Bishop Kodia's Charge at the 2017 Synod

 

Anglican Church of Kenya

ACK Diocese of Bondo

Christ centered Peace : A bridge to wholeness

 

Romans 5:1-21

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  1. PREAMBLE

To all of you peace and grace of God. I feel privileged to stand before you as your servant whom the Lord has given the burden to take you across to the implementation stage of our vision for this diocese. My election as your bishop cannot be mistaken with promotion or elevation to a higher officer. However, in as much as all these could be true from their own perspectives, we would like to emphasize on the burden of responsibility that accompanies such appointments. It is something we can avoid when the voice of God calls. Our paramount obligation is to remain in a state of alert lest we are called at odd times with all the inconveniences notwithstanding. We want to remain your servant in the like manner of our Lord Jesus Christ who had to wash every dirt from the feet of his disciples. Yes, there comes a time when we lose the capacity and zeal to wash our own dirt and it is the Servant, the Lord of holiness that would take the dirt from us. As we begin a new era of our administration, we want to thank God for walking with us for the last 17 years of our predecessors investiture. I want to echoe what Dr. Ochanda told me recently. During our telephone conversation, the bondo MP told me that “ Bishop we pity you. You were elected at a wrong time when most of your friends in sulked into political mud.” In as much as what he said could be true, our assertion is that this is the right time for us to show leadership as a church, we had to prove to the rest that elections don’t have to be violent oriented. However much we different from each other, we still have one diocese to care for, one gospel to preach, and one Christ to follow. We want to salute all of you who prayed for the smooth transition. We also want to express our gratitude to the previous administration of our predecessor Bishop Johannes Angela for the foundation it had laid on which we are now called upon to build.

This synod is called to deliberate on various issues touching on the life of the diocese. Our main focus is not to duplicate issues which were discussed during the previous ordinary session of synod but to establish mechanisms of implementing them. But this would require a strategic thinking revolving around our strategic plan and vision. We are called at a time that our effort to break even in our financial obligations is thwarted by shear reluctance and shift of priorities. We had been going through the minutes of the previous synods but what shocks us most is the number of resolutions which are yet to be implemented. Some have long been forgotten and overtaken by events. Synod meets only once in three years and it would be a great test of our faith if we could make resolutions which do not resonate with our capacity and will power to implement. I have gone through the diocesan constitution and keenly observe our administrative structure vis-a-vi  their relevance in addressing cogent issues of common concern. I have a clear observation of what direction we must take if we were to realise christ centered peace as a bridge to wholeness. The following questions lindered our mind as we give a deeper reflection of the diocese we want vis-a-vi the diocese we have.

  1. What is the relevance of a blotted staff in a diocese that is financially in ICU?
  2. What cadre of staff do we need that would understand our dreams and vision and help us pass through the bridge into wholeness
  3. What should be our priority programs which we can follow systematically as we embrace the concept of wholeness?
  4. What are our identifiable iniqueness that we can joyously cellebrate and promote?
  5. What value do we add to the larger dream of making the diocese a self, propagating, self sustaining and self actualizing entity?

4.1       Promoting Holistic Evangelism and Mission

This is our agenda number one. The Main mission of the church is all about reaching out to the world with the holistic Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, the Church must move out of its comfort zone, and reach out to the poor and outcast, sharing their concerns, identifying with their suffering, and meeting their needs.

We should be found praying with and accompanying the sick in our dispensaries and health centres. The church must interact with the people in the pews. It must become a “church for others”, a church that empowers the marginalized. Our  concept of the church is that it must become a community of and for all where all segments of society come together within the framework of a common life and decision-making, where the voices of women are heard, the youth will not just be invited to carry forms and make food for visitors, but that they will participate actively in worship.

Our  goal is to strengthen “ cell groups” as centres of holistic mission. These are Centres of innovation. These are safe places where persons Living with HIV and AIDS find solace. They express themselves freely. We must challenge inaction and misaction, from the part of our church leadership on matters of HIV and AIDS. Its time to go on our knees and confess that we have discriminated against many people in our midst who are HIV positive. We have condemned them to death.

