote NO during the referendum, which was led by the Council and other faith orgazations. Saying No to an initiative driven by the main political formations in the country required courage and resilience, which the Council exhibited under the leadership of Canon Karanja. We appreciate that after the referendum, Canon Karanja led us in respecting the choice of Kenyans and committing to support implementation of the supreme law of the land.
Thereafter, the Council partnered with other organization to organize civic education programmes in the lead up to the 2013 General Elections. At the same time, the other programme work envisaged under the Corporate Plan were implemented, touching and transforming the lives of many Kenyans.
Another key project that impact the lives of our churches is the Church and Community Mobilisation Process (CCMP), which sought to empower churches and community to analyze their situations and take full responsibility for transforming their lives. The project was adopted by 8 of our member churches, and grew to cover more than 200 congregations. The congregations were trained on leadership development, resource mobilization, and were equipped with knowledge and skills on how to facilitate their churches to identify and harness resources. Remarkably, congregations that adopted CCMP witnessed increases of up to 160% in tithes and offerings. Churches are now able to take care of their ministers and meet other church budgets which previously were a challenge.
Internally, it was during this period that we had our Centenary Celebrations, marking 100 years since formation of the Council in 1913. The theme of the Centenary Celebrations was “Shining the Light of Christ”, which was to be adopted as the theme for the 6th Corporate Plan (2014 – 2018). Following the adoption of devolution in the nation during the 2013 elections, the 6th Corporate Plan was the first one to have specific strategies for working with counties. It is notable that the Council had way back in 2012 adapted to devolution and had rebranded our governance organ previously called District Coordinating Committees to be called County Coordinating Committees.
The one constant engagement we have had under the leadership of Canon Karanja and which will always be remembered was the unrelenting war against corruption. Every time the Council, especially this Executive Committee, has spoken, corruption has been an issue we have raised with the government. It is regrettably a war we must continue to fight since the leadership at the national level seems lethargic about it.
Besides the Corporate Plans and the programmatic engagements, we in the Executive Committee of the NCCK appreciate the inspiration for the Council to make further investments for sustainability.
The notable ventures in this regard include the progressive transformation of SMEP from a small and micro enterprise programme, to a Deposit Taking Microfinance, and now a Microfinance Bank regulated by Central Bank of Kenya. We continue to encourage churches to buy shares in SMEP, knowing that in the coming days it will be leading financial services provider and purchase of shares will be harder then.
The Executive Committee appreciates the investment we have made through the Jumuia Hospitals, and we assure you will give full support to the incoming General Secretary to ensure these ventures are a success.
Operationally, we appreciate that the management and administration of the Council were enhanced, enabling the Council operate within the constitutional and legal requirements. These have resulted in the enhancement of the Council, with the staff complement growing from just under 200 in 2007 to 585 today. During the same period, the income of the Council has grown tremendously, from KShs 321 million in 2007 to KShs 1.03 billion in 2018. The non current assets grew from KShs 985 in 2007 to KShs 5.03 billion in 2018. This growth is not casual, and took great effort on the part of staff and the governance organs. We thank God.
Canon Karanja, it is not possible at this point to list all the things we have accomplished together. Be sure that we will always remember you for every one of them. It is our prayer that God will always bless you and the work of your hands, so that all you do shall be to the glory of the Kingdom of God.
Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki
Chairman of the National Council of Churches of Kenya
On behalf of the Executive Committee