Parishioners at an Anglican church in Kenya have walked out in protest against their bishop’s announcement that he was suspending a popular priest for alleged homosexuality, the Daily Nation reported.
For the second week in a row, the Rev. John Njogu Gachau led a service for his supporters under a tree outside what had been his church.
A smaller group attended worship service yesterday inside St. Andrews Anglican Parish Kagongo, which was half-empty, the Daily Nation reported. That service was led by the Rev. Samuel Maina, who had been appointed by Bishop Joseph Kagunda to replace Gachau.
Gachau, a senior Kenyan priest who had unsuccessfully competed for the bishop’s position in 2004, was suspended Sept. 10 along with four other priests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, who also were accused of homosexuality.
He was accused of “luring young boys into sex in his parish house,” an accusation that Gachau said was untrue and offensive. He described himself as “a morally upright man with a loving wife and three adoring kids.”
His supporters accused Maina of importing worshippers from neighboring churches in Kiamuyu and Othaya in order to keep the sanctuary from being empty during the service there.
“If Rev. Samuel Maina is retained as the leader, this church must be split into two. We don’t want him. I would rather move to a different church,” said worshipper Grace Njoki, quoted by the Daily Nation.
Gachau supporters claimed that the whole issue of homosexuality was a way of hoodwinking people. The real issue is a power struggle that is threatening to tear the church apart, they said, according to Standard Digital.
Police were called in yesterday for the second Sunday in a row to maintain order between the two groups of worshippers.
Bishop Kagunda said his churches were calm, except for the wrangles in Kagongo.
Dissident worshippers accused the church leadership of foul play, saying that Gachau was suspended because of his remarkable record as a priest.
Nairobi News reported about the turmoil on Sept. 20:
[Parishioners] refused to enter the church and mocked the Rev Samuel Maina, the new priest. They said the Rev Maina lacked leadership qualities. Only a handful were in the church, the majority preferring to sit outside in protest.
According to the protesters, Archdeacon Gachau was not given a chance to defend himself.
“We have not seen the young people the church says he molested. We won’t step into the church until Archdeacon Gachau is back,” said Mr Gerald Kinyua. …
“Gachau brought young people back to church. Church politics has a lot to do with the archdeacon’s problems,” said another worshipper, Nellius Wanjiku.
Less than 20 worshippers were in church with the Rev Maina. He attempted to talk to the group camping outside but was met with jeers. After the service, he locked himself in the vestry.
“The church constitution does not allow us to comment on such matters,” he said.
Police were called in when tensions threatened to boil over.
- Kenya: Gay Row – Service Grounded Again (Sept. 28, 2015, AllAfrica.com)
- Church service grounded over gay priest row (Sept. 28, 2015, Nairobi News)
- Worshipers boycott service, demand return of ‘gay’ priest (Sept. 21, 2015, Nairobi News)
- Homosexuality row threatens to split Anglican Church of Kenya (Sept. 21, 2015, Standard Digital)
- Petition to archbishops: End anti-gay purge in Kenya (Sept. 11, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Suspended Kenyan priest: I am not homosexual (Sept. 11, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Anglican Church of Kenya conducts anti-gay purge (Sept. 10, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Obama in Kenya: ‘Treat people equally under the law’ (July 25, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya buzzing with anti-gay worries as it awaits Obama’s visit (July 21, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- U.S.-based church votes to support LGBTI Africans (July 3, 2015, 76crimes.com)