The Church should be ready to bring healing and reconciliation to the broken humanity and creation. The church should transform the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. The church is mandated to exercise its responsible stewardship over the creation. It is clear that a divided church cannot have a credible witness in a broken world. “The church can no longer stay inside the “fortress” as a self-contained reality; it must interact with its environment. The church cannot transform the world from inside the walls. It must reach out, become and remain a missionary church”[1]. To this end, we shall work hand in hand with para church organisations to realize our goal. These will include and not limited to Scripture Union, Nyanza Evangelistic Team, the NCCK in this Region; Life Ministry; Trinity Fellowship; Tukutendereza/Revival brethren. We cherish with great delight the role that you are all playing and we cannot go it alone. We need your company as we press on infecting everyone with the good news. Evangelism is all about good news, what then would be good news to the sick, other than healing, the corrupt officer other than repentance and forgiveness, the hungry other than plenty? Good news must be manifested in the reality of living acceptable not only by human standard but also by divine providence.

Essentially the church must never feel that they have arrived. We must be men and women who are on a pilgrimage. This experience must dominate our thinking and agenda, so that we don’t become complacent and live as if Christ is not coming back again.Evangelism is the heartbeat of our calling to the ministry. We want to challenge all the key actors including the Ecumenical Family to live up to her expectation and make evangelism a critical component of their  programs. It is through evangelistic enterprise that we reach out to the world. Our focus for the first five years of my episcopacy will be to strengthen our web of evangelism by promoting inter-parishes missions, partnership in missions and retraining our evangelists and clergy to cope with the changing needs of our time. Our motto will be “ fill the church” for Christ.  The realization that our pews are almost virtually vacant due to Low Church attendance is a cause for rapid intervention. This would require adopting new models for evangelism, resource mobilization, and strengthening of current outfits –children ministry, youth ministry, mothers union, KAMA just to mention a few.

Our vision for our youth is to seek to disarm them from the struggles of underemployment, drug abuse, and addiction to negative social media. We therefore seek to rearm them with the Gospel that will enable them to rediscover their noble role on society. Youth, you are special before God. Take your rightful positions and don’t feel intimidated

  • Cultivating the Entrepreneurship Spirit

This is our agenda number two. Experience has taught us that any drive to social action that is not anchored in an enduring entrepreneurial spirit will not last. Our Country today has not arrived. We are still struggling with basic realities of life.

Entrepreneurial spirit and church growth

The church has been one of the vehicles for social transformation and her pivotal role in this regard cannot be underestimated. For so many years now, people had been looking forward to the church, to ‘’say something or do something ‘’ about the woes bedeviling society. This perception is not unwarranted to say the least more so as it reinforces the confidence people have in the church as a voice for change.  The inherent concept of the church as a body of Christian believers cannot be limited to mere propaganda machine, whose intention is to use the most persuasive language to convert the entire nation. The most feasible and plausible undertaking is simply to underscore the need to remain relevant at all times, thus being a good Samaritan to others. The role of the church in this regard is fundamentally obligatory and would at all times be triggered by environmental factors such as poverty and diseases, injustices,  iliteracy and irreligious behaviours.  As a diocese, our mandate and sense of vision for society is propelled by the need to preach a holistic message that is transformative, thus changing our state of poverty into abundance, ignorance into knowledge and misery into eternal joy.

Effectiveness of church’s voice

21st C is characterized by myriad issues emanating from social disintegration. We are in a society whose social fabric has been eroded by moral lapses, economic woes, spiritual poverty and modernity. The voice of the church, in the midst of all these must be audible enough for it to cause effect. In the midst of total confusion, where numerous voices of conflicts mingle together and press down on us, the voice of the church must distinguish itself as the sole carrier of transformative message.

