By Betty Luke
Cracks in some of Isiolo’s Full Gospel Church of Kenya (FGCK) branches could slowly divide believers even as sources reveal of plans to have some of the churches placed under Meru’s Ruiri district.
At the centre of the dispute involving Isiolo Local Church Assembly (LCA) that has Chechelesi, Mwangaza, Kiwanjani and Milimani churches, is an alleged plan to illegally ordain a Pastor at one of the local churches to a Reverend and interference by some retired Church leaders.
There is also disconnect between senior church leaders and their predecessors with both reading from different scripts.
Last week, a section of the believers are said to have illegally gained entry into Mwangaza church during wee hours of Sunday and carried away all the chairs to Milimani church, the headquarters, where the four branches were to have a joint get together service.
This, sources say, was meant frustrate the church believers who had supposedly insisted they would not take part in the joint service even as words went round that some of the senior church leaders had planned to ordain local Pastor Stanley Mutirithia at the church service.
Dozens of worshippers from the three other branches would later during the day storm and disrupt service at the Mwangaza church, which was attended by the Regional overseer Bishop David Kaibung’a and District overseer Bishop Gideon Kirima.
While majority of the believers at the Mwangaza church said they chose to boycott the joint service as communication was not made through the right channel, others revealed of an existing row between Pastor Mutirithia and retired Bishop William Thirari.
Police officers had to be quickly called in to secure the “altar” as rowdy believers shouted at the two senior church leaders for reportedly planning to ordain the pastor against the church traditions.
Our investigation revealed that members of the church were divided on whether their pastor should be ordained to a Reverend or not with the majority affirmative, saying having previously served in Kiwanjani, the man of the cloth deserved a promotion.
Mr Eliud Kinoti, one of the church believers, accused the Retired Bishop of intruding into the running of the church instead of taking a back seat.
“We respect him so much but he does not want to allow current leaders to do their work. We are not divided (as worshippers), it’s some of the leaders inciting some of us,” he said.
Those of contrary opinion maintained that they would not allow the church to be registered under Ruiri district in Meru, alleging ulterior motive between the Pastor and the two senior church leaders.
“If it is a must for him to be ordained to Reverend, then it is okay but he must be transferred elsewhere,” Elder Simon Mworia, who has been a member of the church since 1980s, said.
This even as some of the worshippers alleged that the pastor had chosen to transfer the church due to continued mistreatment by Isiolo LCA leaders including a Reverend overseeing the four branches.
“He (pastor) has built the church from his pocket and it is the biggest compared to even the headquarters. This is what is irking some of the LCA leaders who want to micromanage the churches,” one of the members alleged.
Retired Bishop Thirari rubbished off the interference claims, saying while he had retired, he could not sit and watch as illegalities happen in a church he passionately worked to popularizing in the region, about four decades ago.
“The promotion is not necessary because we already have a Reverend at Milimani church. The Pastor should first sit down with church elders so that the process is consultative even though, I feel it is not necessary,” he said.
Reports indicate that the Reverend, only identified as Muchena, was an ally to the retired cleric and had reportedly married his daughter.
The Reverend, some of the believers claimed, was micromanaging running of the Isiolo LCA and that was being influenced by the “father in law”.
“You cannot manage a church like your family. There are rules that must be followed and we must ensure we have a sober person as the team leader,” another believer said.
Sources within the top echelon revealed of plans to separate the churches with the Isiolo-Moyale highway such that those on left side fall under Meru and the Milimani church remains on Isiolo side.