Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links

At the Lambeth Conference in 1978 the then bishops of Chelmsford, Mount Kenya East and Trinidad & Tobago met and through their friendship established inter-diocesan links that have continued ever since. The two links have developed very differently, although both include mutual-concern, friendship, prayer and reciprocal visits.

This summary focuses on our partnerships with Kenya which have enabled mutual support and learning as a result of the rapid expansion of the church combined with periods of extreme need. The Mount Kenya East region now has five dioceses of different size and with varying resources. We have tried to adapt our partnership to work appropriately with each diocese and to support the region as a whole through their shared theological college and development agency.

Our partnership is not based on money but we have been able to help in small pump-priming ways to enable our partner dioceses to develop their local priorities. Over the years these have included such diverse needs as: work with street-children, farmers, church building, water pumps, motorbikes for archdeacons, health care, a school for the deaf, community development, theological education and leadership training.

As well as the diocesan-level engagement, there are now more focused links involving individuals, parishes, the cathedrals, youth groups and about 30 schools. We are routinely present at each other’s major events and as a visible sign of the importance of the world church, a Kenyan bishop takes part in the Ordination of Deacons in Chelmsford each year.

Our Kenyan partners are very generous in their hospitality to visitors and we have learned so much from our exchanges – not least the importance of place and community, the ability to be generous, grateful and hopeful in all circumstances, their absolute dependence on God and taking nothing for granted.

A two-week educational visit to Kenya is now a standard part of our Curate training. This opportunity to experience discipleship, ministry and mission in a different culture where faith is explicit in the public square has been life and ministry transforming for many. In 2014, a group of Kenyans came to work alongside our parishes with local mission initiatives.

Our 2016 Lent Appeal will focus on raising funds for a hospital and in Kenya. A sponsored walk is taking place and the idea for this came from the fact their recent visit and  participation in our annual Bradwell Pilgrimage.

The development of international links requires the investment of energy over a long period by a consistent group of people in order to survive the inevitable changes in episcopal leadership and in the midst of the various tensions in the Anglican Communion. But the rewards are enormous. Our diocesan life in Chelmsford and my own ministry has been enriched in ways I could not have imagined. I am personally grateful for the relationships we have in Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, and with our ecumenical partners in Europe. The Body of Christ in all its diversity and beauty has become more real, and upholding the unity of the church more important.

+Stephen

  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links
  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links
  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links
  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links
  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links
  • Diocese of Chelmsford Anglican Communion Links

Kenya

A brief history of the Chelmsford - Kenya Companionship Link

In the beginning… The 1968 Lambeth Conference took up the concept of Partners in Mission from the Anglican Consultative Council, which saw the mission of God to the whole world as something not simply local but also shared by the world-wide church. Dioceses in the developed world were encouraged to make long-term relationships with specific dioceses in the developing world, consulting with them on their priorities and sharing resources.

In 1978 this process led to the linking of the Diocese of Chelmsford both with the Diocese of Mount Kenya East and with the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. The Kenya link was inaugurated with an official diocesan group visit in 1979.

New Dioceses

Mount Kenya East had as its bishop Dr David Gitari and was based with its cathedral in the provincial centre of Embu. The Diocese of Mount Kenya East divided into the dioceses of Kirinyaga and Embu, and later the Mbeere part of the Diocese of Embu and the Meru part of Kirinyaga became independent. In 1997 David Gitari became Archbishop of Kenya, and was succeeded in Kirinyaga by Daniel Munene Ngoru. Kirinyaga is the largest of our link dioceses with Embu a close second. Both are financially self-sufficient. Meru and Mbeere are much smaller and less prosperous, partly because they cover areas traditionally associated with Methodists and Catholics respectively.

Major Contacts and Projects

  • Gift of windows to Embu Cathedral by Chelmsford Cathedral (1988)
  • Building of the library and chapel at St Andrew’s College, Kabare (Bishop’s 1% Christmas Appeal 1990 and Lent Appeal 1992). Various appeals have continued development of the library, with the 2010 Lent Appeal focussed on providing IT and Internet support.
  • Bishop John Perry invited to preach and conduct the retreat for the consecration of Bishop Daniel Munene Ngoru as Bishop of Kirinyaga (November 1997)
  • Linkage of the Chelmsford Mothers’ Union with the diocese of Meru for prayer and encouragement
  • World Church Weekend with three of the Kenyan bishops before Lambeth Conference 1998
  • Land Rover for Bishop of Kirinyaga and furniture for Diocesan Offices in Meru (Bishop’s Lent Appeal 1999)
  • Familiarisation visit by 21 people to the Dioceses of Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru and Mbeere (October 2000)
  • Bishop Daniel attended Clergy Leadership Programme in UK in 2001. Two Clergy Leadership Programmes have been run in Kenya largely at Chelmsford’s expense in 2002 and 2003.
  • Representatives from Kenya attended our Diocesan Conference in 2002.
  • The four bishops attended John Gladwin’s Installation as Bishop in 2004 and the formal agreement to continue the Companionship Link between the dioceses was signed on 18 January 2004 in Barking Abbey.
  • The first group of Curates visited Kenya with Bishop John Gladwin in 2006. Further curate visits took place in 2008 and 2011. The next is planned in October 2013.
  • The bishops came to Chelmsford in July 2008 prior to the Lambeth Conference to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the link. Roger Matthews, Wendy Littlejohns and a small group visited Kenya in 2009 to participate in their celebrations and agree the basis for the link to continue.
  • Four phases of school links involving nearly 30 schools have started since 2007 with the Dioceses of Kirinyaga, Embu and Mbeere.
  • There are a small but growing number of parish-to-parish links
  • Various individuals and groups support street children projects in all our link dioceses.
  • The diocese was represented at the 2010 Centenary Celebrations in Kirinyaga and Embu to mark the arrival of the first CMS missionaries in 1910.
  • The five bishops attended Bishop Stephen’s Installation service in Chelmsford and he made his first visit to Kenya in October 2011, when the latest Agreement was signed.

The new bishop of Kirinyaga, Bishop Joseph, was consecrated and enthroned in a 5-hour service at St Thomas Cathedral, Kerugoya led by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Kenya, The Rt Revd Eliud Wabukala on Sunday 9 December 2012. Bishop Joseph Karimi Kibucwa, 46, had previously served in the diocese as Provost of the Cathedral and as the Diocesan Development Officer. He is married to Mary and has three children. Bishop Joseph studied theology at St Andrew’s College, Kabare (where the Diocese of Chelmsford has strong links through the provision of library and chapel facilities) and St Paul’s University in Limuru.

Bishop Joseph has yet to visit the UK. We hope to welcome him to the Chelmsford diocese soon.

  • Kenya
  • Kenya
  • Kenya
  • Kenya
  • Kenya
  • Kenya