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DP Ruto’s millions rock the church amid anxiety over prayer meeting

DP Ruto’s millions rock the church amid anxiety over prayer meeting

  • Everlyne Kwamboka and James Wanzala 27th Apr 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300
Bishop Kepha Omae, Archbishop Arthur Kitonga and other leaders of the Redeemed Gospel Church address the press at the church compound in Huruma, Nairobi, yesterday. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The scramble for millions of shillings usually donated by Deputy President William Ruto has triggered divisions in the church on whether to receive such monies or not. And in Murang’a, controversy rocked last-minute cancellation of the much-hyped interdenominational prayer meeting that was to be graced by Ruto after clerics who were organising it pulled out over “other pressing issues”. In Nairobi, the Anglican Church of Kenya head, Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, who triggered the debate on political donations early in the week, appeared to change tune, now saying it would be difficult to distinguish between dirty and clean money. While Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Chairman Philip Anyolo maintained that they had banned politics and fundraising at the altar, other clerics said they would welcome the monies with open arms.

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“It’s not easy to know where the money is coming from and you cannot go around asking them that, unless he or she tells you that they stole it, from for instance such and such place, and are bringing it to build the church,” said Deliverance Churches of Kenya Bishop Mark Kariuki. Kariuki, also the chair of the Evangelical Association of Kenya, is leading the wing of the clergy urging caution against wholesome condemnation of political donations. Besides arguing that not all politicians are corrupt, they are also saying they cannot reasonably exclude politicians from church activities, including fundraisers. Heart of the giver “Until one is proved guilty, it is hard to say so and so is corrupt. It’s upon the individual churches to make a decision on how to deal with the situation as it comes,” said Kariuki. For Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of Jesus Is Alive Ministries, the matter is crystal clear: God looks at the heart of the giver.

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“If a person espouses the values of our nation then we cannot deny them the chance to address us in church. If they share the virtues of unity, development and biblical principles then we welcome them but if they do not then they have no business on the pulpit,” said Wanjiru. Full Time Winners Gospel Church Chairman Stephen Maina condemned Sapit for proposing banning of politicians from participating in church fundraisers while Archbishop Raphael Kituva of Good News Church of Africa said his church had not yet found the formula of “sieving sinners”. “There is no way we can sieve sinners. Let those who want to give do so, it’s upon you and your God,” said Kituva. But Sapit clarified that he was not targeting particular individuals in his declaration. He said people should make their donations quietly “the way it used to happen in the early years”. Earlier this week, Ruto somewhat appeared to counter the Anglican Church’s directive on social media, tracing the genesis of his charity to Sunday school: “We will continue to worship Jehovah with our hearts and substance. We are unashamed of our God and unapologetic to our faith.”

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Yesterday, Sapit said the church will continue to mobilise resources to sustain its mission agenda, but quietly. Harambee culture “Harambees have become a culture. I may not have the power to tell them to return the money because it has been used to build a church. We need to state the Christian identity by saying a church is a place of worship and not for play,” he said. Anyolo, on the other hand, said the Catholic Church will give a comprehensive statement on this matter on May 7. Christ Is The Answer Ministries (CITAM) Bishop David Oginde distanced his church from the present quagmire, saying he neither allows politics nor fundraisers in church.

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But retired Presbyterian Church minister, Rev Timothy Njoya, tore into the present church leaders for “selling the soul of the church” to politics and vanity. “Churches should not be excited to receive benevolent money from politicians who tax Kenyans twice. Some pastors are more greedy than politicians and they are collecting more money in form of harambees than what chiefs used to from our mothers and grandmothers in the village,” he said. Referring to the teachings of the bible, Njoya reminded the clergy that “Jesus did not sanctify but washed our sins”, adding that they should reject such money if they stand for truth. In Murang’a, Bishop Stephen Maina, who was chairing the committee organising today’s event, said the rally was put off “to enable the clergy and other persons expected to attend the burial of Jonathan Moi”. He said Ruto had confirmed attendance. “It is unfortunate that we lost the former President’s son and the burial coincides with the date of our prayer rally. We have just pushed it to May 11 and all parties are in agreement,” said Maina. However, Murang’a South Sub-county Administrator Michael Githii said organisers for the prayers had not applied for licence to the county government as the law demands. “What I know is that no meeting can take place without the knowledge of the county government,” posed Githii MPs Ngunjiri Wambugu and Maina Kamanda, who are opposed to DP Ruto, read more in the cancellation of the meeting than what the organisers explained. “From the word go this was a political meeting and organisers are just hiding behind the religious cover to advance their interests,” Ngunjiri said. [Additional reports by Francis Ngige, Boniface Gikandi and Stephen Nzioka]

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