UCG East Africa has grown to about 30 congregations and Bible study groups now meeting in five countries, served by six pastors and two assistant pastors. UCG East Africa is registered in Kenya, and the Rwandan government has just certified receipt of a UCG registration application there. We currently own four Feast sites, three additional church halls and hold two annual United Youth Camps.
Highlights of this visit included an exciting United Youth Camp held along the shore of Lake Victoria with 91 campers in attendance. The Got Kachola, Kenya, Feast site venue offered teens from around the region a chance to visit the largest African lake, experience boating and participate in aspects of commercial fishing practices firsthand. Daily activities included volleyball, team building, Christian living, campfire, journalism, various games, daily hymn singing and kitchen prep. Pastor Joel Owouti and his staff of 10 did an outstanding job of teaching and encouraging our youth to live God’s way.
Mid-trip we held a ministerial conference with our eight elders and their wives, followed by a semi-annual UCG-EA National Council meeting. This coincided with the raising of four elders to the role of pastor. They are Joel Owouti, Kriphas Ongori, Wycliffe Chiriswa and Simon N’gan’ga. Each has been assigned a church circuit with multiple congregations and related responsibilities, including some pastoring in other countries within the East Africa region.
Leadership development in the region has been a priority for more than a decade. A semi-annual two-day leadership conference was held in Nakuru, Kenya, with 40 of our established leaders and several potential new leaders from across Kenya and Rwanda. I led an examination of the terms “pastor,” “shepherd” and “hireling,” along with their biblical implications. We reviewed the biblical concepts concerning God’s “sheep,” beginning with David and moving through the New Testament. We delved into what the term “leader” connotes and identified many biblical leaders: the good, the bad and the unavailing. Interactive breakout sessions compiled various elements of godly leadership coupled with holy righteous character. While Merrie met with the ladies and discussed being women of godly character, Moses Nyaira addressed the men about aspects of character necessary for Church leadership. An interactive session with everyone explored and documented many of the serious challenges extant in the Church today. We then explored which problematic matters are the responsibility of Church leadership to address and which are the responsibility of others to handle.
Opportunities were also made to spend one-on-one time with each of our senior administrative staff, discussing and assisting with various issues that arise in the normal course of doing God’s work here. Annual budgets were finalized, along with strategic planning for the coming fiscal year. Several congregations were visited on Sabbaths and weekdays, allowing one-on-one time en route with the pastors who serve them.
Monte Knudson serves effectively as my assistant. He and his wife Susie have visited Kenya with us about five times since 2003. This past August, Mr. Knudson began making his own visits to Kenya with regularity. He and Antonio Ndung’u have just finalized plans for a Feast site on the coast near Mombasa. This provides international visitors a unique opportunity for international elders and brethren to attend the Feast with us with affordable beachfront accommodations right on the Indian Ocean.
All the leaders and brethren from across East Africa send you their greetings. Remember them as your brothers and sisters in God’s family.