Reorganization of the Denomination in Kenya Leads to Intervention by Authorities
December 23, 2016: The Adventist denomination’s reorganization of a union conference in Kenya has been found to be illegal and the Attorney General has ordered a new constituency meeting by January 11, 2017. The Star national newspaper reported that the constitution of the East African Union was violated when it was divided into two new union conferences a few years ago.
Kenya’s Daily Nation reported that the latest episode of internal conflict hit the denomination when church members informed the Registrar of Societies of a constituency meeting slated to be held in Nairobi on September 20. Two church members identified by Kenyan news media are Geoffrey Asanyo and Charles Maranga, both local elders in congregations in Nairobi. Asanyo is a prominent businessman in Kenya, the managing director of Kwanza Estates, a real estate development company. Maranga has taught accounting in a university and is director of human resources for the KCB Group.
They requested clarification on whether Kenyan Adventist leadership was recognized by law. The Kenyan Registrar of Societies said that the convener of the meeting was not properly registered and that the outcome of the meeting would not be officially recognized.
The reason the denomination was not legally recognized was a 2012 reorganization of the Adventist Church in Kenya. In the restructuring, the East African Union was renamed the Kenya Union Mission. It was then divided into the East Kenya Union Conference (EKUC) and West Kenya Union Conference (WKUC). The two union conferences had constituency meetings to elect officers in September 2015.
The legal problem reported by the Registrar of Societies resulted from the fact that the two union conferences were never recognized legally. The registrar therefore ruled that current administrators are in office illegally.
Commenting on the irregularities, the registrar wrote, “We have observed that the Seventh Day Adventist Church East Africa Union does not have office bearers and is in contravention of its constitution.” The denomination was ordered hold a constituency meeting to change its constitution and hold new elections within 60 days.
Adventist leaders complied on November 21 by calling a December 6 meeting. However, Asanyo wrote the registrar raising further legal problems, causing it to be postponed.
Several individuals have posted comments on The Star web site about this story, most of whom say they are Adventists who are concerned about the developments. “We do not need the heathen to direct us on how to do our matters,” wrote Micah Asamba. Others were critical of denominational leaders. “This kind of stuff simply drives people away,” stated Proby Robby.
There were more than a million Adventists in Kenya, when unbaptized small children are included in the count. The Adventist University of Africa is located in Nairobi and the Adventist University of East Africa in Eldoret.
The featured photo is of the office of the East Kenya Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Nairobi.