Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Kenya - Glimpses of glory in worship

On Wednesday August 21st I travelled from Nairobi to the region around Meru with Mrs Pauline Ntombura, the Presiding Bishop's wife. We visited a number of places in the Kaaga and Miathene Synods and then stayed overnight on their shamba (small farm) in Mbaranga. I had visited the Miathene Synod in August 2010 with four others from the Darlington District because we have a close partnership. On Thursday morning we went to Kianjai where there was to be a celebration with the Synod Women's Fellowship. As we drove to the church we were met by the women, singing and dancing. I got out of the car and joined them - we sang and danced our way to the Bishop's Manse which is near the church. It was good to go into the manse to eat and drink tea because the five of us had stayed there for 2 weeks in 2010. I was welcomed in by Jane who had cared for us then.
Dancing together at Kianjai

After the refreshments we went over to the area outside the church and the celebration began. Each of the circuits contributed; some sang, others danced. The Women's Fellowship in Kenya is focusing on Jeremiah chapter 1 this year and so many of them had composed songs or choral verse and dance to illustrate this passage.
Dramatised presentation of Jeremiah 1

It was a wonderful afternoon at the end of which the women dressed me as an African woman - and we danced again.

In the evening we went to Mbaranga Methodist Church. Here there were many friends gathered for worship.

Each group within the church led part of the worship which was enthusiastic, and powerful. The Spirit was moving among us and we were inspired. There were many young people present and they have a very active youth group which is led by the young probationer minister - Revd Martin.

When the Women's Fellowship came forward they asked me to join them and to dance with them. To my surprise they then produced the Kenyan Women's Fellowship Uniform, dressed me in it and made me a member! They have told me that they meet at 2pm every Tuesday and would be glad if I could join them!

After this each of the groups in the church came forward in turn and encircled me while one of them prayed for me and for the Methodist Church in Britain. A wonderful evening ended with more food and drink.

The next day we returned to Nairobi for the start of the Ministerial Session of the Conference. The session began with a service of Holy Communion, the liturgy was very familiar as it was taken from the Methodist Service Book. The singing and the praise before we turned to the book were in Kiswahili and brought us with joy into the presence of God. It was very good to share bread and wine with sisters and brothers in Kenya.

The last act of worship I attended was on Sunday afternoon, the celebration for the beginning of the Representative Session of the Conference. I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 1:22-25 relating it to the  Conference theme for this year: Empowered for Transformation. The Kenyan Methodist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary last year as their third Jubilee. This year they are marking the beginning of a new Jubilee period, a period in which they are praying to be empowered by God for the transformation of individuals, the nation and the world. Before the sermon there were contributions from the very varied Methodist people in the Nairobi Synod.

 A Maasai congregation performed a traditional dance with a Christian theme.

 A Kikuyu Men's Fellowship also performed a traditional dance on the theme of faithfulness.
 You can see videos of the dancing below.

The Boys and Girls Brigade children marched in and were inspected by the Presiding Bishop and me before reciting a poem they had written on the importance of faith. Another familiar moment was singing the traditional Brigade hymn - 'Will your anchor hold'. Several other groups also gave their presentations including this Men's Fellowship from Charles New Circuit, the Women's Fellowship and a children's choir.

At the end of the afternoon we had celebrated the diversity and commitment of the Methodist Church in Kenya and we had all glimpsed the glory of God, revealed through words, music, dance and prayer.

I have been very conscious of the power of prayer since I was designated as President last year and I am profoundly grateful to all those who have prayed for me. In the last few months they have been joined by members of a church in Bolivia, by Ma Qui and her friends in Cameroon and by the people of Mbaranga Church. Before the act of worship ended on Sunday afternoon, all the Bishops surrounded me and 4 former Presiding Bishops joined the Present Presiding Bishop as they laid hands on me. I was commissioned in prayer again, this time the words were spoken by Revd Catherine Mutua who became the first Kenyan woman Bishop at the Conference last year. I was very blessed.
Bishop Catherine Mutua

On the left is the present Presiding Bishop - Revd Joseph Ntombura.
On the right are the first and second Presiding Bishops:  Revd Johana Mbogori and Revd Lawi Imathiu.

Tomorrow I will be writing about some of the work done in the community by the Methodist Church in Kenya.

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