By Kenya Confidential Religious Affairs Editor, Nairobi – May 21, 2019
The raging row over Kenyan Churches accepting proceeds of Corruption as tithe from politicians is a tip of a monstrous scandal rocking mainstream and commercial churches in the East African country.
The following is a very disturbing observation from J. M. Githaiga of Pentecostal Church of East Africa (PCEA) which is seemingly drowning in a deep ocean of unethical conduct with its shepherds.
MY BELOVED PCEA CHURCH IS NOT DOING WELL
The PCEA Church is one of the oldest denominations among the mainstream churches in Kenya. The PCEA ranks among the likes of the Anglican Church and Catholic Church, with a membership of over five million.
Unfortunately, PCEA has in the recent past been plagued by several financial scandals that have been in public limelight for several years. It’s unfortunate that the institutions that we should be seeking solace from are themselves also plagued by systematic corruption that is threatening to erode the moral fabric of our society.
Could it be the reasons why the Churches are all too more willing to accept donations and hand-outs from politicians without being concerned where the money is coming from?
We, the majority of the Christians of PCEA are concerned and worried about the direction the church and some of the ministers are taking. The Church has become riddled with personal interests and some church activities are shrouded in secrecy.
In the past, the PCEA has been caught in a web of scandals that apparently seem to have been swept under the carpet. One of the alleged scandals is the theft of funds that was first discovered by detectives from government agencies who noticed strange movements of the church’s money banked at a local bank, with the cash being channelled into what the officers suspected to be “dubious” accounts. Their investigation, with collaboration from the church’s leadership, is what led to some former church officials being charged in court.
It would be hoped that the PCEA leadership and the General Assembly would come clean and address the issue concerning the alleged theft. But, quite surprisingly they conveniently skirted around the issue and asked us to pray for the church and its leaders and for the difficult task that leaders have of leading the church of Christ.
During the General Assembly and the General Administrative Council, when some church leaders tried to push for a clear answer, they were put down with the threat that the matter was before court.
The church is supposed to be the light of the righteous ways of the Christians, but instead of shining the light of Christ into the dark hole of sinful activities, the church is busy covering those very sinful activities.
Most ministers accused of financial scandals are covered for by their fellow ministers and elders making queries are threatened or deposed. The best that can happen is to transfer a scandalous minister to a new parish rather than deal with the mess. Any minister who asks the right questions is seemingly very unpopular.
Whereas the Church is supposed to be at the forefront of fighting corruption and other vices in the society, it seems its being swallowed by the Corruption within its circles. This is of great concern and a worry to most of the PCEA Christians, because we cannot continue contributing money that ends up in the ministers’ pockets.
Local development in many places is freezed until you contribute to the money that mainly eventually benefits ministers and projects that have little to do with the ordinary worshipers such as Milele hotels, Jabavu flats, hospitals and a university perpetually being redeemed.
A parishioner did a simple calculation of how they have been contributing an average of three million every year to the CESS or MMF since 2015. Yet for ten years they have been unable to finish their local churches .Now they are being labelled as mean and showing little concern of the work of God. For contributing 15million in only five years, they couldn’t complete a church building and parish manse worth less than ten million.
Also, the trend whereby some PCEA church officials and /elders have been accused of grabbing prime church land and properties has become very worrying and is painting a very negative picture of the church.
Furthermore, in terms of projects implementation and management, the church is performing dismally compared to the other big churches.
For example, I first heard about the Nairobi Pentecostal Church (NPC) in 2000, which was smaller than the PCEA. Now the NPC is increasingly becoming almost as big as PCEA but with a more tangible ministry and informed ministers.This is despite the PCEA having well educated ministers who seemingly are unable to deliver or have a misplaced agenda.
Many of the church projects across the country are performing dismally especially in the education sector. PCEA flagship health institutions such as Kikuyu Hospital and Tumutumu Hospital, once among the premier hospitals are drastically falling back.
Across the country, we constantly here of church wrangles where some Church ministers have been accused of mismanagement and undermining the church leadership. The bone of contention has been ministers making unilateral decisions and undertaking church projects without consulting church leaders and members.
In my catechism, I was told this church is governed by elders and courts. But it now seems that the church ministers have taken over as the courts and you have to either toe their line or move out. The said ministers don’t want to be questioned and the same has been criminalized inevitably leading to stalemates. Naturally, this has affected many church projects which either have collapsed or stalled due to among other issues wrangles, mismanagement and fraud.
When the church has run into financial constraints they are quick to come to the Presbytery to urge members to pay up the cess. This is overburdening the churches because it implies that they have to abandon their own projects to come to the rescue of the institutional mother church.
It is very disappointing that when we buy plots, build churches and schools we are not entitled to ask any questions regarding the same. And if you ask any question you are told to take a walk. The other disheartening issue is that after buying the property it’s registered in an out of touch entity called Presbyterian Foundation which can’t even help with court cases when a dispute arises.
Some Ministers have been known to have messed the finances of some parishes and no disciplinary action is ever taken except being transferred another station.
If this church and the ministers continue like this; that is with the leaders’ unchecked dipping of their hands into the church coffers and continued weakening of elders and other local leadership, the cess collection which forms a part of their core gospel will drop.
Most of the Christians are not happy at all. And If the Church is becoming as corrupt as the politicians we worry because it’s not setting a good precedent but a bad example. It will therefore loose all moral authority to lecture others, especially the government which is also riddled with corruption and malfeasance.
I know some of us will criminalize my thinking and writing, but Christ, he who called the religious leadership selfish and hypocritical would still ask, what legacy is the current PCEA church setting for the future generation? I am proud of many ministers who left enduring legacies and worked hard for the church, I am also aware of many who are full of sloth and simply receive their monthly pay without earning it.
I would be happy to receive your opinion if you belong with me. My beloved PCEA isn’t doing well! How can we help, what is our role in righting the wrongs?
J. M. Githaiga
PCEA Tassia Embakasi PCEA Gateway, PCEA Kingongo Judea PCEA, PCEA Githima PCEA Kandisi-youth PCEA NGONG Parish,Enchorro-Emuny Church PCEA Naivasha East Parishnai PCEA Nakuru West Nursing PCEA Ngaini Parish Neema PCEA Naivasha town parish (ROPES) PCEA Wema Parish Nakuru Nanyuki PCEA Muthaiga Church PCEA Nairobi North Presbyterial Youth PCEA Maralal Academy Pcea Makupa Academy-Original Culte Français Nairobi Young Men In PCMF – PCEA Nairobi Region/ YPCMF Pcea Langata Mombasa Camp PCEA St Stephen Senior Ndoria Stephen PCEA Bethsaida Nakuru PCEA Nakuru East Presbytery PCEA Imara Daima Youth Fellowship. PCEA Kikuyu Hospitalk PCEA Karen Parish PCEA Jitegemea Pressj PCEA Jordan Gitwej PCEA Sukari Parisha PCEA Membley Youth Fellowshipf PCEA Ongata FC