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Kenya

The UMFC mission, inspired by the travels of a German missionary, J.L. Krapf, began with the arrival of Thomas Wakefield in 1862 and was concentrated for fifty years around Mombasa and its hinterland. Both he and his colleague Charles New travelled extensively and had articles published by the Royal Geographical Society. After New’s death in 1875, the mission was reinforced by W.T. During of Sierra Leone, who, with two Kenyan converts, established a base at Golbanti, near the Tana River. There in 1886 John and Annie Houghton were murdered by a Maasai raiding party. Wakefield returned to England in 1887 and was succeeded by Thomas Carthew, who established colonies for ransomed slaves and administered them strictly.

From 1911 John B. Griffiths, joined by Reginald T. Worthington in 1913, together with Kenyan Christians from the coast, pioneered work at Kaaga in the foothills of Mount Kenya with increasing results among the Meru people. On his death in 1934, he was succeeded as Chairman by A.J. Hopkins, who served in Kenya for 28 years and initiated a Meru translation of the Bible completed in 1965 during his retirement.

A hospital was opened at Maua in 1930 and another at Ngao on the Tana River in 1950 A little school for severely disabled polio victims opened in Mombasa in1965, and grew into the Port Reitz School for the Physically Handicapped, and a School for Deaf Children was started in Kaaga in 1966.

Methodist Church Kenya became an autonomous Conference in 1967. Subsequently there were new evangelistic initiatives in the fast growing capital Nairobi, among the Maasai people and also in Tanzania and Uganda. Church Union negotiations in the 1960s foundered but ecumenical ministerial training was instituted at St Paul's Theological College, Limuru. The Kenya Methodist University in Meru, fruit of a long educational tradition, opened in 1998 and by 2010 numbered 4,000 students in nineteen departments with three hundred staff; the Meru campus was much enlarged and adjunct campuses opened in Nairobi and Mombasa.

In 1956 a membership of 3,200, with a community roll of 7,500 was reported; by 2002 these totals had risen to 312,000 and 800,000 respectively.

Sources

  • Arthur J. Hopkins, ‘Trail Blazers and Road Makers: a brief history of the East Africa Mission of the United Methodist Church’ (1928)
  • Z.J. Nthamburi, A History of the Methodist Church in Kenya (1982)
  • Methodist Recorder, 24 and 31 August, 2 November 2012

Entry written by: JRP
Category: Place

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