By Charles Raven, Evangelicals Now:

The Anglican Church of Kenya, which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent Province, is an interesting example. The current Archbishop and Primate, Jackson Ole Sapit, may not yet be as well known outside Kenya as some of his predecessors (such as David Gitari who was a prominent opponent of President Moi’s attempt to entrench one-party rule, and Eliud Wabukala, who was Chairman of GAFCON from 2011 to 2016), but he too is bringing courageous and creative leadership to the Anglican Church of Kenya.

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On 25 October, beginning a series of special services to mark the anniversary, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit warned against politicians using churches for party political purposes, saying: ‘We must guard the pulpit in the church so that, even if somebody comes to worship, then their space is in that pew.’

It is easy to overlook the significance of this. At consecrations and other special services, it is not unusual for local politicians to have more time than the preacher. They will of course make a generous financial gift. So to challenge this established practice requires courage, especially now that the Covid pandemic has put church finances under strain.

But this is an Archbishop who has already demonstrated steel. In 2018 he called on the Kenyan Government to resist Western pressure to legalise same-sex marriage. Then in January 2020, following a hastily arranged appeal to the Kenyan House of Bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he confirmed that he would not be attending Lambeth 2020. Like other Primates, he had been subjected to a relentless charm offensive from Lambeth Palace but, unlike some, he held firm.

Along with courage, there is creativity too. In August last year, the Archbishop hosted and organised a Provincial clergy conference taking the theme ‘A Wholesome Ministry for a Wholesome Nation’. Leaders of the GAFCON Global Mission partnership network were present and became instrumental in the launch of Anglican Missions Africa (AMA), a new mission initiative to carry forward the vision of the conference throughout Africa under the Archbishop’s spiritual oversight.

Led by its Director, The Revd Canon Richard Mayabi, the work has already spread beyond East Africa to Mozambique and Ghana despite the pandemic. Over 600 church leaders have been through the AMA’s Healthy Church training programme and 35 new churches have been planted using the Jesus Film and tents donated internationally. Future plans include showing the Jesus Film in every secondary school in Kenya.

Healthy Church is an interesting concept. Underlying health becomes more evident under stress. The combination of sound doctrine and sound leadership seen in Kenya enables the church to grow and maintain a confident witness. Here at home we can only look and long.

Read in Evangelicals Now here