In early July, Nyango and Naserian Mission held a special ceremony for young men making the transition to elders. This transitional ceremony has been held in Maasai communities for generation, but this is the first time that Christian blessings and prayers were incorporated into the ceremony. Over 500 men participated in the ceremony; together with their wives and elders of the community, over 1,200 people were in attendance.
The ceremony began before dawn with everyone gathering in the cattle corral for early morning prayers and singing. The prayers concluded with a blessing of the milk. Cattle and milk are integral parts of the Maasai lifestyle and livelihood, so blessing of milk acts as a blessing of health, sustenance, and community suc
cess. Next the men proceeded to receive blessings from community elders and greetings from the church clergy. The men processed, in a single-file line, from outside, into the cattle corral. As they crossed the threshold, the community elders anointed the right arm of each young man with a mixture of milk, oil, and honey.
The elders washed this mixture from the arm to the walking stick and tree branch held by each young man. The young men then proceeded to shake hands and receive greetings from the clergy. After all the men had processed through, then their wives followed to be blessed by the elders and the clergy. The remaining parts of the ceremony included shaving of heads, symbolizing that the men are leaving their youth behind and are starting fresh as elders. And finally, all of the men participated in a meat-eating ceremony. Each man took a couple pieces of beef and drank a fermented honey drink, each a symbol that they are now elders of their community.
After the completion of the ceremony, the men, women, and elders returned to the open field outside of the cattle corral for singing, dancing, and celebrating. They joyfully celebrated the important transition in their community to welcome new elders. We are grateful for dedicated church leaders in Nyango and Naserian Mission for their commitment to incorporating Christian blessings into this important event, and for their invitation to KELC leaders and Maasai clergy from Kenya and Tanzania. Together we have witnessed a new way forward for our church communities to merge their Christian faith and their cultural heritage. Thanks be to God!
Kisii Mission, in Western Kenya, is the latest KELC community to host a seminar to learn about women’s issues. In December, a delegation from the Women’s Department, together with their partners from Hope Foundation for African Women facilitated a 4-day workshop to discuss the topics of Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, Human Rights, and Economic Empowerment.
The facilitators used a new learning model called Popular Education (PE). PE engages all participants to collectively and critically examine their environment and everyday experiences, so that they can take control of their own learning and development. This style of learning requires a lot of active participation and discussion. PE is a new style of learning for many people in Kenya. The participants in the seminar received it with excitement. Each successive day more people came to the seminar, as positive word of mouth had spread through the community of the new and engaging presentations.
At the end of the seminar, participants responded that they learned about legal rights that they did not know they had, including rights concerning their health and their access to social services. Other participants shared that this seminar has inspired them to work together as a community to improve on the economic standing of the whole community, rather than letting jealousy divide them. Lastly, they learned that ordinary people can create change, even if only few resources are available. Together they can protect each other from gender-based violence and insist on their human rights, within their families and their communities.
2017 will be a celebratory year for KELC. In February we will celebrate the 25th anniversary since becoming an independent church. In October we will join all Lutherans in celebrating the 500th year of reformation. Both of these commemorations will be important for KELC and our members. To ensure that we are able to spread the message of these anniversaries, we held a seminar for all of our church leaders to learn and share ideas about the history of our church, the current situation, and our future as a church.
The first day of the seminar focused on the Lutheran Reformation. Rev. Luke Mwololo presented on the Lutheran World Federation theme, “Liberated by God’s Grace”. The participants than attended small group sessions on the 3 subtheme topics: Salvation- Not For Sale, Human Beings- Not For Sale, and Creation- Not For Sale. These subjects were presented by Rev. Luke Mwololo, Rev. Catherine Ngina, and Ms. Elizabeth Hendrickson, respectively. The day concluded with a session on the history of the reformation, led by Rev. Johnes Ole Meliyio.
The next day we continued our discussion based on the information presented the previous day. The participants were able to share their ideas on how these themes are lived out in daily life in Kenya, and within our congregations. Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu moderated the discussions and later provided inputs on the history and future of KELC as we reach this important anniversary of 25 years since independence.
We concluded our time together with the dedication of a statue of Martin Luther, as well as the planting of 10 trees, all within the compound of Voi Lutheran Guesthouse. We look forward to continuing to celebrate these 2 important anniversaries within Kenya and with Lutherans around the world.
The workshop held on 20/09/16 to 23/09/16 at Nairobi KELC head office. It had people from the areas which are likely to have disaster in Kenya. There were 33 participants. Represented areas were: Magarini, Lungalunga, Makindu, Garsen, Singwaya, Mombasa, Voi, Olkeria, Pokot, Mutyambua, Hola/Wenje, Salama, Malindi, Kajiando, Ukambani, Loitoktok, Marafa, KELC head office, and Kambu.
The chief guest was Madam Ann Wangari from Lutheran World Federation. who did her best in all the three days. The main objectives of the seminar was:
A coming together of the people from the areas where there is high chances of calamities.
To strengthen the capacity of Act Alliance.
Areas which were discussed and clarified by Madam Wangari were:
Emergency result response strategy
Quality and accountability
Psychosocial in emergencies
Protection in Humanitarian Aid work
Because of time, what was delivered was the basic of it, where the teacher (Ann Wangari) suggested for another seminar for many days, so the teachings could be more effective. And also the same group should be back not another people.
Lastly, we were introduced to contingency planning, which seems to be a bit tiresome. In groups we prepared the plan and we made it. It was a good experience and learning. Everyone who participated promised to bring a change in their respective areas. Evaluation of the whole seminar was 80% good.
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This month KELC held a church-wide Youth Rally in Malindi from August 24th to the 27th. Over 300 young people from all over KELC attended the rally. The theme was based on the Bible verse from Hebrews 12:14, which says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Over the course of the 4 days, the young people sang, worshiped, learned, and lived together. The rally was held at a secondary school in Malindi, which could accommodate all the youth for sleeping, eating, and gathering for the seminar sessions.
In keeping with the theme of pursuing peace, many of the seminar sessions focused on creating and maintaining peaceful communities. Radicalization and extremism are affecting many communities in Kenya. The youth reported conflicts between tribes, religions, and political groups within their communities. Together they learned how to recognize and resist radicalization. As Kenya enters into a national election next year, it is vital for young people to recognize their role in maintaining peace. After the discussions and presentations, the participants reported they felt more equipped to see signs of radicalization and extremism, and they are prepared to work against these negative forces.
On the last evening, the youth relaxed and had fun by holding a talent showcase. There were many performances of singing and dancing, and the night ended with the selection of Mr. and Miss KELC- 2016.
We are grateful to God for this wonderful event and for all the dedicated youth of our church. We pray the youth will return to their congregations with refreshed and renewed energy and that they will continue the discussions started at the Youth Rally.