We want to avail ourselves to support our leaders in every way acceptable in correcting the ills in our society. We will avail ourselves to support every effort that would ensure that principles of democracy and good governance are upheld in our land. We will avail ourselves  to the side of the marginalized, the victims of corrupt deals, the people who are segregated because of their ethnic orientation, religious affiliation, political persuasion or social status. We will avail ourselves  to the service of humanity at a time when we are experiencing divisions and hatred in our land. This to me is the Spirit of Pentecost, a spirit that drives us to go an extra mile to share the little we have. Beloved, the reality is that there is enough for all and this Country should not be hungry.

All of us will appreciate that responsible leadership is what we all aspire for. With it we can go places as a Diocese and of course as a Nation. We want to urge all our clergy and laity leadership to embrace moral values as we witness in our respective lines of ministry. we have had cases of moral lapses leading to erotion of confidence the people have in us. Moral lapses have dented our image as a church and left us melodramatic in matters of spirituality and evangelism. Our clarion call is to seek the face of God with renewed stamina.

We must castigate the spirit of materialism which is the driving factor behind the messes we are facing as a nation. Corruption will never make us great neither will it reward us with dignity. Corruption, corruption, corruption is all evil. It is a crime against humanity. It is a sin against God and his people. Whoever ascends to any position of leadership through corruption is evil, and is a candidate for God’s grace through repentance and forgiveness. Time has come for the people of Kenya to weigh all options possible to ensure that any corrupt leader is either rejected or socially mutilated. How best would it be for such a person to heed to the gospel of Christ.

Our   Vision for the DIOCESE  will be rooted in the Anglican Church of Kenya 10 year Theme of “ A Wholesome Ministry for a Wholesome Nation” . The Theme is planned to guide our Church with clear strategic direction in the period 2017-2026. Indeed, the Strategy is aimed at strategically focusing our Church for better results through creative mobilization and use of resources. This Theme is deeply rooted in our role as stewards of God’s resources

It is our prayer and wish that we identify ourselves with the right side of history and adhere to the principles of the Great Commission: making discipleship of all the nations, preaching and teaching everything that the Lord had commanded us. These three thronged approach will build our confidence and faith in God who calls, sends, and sustains.

Our fellow Christians, we want to share with you our four key areas of focus in implementing our vision for this diocese and the nation as a whole. Our vision for the ACK Diocese of Bondo is to work towards seeing communities of believers who live life in abundance, in harmony with one another, and reconciled to their Creator. This vision is driven by the reality of Pentecost which brings a new dawn for all of us, young and the older in age. Our aspiration is to see faith communities where both the young and the elderly have mutual respect for one another. At Pentecost, God by His own design brought the spirit of understanding and bonding among humanity irrespective of their diversity. They could understand each other’s language with awe and reverence because they had given their life to One Lord Jesus Christ. The very moment Kenyans would realize the sanctity of such a submission, ethnicity would cease to be a barrier to national cohesion. It is a vision that is deeply rooted in values that last. These are values that teach us that we can share, care and bear one another’s’ burden

Our economy remained resilient in the face of one of the worst droughts witnessed in the last quarter of 2016. As many of us are aware, this growth was largely driven by ongoing public infrastructure development, e.g. roads construction; tourism which had a remarkable improvement as it benefitted from improved security with the number of international visitor arrival expanding by 13.5 per cent in 2016 to 1.34 million;

Poverty is still real and biting and the reported growth is yet to be translated into food on the table for the majority of our people. Poverty remains real and growth is very much urban driven. Our critical dependence on rain fed agriculture at a time when weather has remain unpredictable, is not helping either. Today we are witnessing growing unemployment and underemployment of our youth. Many who have had chance to access University education come home very distressed.

