August 2016 Rev.Peter Kiama (left) and Ven Samuel Kimohu (Right) share a light moment at St John Anglican Church Sutton,Massachusetts. Pic Samrack Media
VEN. SAMUEL KIMOHU’S RESPONSE TO THE BISHOP’S ERRONEOUS ACT
I have been maligned, accused, abused, and mischaracterized in the press. I feel compelled after much prayer and soul searching to respond in kind to the Bishop with all due respect citing the following:
- The church is an institution. In the Anglican Communion, the relationship between a bishop and his clergy is pastoral and paternal in nature, and borders on mutual respect and confidentiality.
- The discussion by the bishop of confidential matters pertaining to one of ‘his’ clergy in the press violates this cardinal tenet and rules of natural justice. The dignity of the pastoral institution and common decency have been thrown out of the window and replaced by personal vendetta.
- Any communication bordering on discipline of any nature can only be formally communicated from the bishop to his clergy in formal writing. The assumption and what has been fed to the public is that I have received an email. That aside, an email in this time and age can be a hacked communication emanating from anyone including persons bent on destroying laid down structures. Hence is not a valid form of communication in ecclesiastical and more disciplinary matters even before we can discuss the issue of jurisdiction.
- The accusations levelled against me are actually what all have read in the press. I hate to be accused, judged, and condemned in the court of public opinion via the press. Neither my call nor training, not even canonical relationship was ever established through the media.
- The bishop knows quite well that I am ordained by the Church in Kenya. He has no jurisdiction over my licensing or ordination. “Defrocking” is a very strong contention. Please note that only the ordaining agency can defrock. In my case, only the Church in Kenya. I still hold onto my ordination certificate.
- St. Stephen’s Church is purely and inherently a Kenyan Community Church. We have had so many community issues, contributions and pursuits for the benefit and welfare of the Kenyans in Diaspora. The bishop has never contributed anything towards this end.
- The Kenyan Community members have contributed and raised money for rent and subsequent mortgage payments of the building where we worship. The bishop has contributed not a single penny towards it.
- St. Stephen’s Church is wholly owned and operated by Kenyans and for Kenyans within the Diaspora. Our relationship with the bishop is and has always been out of mutual respect and co-working in the Vineyard of the Lord. Absent this, a paternalistic relationship cannot work in a Christian church.
- The bishop says “… on many occasions, Kimuhu picks out any parishioner from the pews and would ask them to conduct a Sunday service sermon, even while such parishioners have no theological training, putting the correct scriptural and spiritual nourishing of the flock in peril.” In our background, we practice priesthood of all believers since we do not have enough pastors for the people. It is a cultural aspect for which the bishop would never understand. There is nowhere in the statutes that say only a theologian can preach.
- I have been accused of officiating over a wedding negligently and illegally. I can show anyone interested a copy of a “Certificate of Divorce Absolute” for the bridegroom as issued by a competent court within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- I have been accused of counseling services without a license. The bishop needs to be made aware that I am an ordained minister who has gone through theological training. Part of my training includes but not limited to Pastoral Care and Counseling, Family and Marriage Therapy, and Pre-marital and Post-Marital Counseling. The good bishop should be able to differentiate between pastoral counseling and professional counseling. To the extent that he seems unaware, then this is for his information; what I did was pastoral counseling. I am aware professional counseling requires licensing by the requisite state. Pastoral counseling doesn’t.
- Our community is a very cohesive cultural group. Most of our members are not necessarily from an Anglican Church background. As a result, some of them still have connections with their former pastors in Kenya. When a member requests me to allow a pastor that is visiting them and who used to be their pastor, I am obligated to do that for the benefit of the flock. The dictates prescribed by the bishop for only his approved preachers cannot work in our cultural context.
- To the extent that I am employed, paid, and sustained with funds raised by members, only the members can suspend me from serving at St. Stephen’s Church. Please note that I have never received any remuneration from the bishop. I am therefore captive to the dictates and demands of the members.
- We have been operating on the level of mutual respect with the bishop. To this extent and if at all I can be judged to have been a disgrace to the American Anglican Church, I do apologize. However, the good bishop should have followed the laid down canonical steps to handle this. Indeed he should have called me and outlined to me the avenues that have caused disgrace.
- Consequently and in the same light, I find it ironical that the same bishop would approach me to be in charge of another Kenyan Community Church like he did in the case of St. John’s Church, Sutton knowing very well that I were such a disgrace.
- I am aware that there could be some people in the church who may disagree with my ministry approach. This is normal and common in ecclesiastical matters. However, these disagreements can be better handled internally without necessarily mortgaging the community to outsiders who will neither understand our cultural orientation nor its historical trajectory.
- Today, if we were to have a case of a community member in our church needing support as has always been the case, we do not expect the bishop to send any contribution and support as he has never done in the past. Let us not destroy our cultural fabric and communal cohesion to please an outsider who we respected but has abused the same respect.
- The elections of Sunday Sept. 03rd, 2017 in the church were done by members in a free and fair environment. Any aggrieved party or member for having not been elected this time round can always wait for a future opportunity.
- Disbanding a vestry is immoral and erroneous because it creates a vacuum in church leadership. This in and of itself is an unacceptable act as the church is an institution and cannot operate in a vacuum.
- There is a popular dictum; “It is the wearer of the shoe that knows where it hurts.” The bishop resides, operates and has a church in New York. He cannot in all fairness understand us or control the church with a remote gadget. Kenyan congregants are mature enough and capable of shaping their own destiny and making their own informed and independent decisions.
- It is immoral to assume and think that we can allow one person to destroy a work that has been established painfully and sacrificially for over sixteen (16) years.
- Kenyans as a people have only recently recovered from their deeply traumatizing and painful colonial history borne of the British rule in their own country and motherland. Subjecting ourselves to this kind of a mentality in this time and age would be perceived as neo-colonialism. This is quite an unwelcome scenario and, if anything bordering on racial undertones.
- Let us continue to worship God in this foreign land in one accord and unity of purpose, conscious of our heritage and our rights as a people. I wish to intimate to all and sundry, worship continues at St. Stephen’s on Sunday as usual.
- FINALLY, BRETHREN, “TO HIM WHO IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM STUMBLING AND TO PRESENT YOU BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS PRESENCE WITHOUT FAULT AND WITH GREAT JOY, TO THE ONLY GOD OUR SAVIOR BE GLORY, MAJESTY, POWER AND AUTHORITY, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, BEFORE ALL AGES, NOW AND FOREVERMORE! AMEN. (JUDE 24-25)
Your Pastor and friend,
Ven. Samuel Kimohu