29.01.08 10:50 Age: 4 yrs

Kenyan churches to receive WCC solidarity visit


Prior to the distribution of asistance, volunteers from the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church verify a list of names of residents of the Mathare slum area who fled the post-election violence. Photo: Stephen H. Padre/ACT International


Churches working for peace amidst a wave of post electoral violence in Kenya will receive a pastoral and solidarity visit of an international ecumenical delegation sent by the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 30 January to 3 February.


Churches in Kenya are struggling to work for peace and reconciliation amidst a wave of post electoral violence along ethnic lines which has killed more than 700 people and obliged some 250,000 people to flee their homes since the beginning of the year.


The visit aims to express the solidarity of churches worldwide with the Kenyan churches at a particularly challenging time. The visiting team will also learn how best the international fellowship of churches can support Kenyan churches' efforts towards peace and reconciliation. The visit is being hosted by the National Council of Churches in Kenya.


Current scenes of violence and destruction "portray a country that one would hardly recognize as Kenya", says WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, who is himself a Kenyan. While expressing hope that Kenya "will overcome the prevailing situation and that the churches will play an important part in speeding up that time", Kobia sees the visit as "a way of saying that we feel part of the same family, and when and where any part of the family hurts, we hurt with them".


The programme of the visit will include meetings with Kenyan religious leaders, both Christian and of other faiths; government officials and opposition leaders; and churches, local communities and civil society organizations in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Kakamega. The programme is subject to changes according to conditions on the ground.


Members of the visiting team are:


  • Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), United States.
  • Ms Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, general secretary of the World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA), Zimbabwe.
  • Prelate Dr Stephan Reimers, member of the board of the Church Development Service EEDand representative of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and EKD's to the European Union, Germany.
  • Rt Rev. Thomas Olmorijoi Laiser, Bishop of Arusha, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.
  • Mr Graham Gerald McGeoch, ministerial candidate of the Church of Scotland and member of the WCC central and executive committees, United Kingdom.
  • Rev. Stig Utnem, former general secretary of the Council on Ecumenical and International Relations of the Church of Norway. 
  • Dr Geeske Zanen, World YWCA board member, Netherlands.


Support staff being sent by the WCC to accompany the delegation includes Rev. Dr Elenora Giddings-Ivory, Dr Aruna Gnanadason and Mr Juan Michel.


The visit of the group, which is called "Living Letters," is part of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010), an initiative promoting peaceful alternatives to violence. The decade will culminate with an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to be held as conclusion of the DOV in early May 2011.


Last October, a Living Letters team visited churches in the United States; earlier on, in August, another team visited Sri Lanka. About forty such teams are expected to visit different countries until 2011.


Media contact in Kenya: Juan Michel +88-164-145-7013 (satellite phone); +25-473-841-36-14 (Kenyan mobile phone)


WCC general secretary statement on churches' peacemaking role in Kenya, 9 January


WCC general secretary statement on post election violence in Kenya, 2 January


National Council of Churches in Kenya


Background information on the Living Letters visits


More information about the Living Letters visit to Kenya


Decade to Overcome Violence