The Pentecost experience does demonstrate how the early church used its entrepreneurship spirit to reach out to many with the whole some Gospel. For a church to gain her position as the embodiment of holistic gospel, she has to live to her expectation as the epicenter of God’s gracious gifts to man. The church must present herself as the bread to the world, the living water, the fullness of God’s grace, the arena for social justice and moral excellence. For these to be realized to their fullness, my episcopacy will embrace the culture of creative thinking and action oriented economic activities. Our major role in the field of entrepreneurship is to ensure that our people are fully engaged in the economic life of our nation. Addressing employment among the youth, and sound policies to ensure that no one gets to sleep with empty stomach, and no one sleeps on the street. We must engage our Christians in viable economic activities that would help to restore their human dignity. We  don’t believe in perpetuating the culture of laziness. Our policy will be to enhance the quality of life of our Christians and it is in doing so that we shall be able to shun the begging culture that dehumanizes us as a people.

We will in this endeavour embrace partnerships with likeminded groups of people, county government and other agencies both civil and governmental to ensure that we exploit every potential in this region that would help us to address the menace of poverty and helplessness.  It is such a deplorable economic situation that has led our people into captivity and embracing political opportunism without respite. The ghost of poverty must be exorcized and dignity of every person, be respected even during electioneering. The spirit of materialism is evil. Families and friends go for each other’s throat during election and would do every dirty trick in the book to win the election. We have recently witnessed funny miracles where candidates with low figures are declared winners. The deciding factor is not the peoples will but how close the candidate either is to the power barons or how much they are ready to contribute to the sacred coffer of egoism. Today, we are not short of innovative programs.

Synod Plaza

In order to live to the realism of our gospel, our major undertaking in this endeavour will be the completion of the Synod Plaza. We want to thank all Christians and well wishers who have so far not given up on the reality of this economic project as the nerve center of our economic activity as a church. We want to thank our predecessor Bishop Johannes for spearheading the course of this project under very tough conditions. I wish therefore to brief you on the current state of affair rergading the plaza. Our new administration has decided to engage the Church Commissioner for kenya to facilitate the funding for the project. Negotiations are alrready going on to that effect. There was a company that was created to take custody  of the facility and other related assets on behalf of the diocese. The directorship of the company comprized the following:

  1. Bishop Johaness angela
  2. Mr Walter korege
  3. Mr James Aremo
  4. James A Obado Adera
  5. George Omil Nyunja

After consultation with our diocesan chancellor, it became clear to us that the Bondo Development Services company’s operations stand suspended untill all legal and practical aspects of its engagements are fully utilized  and viable. From the look of things, the members as registered does not present the face of the diocese and thus curtails the right to fair representation. Our proposal is that we engage a building committee with members drawn from our four regional communities of Sakwa, Asembo, Yimbo and Uyoma. The function of the committee shall be limited to :

  1. Resource mobilization for the compleletion of the project
  2. Supervisory role of the construction work
  3. Marketing for tenancy
  4. Establishing or help to establish cretaria, regulations, composition of terms and conditions for a management wing that will be responsible for the daily operation of the facility

 

Our appeal to you is to get prepared for our next invitation to raise funds to complete the project within the shortest and most convenient time possible. As our guests during this occasion, we humbly request you to journey with us as we mobilize funds for the Plaza. For those who had contributed even one coin, we want to assure you that it had a positive mark. To you who are seated here we urge you to make a contribution towards this project through the following pay bill……………….

Allow us to laud the efforts that are underway by some of our esteemed institutions. The Early Childhood Education Program hosted by Maranda High School has been an eye opener to many of our teachers. The Maranda School for the Differently abled has continued to play a key role. Allow us at this stage to laud the efforts being played by our Institutions of Higher Learning in creating supportive climate for innovation. Well done JOOST and we look up to you as a centre for innovation. GLUK with is close to 15 years of innovation in community health has been an envy of many. We shall not forget to ensure our availability to support our sponsored schools that continue to make us proud. Schools like Maranda, Nyamira, Ramba,Chianda stand out. Well done.

