12.02.08 18:35 Age: 4 yrs

Reflections by Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick


Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick (right), with the leader and presidential candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement Raila Odinga.

Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), United States, was part of the Living Letters solidarity team sent to Kenya by the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 30 January to 3 February 2008.

Read his personal reflections on this experience:



I had the great privilege of being part of a World Council of Churches ‘Living Letters' delegation to Kenya at the beginning of February.  We went at the request of the National Council of Churches in Kenya to support the churches there in seeking reconciliation, to lend the voice of the world church for efforts toward peace, and to share the prayers and concerns of Christians around the world with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Kenya.  It was an unforgettable experience.  Like my colleagues, I was devastated by the suffering of so many people, yet also left with a sense of hope that Christians and others might yet be a force for justice and reconciliation in that land.


During our time in Kenya, we met with the leaders of the churches and the leadership of the Inter-religious Forum of Kenya.  We spent several hours with the Vice President Kolonzo and members of the Kenyan Cabinet and with the Presidential Candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement, Raila Odinga, and the key leadership of that party to share our concerns for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.  One of our most helpful gatherings was with the leadership of women's organizations, who were united and passionate that a better way be found to achieve reconciliation.  Our most heartbreaking visits were with families whose love ones had been killed, whose homes had been burned to the ground, and who found themselves stranded in internal refugee camps.  We even spent time with some very angry young men who saw no hope for change short of violence.


What we learned was that there are no "quick fixes" to the problems in Kenya.  After listening to various explanations of the crisis a member of our delegation from the United Kingdom stated, "This is as complicated as Northern Ireland."  And he was right!  On the surface the conflict is over a flawed election.  Underneath that are years of festering conflicts between the different ethnic groups who make up that nation.  Beneath that are deep injustices left over from the Colonial period and a society with one of the widest gaps between the rich and the poor anywhere in the world.  What was clear to all was that peace, reconciliation and justice must go hand in hand in any solution.  What was also clear to almost everyone with whom we spoke was a profound sense that "this must not be allowed to deteriorate into another Rwanda."


What left me with hope is that the churches, who themselves have at times been compromised, are now committed to being a force for peace and reconciliation, and they have invited all of us to join them in praying and working for peace in Kenya.  I do hope and pray that we will head their call and that Kenya will know peace.


Listen to the interview with Rev. Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick on the website of  the PBS' Religion and Ethics News Weekly.   



More information on the Living Letters visit to Kenya


Photo story


National Council of Churches in Kenya


Background information on the Living Letters visits