AIPCA Gets New Leader To Replace Retired Archbishop Kabuthu In Relatively Peaceful Elections.

Bishop Julius Njoroge Gitau, the Archbishop-Elect of AIPCA Church.
Bishop Julius Njoroge Gitau, is the new head of the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) after being elected by delegates at the Bahati AIPCA Cathedral in Nairobi.

He will take over from Retired Archbishop Amos Mathenge Kabuthu, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years and has been in the helm of the church for the last three years. Until his election, Njoroge has served for 38 years a member of the House of Clergy, a very powerful council that heads the church’s affairs.

Njoroge garnered 27 votes, beating his closest competitor John Maina who garnered 23 votes. Others were David Njuguna (8 votes) and John Muchai (1).

The election process that was officiated by Anne Mwangi of the Department of the Registrar of Societies, was incident-free and all those who lost conceded defeat and pledged to work with the new Archbishop.
In his brief acceptance speech, Njoroge said thanked all his competitors and the delegates for the far they had gone as a church after a long period of conflicts. He said that his first mission was to unite the church and ensure that their constitution was henceforth followed to the letter.

“I have a glimpse of the realm of God. I want to thank the candidates who I have journeyed with these past few days, for the grace with which we walked with each other. Let’s forget our dirty past. Let’s focus on a bright future. My appeal is that we walk this journey as a team and I promise to work with the church committee so as to ensure that the will of the people is always upheld,” said the Archbishop-elect.

He promised also to convene a meeting of the Central Church Board within the next couple of weeks so as to map out the way forward for the church.

“As your team leader, I want to lead in cleaning up all the mess that have brought our church in the public limelight for all the wrong reasons for the last few years. I want to correct the mismanagement of manpower where we have witnessed massive ordinations that never followed our constitution. And it is for this reason that I declare a halt on any more ordinations until we sit down as a committee to deliberate on how to go about this matter,” he said.

Bishop Philip Kubai who is the chairperson of the Church Synod appealed to the congregation to support the Archbishop-Elect especially in seeking for solutions that had been bedeviling them for the last few years.

“The church is bigger than any of us. Let’s now pray for peace to prevail. Remember, when the church is chaos, God is not with us,” said Kubai.

Secretary General AIPCA Church Stanley Mburu Mwangi welcomed the appointment of the new archbishop and called for unity in the church. He appealed to the Archbishop-Elect to embrace dialogue within all the ranks and asked him to go out of his way to work with even those who were opposed to his election.

The National AIPCA Chairperson Paul Watoro Gichu pointed out that the exercise was a new beginning as it marked the end of wrangles and infighting within the church.

“This marks the end of wrangles and infighting within the AIPCA Church. It is now time to paint a different picture of our church. I appeal to everyone to uphold the spirit of forgiveness as we begin the journey towards heaven. We have no grudge with our retired Archbishop (Amos Kabuthu). As our constitution states, we are going to give him a very powerful sendoff for his service to the church,” said Gichu.

The AIPCA church has been for the last three years been embroiled in wrangles and court cases. Retired Archbishop Kabuthu and Gichu have been squabbling since 2013 in an ugly power struggle that at times turned nasty. The misunderstandings led to the formation of splinter group under Gichu.

The Gichu group has been questioning Kabuthu’s suitability to lead the church and at one time alleging that Kabuthu did not have the requisite academic papers to qualify for the leadership of the church. One has to be a holder of a degree in theology from a recognised university to qualify for the post.

Various efforts to unite the warring factions have been fruitless whilst violence erupting in certain scenarios. President Uhuru Kenyatta once personally tried to broker peace in the church after a meeting he called between the warring factions ended without concrete resolutions.

Bishop Samuel Ngacha Njiriri, who now heads Stewards Revival Pentecostal Church, had also previously volunteered to mediate between the two leaders but his efforts too ran to naught. He claimed that by rebelling against William Alexander, the Greek Orthodox archbishop who ordained AIPCA’s first three bishops, AIPCA consigned itself to forever be embroidered in leadership wrangles that have followed every head of the church.

Alexander was mistreated in Kihumbu-ini in Murang’a County where had been invited to ordain AIPCA’s pioneer bishops.

“All AIPCA leaders live under the culture of fear. They think everyone is after the other and start fights where there should be none,” said Njiriri.

He claimed that the infighting is in line with its church’s mission, which was basically to fight the colonial government through supporting such practices as polygamy and female circumcision. Njiriri also claimed that AIPCA also faces problems in balancing between its African nationalism roots and modern Christianity as well as lack of elaborate structures and liturgy and its own theological college to groom priests.
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