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New Archbishop-elect of Kenya is a ‘spiritual reconciler’

by Pat Ashworth

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All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi

All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi

ONE of the six Kenyan bishops who attended the Lambeth Conference, as well as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem last year, has been elected Archbishop of Kenya.

He is Dr Eliud Wabukala, who is 58, has been Bishop of Bungoma since in 1996, and chairs the National Council of Churches of Kenya. Bungoma has a diocesan link with Peterborough. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Ian Cundy, described Dr Wabukala on Tuesday as “a reconciler both polit­ically in the country and within the House of Bishops”. He succeeds Arch­bishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

Thousands of Christians are re­ported to have thronged the streets of Bungoma to welcome the Archbishop-elect on his return home from the election. The election process at All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi last Friday was described by the local press as “peaceful, joyous and orderly”.

In his acceptance speech, Bishop Wabukala urged political leaders to put aside divisive politics and work on developmental issues that would benefit all Kenyans. Kenya is still in crisis after the disputed election of President Kibaki in December 2007. Bishops and others at a provincial meeting of the Anglican Church of Kenya in February were outspoken about government corruption, moral decadence, and a self-inflicted lack of food security.

The National Council of Churches was even more trenchant in a press release it issued in March. It de­scribed government ministers as spending their time quarrelling about peripheral issues and “pea­cock­ing around their country”; the President as “moribund”; and the Prime Minister as “ineffectual”. It urged reform of the judiciary, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the post-election violence.

Dr Wabukala taught at St Paul’s Anglican Theological College, Limuru, before becoming a bishop. Bishop Cundy described him as “a deeply spiritual person, theologically able but a lovely, humble man, who is widely respected both among his fellow bishops and also among the political leaders of the country.

“You sense the great love the people have for him. . . He will certainly want to try and bring the GAFCON and Lambeth people closer together.”

New Congolese Primate. The Bishop of Boga, the Rt Revd Henri Isingoma Kahwa, was elected on Tuesday as Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Congo. A member of the Anglican Consultative Council, he succeeds Dr Fidèle Dirokpa.

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