Bishop John Oringa of the missionary Diocese of Kisii, Kenya, was part of my small group at the Lambeth Conference, and the person with whom I had the most engaging discussions of ministry in our very different contexts. We share a mutual curiosity about what life, ministry, and following Jesus look like in Arizona and Kisii. We have continued to talk over Whatsapp about how our dioceses might join in a wider conversation and shared ministry, that the presence of Christ might be more fully known in each of our dioceses.
The photo above is from a gathering in Kisii where Bishop John was speaking to a huge crowd about how the Anglican Church opposes Female Genital Mutilation because there is no theological or biblical basis for it and because it violates the dignity of those who are cut. He reports that in his area of Kenya, even though FGM has been outlawed by the Kenyan government, 96% of girls still undergo the procedure, beginning when they are eight years old. A medical professional also spoke at this event about the horrific consequences of FGM to girls as they become women and bear children.
FGM is not a typical topic in our churches in Arizona, but I am so grateful that the Anglican Church in Kenya is speaking out about this practice. My prayer is that the church may be an agent of liberation to women—and others—and I long to be part of that, and to support that work of liberation wherever it comes.
After some conversation about how and in what ways we might test the waters for supporting one another, Bishop John and I settled on clergy salaries. There are 15 priests in the Diocese of Kisii, and most of them go unpaid because their region is so poor. He believes that if his priests were paid, they would be able to be more effective evangelists and pastors (I believe this too, in our context!). Bishop John told me that a good salary for a priest in his diocese would be 20,000 Kenyan Shillings per month, which is about $160.
I believe the Diocese of Arizona can help pay the salaries of the clergy of Kisii this year. If you’d like to support a priest for a month (or more) you can make a donation on the diocesan website, choosing “Kenya Clergy Support” from the menu.
Finally, I spoke with Bishop John about the possibility of visiting with a small group of people from Arizona, sometime in June or July of 2023. He is eager to show us hospitality, and this visit could form the basis for a future and deeper relationship. If you might have the interest and capacity to join this trip, which would include covering your own expenses, please email Serrena Fuentes at email@example.com so we can determine the level of interest.
I want to be clear that this relationship is not in lieu of, or in competition with, our relationship with our Companion Diocese of Western Mexico. I believe Bishop Gomez will be at our Diocesan Convention this year, and the parish-to-parish relationships are getting off the ground. We share a border, ministry, language, and future. And there is always room for more love and more relationship.