NOTES ON THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN KENYA

by Metropolitan Makarios (Tillyrides) of Kenya

 

The Orthodox Church in Kenya was established from the beginning of this century. First Greek emigrants brought the Orthodox faith to this country and then the Africans themselves discovered it and have embraced it since 1930.

The people of Kenya were officially accepted under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in 1946 and since then there has been a close relationship with the Apostolic See of St. Mark. Through the Patriarchate of Alexandria the Orthodox African people of Kenya are recognised internationally.

During the emergency period the Orthodox Church of Kenya played a leading part in the struggle for the Independence of the country. The Mau Mau movement had many leaders from the Orthodox faithful especially in Kiambu. It was during this time that Orthodox Schools and Churches were closed by the colonial government and many Orthodox priests were imprisoned.

In 1958, because of the rapid development of the Orthodox faith in East Africa, a Metropolitan was appointed to care for the Spiritual needs of the three East African countries. The name which was given by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria was the Holy Archbishopric of Irinoupolis which means the "City of Peace".

The late Archbishop and President of Cyprus Makarios III, a leading personality in the fight for the independence of his country was closely associated with the President and leader of the independence movement of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus, on the invitation of the Mzee Kenyatta visited Kenya and was given the warm welcome of a national hero. His love for the African Orthodox people of Kenya is evident through the construction of a Technical School and a Theological Seminary for the education of the African people. The African Orthodox people of Kenya owe their spiritual growth in the Orthodox faith to the great generosity of the late Archbishop Makarios. The Orthodox Patriarchal Seminary today serves not only the needs of the people of East Africa but of Western Africa also.

The African Orthodox Church of Kenya under the canonical jurisdiction of the Holy Archbishopric of Irinoupolis is the only legitimate Church in the country. Today through the generosity of the Orthodox people from abroad (Greece, Finland, America, Cyprus) the Orthodox Church in Kenya is making a great contribution to the social, economic and educational development of the country, Many Secondary Schools, Clinics, Nursery Schools and hospitals are to be found throughout the country and hundreds of Scholarships are given to children of Kenya for their educational needs. The number of Orthodox faithful in Kenya is increasing daily and is estimated today at around 300,000 souls.

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