A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus said to her, “give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to him, “ How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jewish do not share things common with Samaritans).
I write this as a prayer in my own version and interpretation hoping that the story of the Samaritan woman with Jesus Christ at Well will bring healing to the divisions we have had for many years in the Orthodox Church here in Kenya.
Christ came to reconcile us to himself, to heal that which was broken or wounded, to bring to us peace, love and unity so that we may all be one as He is one with the Father (John 17:21). Christ came to break all the human created barriers between Him and His people so that through Him and in Him we may inherit the kingdom of God as His children.
When one studies the history of the Orthodox Church in Kenya, you will be surprised to find that there are serious historical challenges and developments that the church has experienced over the years and continues to be a thorn in the ecclesiastical spirit and mission of the church. Most people don’t understand, most people don’t know, that there are varieties (divisions) of orthodox churches in Kenya and each expresses their own super ecclesiastical authority either canonically or uncanonically . In other words we are not in communion with each other and this disturbs me a lot. I wish we were as many as we are but in communion. Because we are all Kenyans and Africans who are divided in their own house called Orthodox and at their own home called Kenya in Africa? How comes we have;
1.) Holy Archbishop of Kenya which acts like a church while it is registered as a company? Does is make sense??
2)We have; African Orthodox Church of Kenya registered as a Church under societies act of Kenya. Now this is the legal church, But they don’t have a bishop, their bishop is on borrowed lease from the company! How can a church lease a bishop from a company but still claim to be theirs? In a more serious note, they have a chairman and a secretary whom we seek their approval in order to get licenses to conduct sacraments like of marriage. I thought the head of the church in every jurisdiction is a bishop. Does this make sense?
3) We have;Genuine Orthodox Church… with full authority of a Bishop whether canonical or uncanonical- He claims a belongingness to African Orthodox Church because he is african and Kenyan all together! Talking from where I belong, He marshals spiritual respect from our clergy and faithful.
4) We have Mathewhites Orthodox Church exercising their full authority and expanding their mission work in Kenya and beyond. He is loved, respected as well.
5)We have; Old Calendarists situated in Embu- well established, though not in communion with us. Their bishop is from Canada! But they get all their licenses to conduct sacraments and operate as a church from african Orthodox Church because apart from being old calendarists etc, they claim their roots are in African Orthodox Church of Kenya. Actually they claim that they are the true african Orthodox Church. They have many clergy, a women monastery of over 2O nuns. Does this make sense either?
6) We have; Greek Orthodox Church in Kenya? This one seems to be at its loose end though it is mysteriously tied to Orthodox Archbishopric of Kenya. So it can’t die.
7) We have a new development; The Russian Orthodox Church in Kenya. It is taking root in Western and gradually making its ways everywhere. There are priests already developing an appetite of belonging to it and they are enjoying privileges already. Now this one is tricky because the Russian Orthodox Church is a canonical Church, we are in communion and well financed! Well they are aggressive and we might experience a more rigorous division because there seems to be a growing shift of the clergy who in the real sense find themselves belonging to nowhere anyway ! Does this make sense, may be not!
As a Kenyan hierarch of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa which I ascribe my canonical allegiance and obedience to,
find myself in an awkward position to belong to a church here in Kenya that has given birth to children that don’t have a father. Or to a church that has many children who have denied their father and mother because of family troubles in the family or misunderstandings.
I am deeply troubled to belong to a company and a church at the same time here in Kenya. For me to feel at home and make sense of my life,
I need to belong to one church;
AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF KENYA; UNDER ORTHODOX PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA!
I Pray that our brothers and sisters on the other side to agree to burry our differences whatever it was, whatever it is, and come together as one church! Let there be no more “Jews “ and “Samaritans” Genuine and non genuine orthodox! African and more african. We are all Africans and Kenyans for that matter.The Patriarch of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa THEODOROS II, has lamented about this divisions so many times and he has asked us to burry this divisions and form a unified church under the Patriachate of Alexandria! He has no problem as long as we don’t cut ties with our mother church- Alexandria where the throne of St Mark is enshrined.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Let us come together, let us have dialogue for our unity.
Jesus is waiting for us at the well and He says, “I wish you know what you are missing out of me”
It is time we get serious as Kenyans and as a Kenyan church. We have one thing in common to share and that is; our African Orthodox Church. She is the reason of our being as orthodox in Kenya.
Let us make sense of our divisions.
Now that you are here; I wish to let you know that there are many needy children under the care of St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School. please find it worth to make a one time or a monthly donation and help give basic needs and education to a needy child. click here to donate
In Christ service,
FR JM Kariuki