Kings Family CMS Link Letter 8, Mar 1988

by Graham Kings

Date added: 29/12/2023

“We can open the secretarial course in January” said the Bishop, last October.

“Well,” I said cautiously, “I think we’ll need till April to set it up, raise the money, buy the desks and typewriters, interview the candidates and …”

“Let’s try for January”, he replied.

So, on 12 January, the secretarial students arrived with the other students. On the 15th, after a week’s orientation, the course was officially opened by the Bishop, and on the 16th 11 typewriters turned up. They had been bought in faith (on tick!) and just before half term we heard the good news that Tearfund had agreed to the grant that we had applied for.

Pam Wilding is the course Director and honorary aunt to Rosalind, Miriam and Katie. She is a CMS mission partner who has been in East Africa since 1967 and has set up secretarial colleges in Kisumu (Western Kenya), Mombasa (on the Coast) and Dodoma (in Tanzania). We also have two new members of the theological staff: Rev Moses Mwangi is now Director of Academic Studies and Rev Edward Karani is the Director of Pastoral Studies.

With the new course, and the first-year intake in January, we have a record number of students. For the first time we have three simultaneous years of theological students with a total of 51 (41 men and 10 women). There are also 17 community health workers in training (14 men and 3 women) and 11 secretarial students (all women). These three courses are integrated in their studies: e.g. the third-year theological syllabus includes community health, amongst other development studies, and typing, and the secretarial syllabus includes periods on biblical studies, pastoral counselling, and evangelism.

“But, Bishop, where are they all going to live?”

“We’ll find a way to fit them in.”

A condemned stone building on the primary school site behind the Institute was completely renovated in six weeks over the Christmas vacation and the Principal’s house (while he is studying at Yale in the States) now accommodates the secretarial students, until we can build an extra ladies’ dormitory.

The last six weeks have been pretty hectic. On top of regular teaching, there have been four sets of visitors who have underlined the Institute’s concerns for theology, mission, international partnership and development.

First, Gerald and Gwen Collier from Durham. They are in their 70s and Gerald is a former Principal of Bede (teacher training) College, Durham University. The Christian publishers SPCK had commissioned him to write a book on methods of theological education and they wanted him to have some field experience in Africa before publishing it. I was asked to coordinate their six-week visit to Kenya and arranged for them to stay in various diocesan Bible Institutes, as well as at St Paul’s United Theological College, Limuru, and to lead a week’s conference for theological tutors.

They were marvellous and adapted with great humour to Africa. One night, while staying near Lake Victoria, they were awoken by a loud thumping noise on the walls of their house. In the morning, the college principal explained that the noise had been made by hippopotamuses! Gerald’s ideas are fascinating. He stresses the advantages of ‘peer group learning’ (i.e. students learning from each other as they work on theological projects together) and we have already adapted some of our teaching methods here. He is now going to re-write much of the book in the light of his experience in Kenya.

Second, we had Dr and Mrs Walter Arnold and Mr and Mrs Albrecht Hauser from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Wuerttemberg. This German church has a great history of deep involvement in mission. In fact, the first missionaries to land in Kenya in 1844 were from this denomination and were sponsored by CMS. They have been generous partners to our Diocese and one of our clergyman is currently a missionary working in their churches, sharing the African joy of the gospel in secularized West Germany.

Third, the Provincial Partners in Mission Consultation. This lasted for two weeks with 25 external partners coming to Kenya from all over the world. The first week they spent in pairs in the 12 dioceses and the second here at Kabare, during half term, where they were joined by 63 Kenyans (internal partners) from all over the Province. The process of open discussion between internal and external partners, and of ‘speaking the truth in love’ about the various priorities that had been set for the next five years, proved to be very illuminating. Each morning began with a service of Holy Communion, which used the new liturgy written by the staff and students here. Its interesting Christianising of African traditional prayers has been enthusiastically reviewed by News of Liturgy (October 1987) and Colin Buchanan is including the eucharistic prayer in his next book.

The day the consultation finished, our fourth set of visitors arrived to consider the feasibility of setting up a Christian Centre for Development Studies in East Africa at Kabare. Vinay Samuel (India) and Chris Sugden (England) and David Bussau (Australia) met with a group of us from the diocese, who had been doing our own groundwork, to produce plans for the centre, which will be built on the land behind the Institute. This was very exciting and a time frame for preparation and building was drawn up during those three days. The Diocesan Director of Development, Rev Josphat Mugweru, will be the director of the new centre and is already on study leave starting his PhD in Development Studies at the University of East Anglia.

After leaving Vinay, Chris and David with the Bishop in Embu, I returned to Kabare, where the theological students were in the middle of a two-day development course, to find that Gerald and Gwen Collier had arrived five minutes beforehand for their final evaluation week. So, we had turned the full circle. Phew! This partly explains the delay in writing, and the length of this link letter.

As you can imagine, during the last six weeks Alison’s teaching of Rosalind and Miriam has been rather curtailed and the sleeping pattern of the children (and parents) somewhat disturbed. Katie, now nearly one, still wakes two or three times in the night. Before Christmas, we all had a wonderful few days staying with the family of one of our theological students, Benjamin Mutia, and Rosalind distinguished herself with her energetic grinding of maize. After Christmas, we had four days at Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley with Alison’s brother and family who were visiting us. It was great to have time with Nick, Suzie and Rachel.

We would value your prayers for us, for the new members of staff, and for the plans for the future. Particularly, it would be good to pray for the impact of Bishop Gitari’s new book of sermons, concerning justice in Kenyan society. The election of MPs to Parliament, in this one-party state, will be on 21st March.

The following is a poem for Easter, which I have based on Luke 9.23-4 and 1 Corinthians 15.20.

Lord Jesus Christ,

we follow in your trail,

   blazing through life;

we sail in your wake,

   surging through death;

we are your body,

   you are our head;

ablaze with life,

   awake from the dead.

With all our love and thanks and prayers.

 

 

 

 
Graham Kings

Graham Kings

 
 
Wood panel

Wood panel

Interweavings

A bronze