 

  • Return to our Moral values

This is our agenda number three. Allow us to restate that we can go along way as a diocese if we espouse values that are progressive. These values of integrity are often taken for granted. Our dear brothers and sisters. We must shun the culture of getting rich quick. This culture encourages corrupt practices and destroys our rich heritage of sharing together. Beloved brothers and sisters, my conviction is that there is enough for all, but the reality is that some of us today think that we can eat two plates of Ugali. We can’t. Let us develop an attitude of sharing with those who don’t have.

 

Countering corrupt practices, must start with us as a church. Indeed, we cannot just point figures at the National and County Governments when our house is not in order. At the basic level, we shall ensure that all parishes and congregations appoint men and women of proven integrity and commitment to their PCCs and the forth coming synod. Funds collected should be accounted for and those who steal church money will be apprehended. We want to encourage a culture of financial humility and seek to live within our means. Out living must be modest and reflect our faith. We intend to enforce the culture of honesty wherever my powers lie as your bishop to the extent that every Christian will have to give an account of his time, and responsibility he/she is given. To our county and national leaderships, we want to urge you to address corruption and impunity that is reigning in our land today. Expose those who are involved in malpractices and punish them. We will be available to give our support to His Grace the former Archbishop Wabukala in his crusade against the vice. But please as we do so let no one dare to threaten us. There will be dire consequence for that.

 

4.4 Capacity Development of our Clergy and Laity

Clergy development will remain key in our agenda. From our experience as an educationist, we shall expose our clergy to innovative ways of ministry. These will include enabling them to be lawyers, doctors, administrators, teachers, community counselors, artists, musicians and others. Years when clergy development were focused on being posted in a parish are now gone. All clergy should be ready and willing to work even in government offices. When we give them opportunities for training, we don’t necessarily tie our hands to offer employment. Today, we have a majority of our priests and laity who do so much with very little experience and training. It is our priority to ensure that we capacity build and equip our clergy and laity for ministry. Institutions like CORAT Africa, Bishop Okullu Theological College will remain relevant to us in meeting our objectives. We shall endeavour to make chaplaincy services institutionalized in all our institutions of learning through collaborative effort with respective managements.

 

We also want to invest institutional capacity of our laity as a whole in governance structure, policies and systems strengthening. Our Parishes will remain centres of action and the laity will need constant exposure to new and creative ideas. To attain this objective we shall invest in ensuring that our leaders are trained in good corporate governance, which is deeply rooted in Scripture. The younger women and mothers in our midst, rest assured that you will not be left behind at all. You are the backbone of our communities and we shall do our best to build your capacity to support yourselves and family. Part of clergy development will involve coaching support, targeting our younger clergy who still struggle with basic understanding of ministry realities. We shall ensure that the senior citizens in our midst are used to participate in coaching and mentoring others into leadership. We however wish to caution that all this should take cognizance of the fact that transformative change must enable us to embrace new ideas some of which will come from your youth. Lets us accept and build them up for ministry.

 

  • Stewardship for sustainability

Beyond the Synod Project, we would like to encourage Parishes to cultivate the culture of giving to enable us come up with programs that will sustain our Ministry. To this end, we laud the efforts of CCK in encouraging investment culture within our Dioceses. We shall cooperate with them to ensure that we benefit from their professional guidance. In closing allow me to tell a story of a visiting preacher who was really getting the congregation moving. Near the end of his sermon he said this church has really got to walk – to which someone in the back yelled, “let her walk preacher” The preacher then said if this church is going to go it’s got to get up and run to which someone again yelled with gusto, “let her run preacher.” Feeling the surge of the church, the preacher then said with even louder gusto, “if this church is going to go it’s got to really fly” and once again with ever greater gusto, someone yelled, “let her fly preacher, let her fly.” Yes the church needs to walk, run and fly. But the question is how do we make it do it? What strategy do we put in place? We must be ready to give our resources. Stewardship is not limited to giving, but it is enriched with a sense of spirituality, a social responsibility, and a political will. It is the entire management and sustainability of what the Lord has given us for his service. Glory be to God in the Highest. Amen.

 

Beloved it’s time to rise up and be counted. Amen!

[1] © WCC General Assembly 2006