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Offended Christians, Anti-Mission Churches and Colonial Politics: One Man’s Story of the Messy Birth of the African Orthodox Church in Kenya

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Abstract Thomas Nganda Wangai’s personal account of the beginnings of the Orthodox Church in Kenya gives a first-hand narrative of the Kikuyu resistance to mission Christianity and mission-imposed education that led to the break with the mission churches and colonial-approved mission schools. The subsequent creation of the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association and the Kikuyu Karing’a Education Association as well as independent churches attempted to create a new identity outside the mission church establishment in colonial Kenya. This desire to remain Christian while throwing off the yoke of Western versions of Christianity led Nganda and other early leaders to seek out a nonmission form of Christianity that reflected the ancient purity of the early church. Nganda tells the story of how a schismatic archbishop of the African Orthodox Church provided the initial leadership for the nascent Orthodox movement. Nganda charts the interrelatedness of the search for an ecclesiastical identity and the decision to align with the Alexandrian Patriarchate and the growing political conflict with the Kenyan colonial authorities. The paper concludes with Nganda’s description of the Orthodox Church’s response to the declaration of Emergency in 1953, along with the hardship and suffering that the subsequent ten years of proscription imposed.

Affiliations: 1: PO Box 24686 Karen 00502 Kenya josephwmblack@gmail.com

10.1163/15700666-12341257
/content/journals/10.1163/15700666-12341257
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/content/journals/10.1163/15700666-12341257
2013-01-01
2016-12-10

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