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A handbook of councils and churches profiles of ecumenical relationships

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Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church*

Church Family: Lutheran

Membership: 30,000

Parishes: 8

Pastors: 18

Evangelists: 17

Deacons: 3

Member of: WCC (1995) – AACC – NCCK – LWF

Periodical: Mjumbe (in Swahili)

The Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church was formerly known as the Kenya Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. The church owes its ori­gins to the work that German and Swedish Lutheran missionaries started prior to the first world war, in the former German colony of Tanganyika. They left the area in the early 1940s. Lutheran services were established in 1965 in Nairobi and Mombasa at the request of Tanzanian members of the ELCT working in Kenya. The ELCT-Kenya synod was officially registered in Kenya in 1968. The work expanded over a much wider area and steps were taken to become autonomous. In 1989 the Kenya synod was given permission to register as an independent entity. It was officially inaugurated as the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC) in 1992. The church currently has nine mission areas in Kenya. In addi­tion to the pastors, evangelists and deacons, it employs ten parish workers. It is in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangeli­cal Lutheran Church in Bavaria and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Elbia (both in Germany), and with the ELCT.

Methodist Church in Kenya

Church Family: Methodist

Membership: 450,000
Synods: 10
Circuits: 106
Congregations: 919
Pastors: 357
Member of: WCC (1968) – AACC – NCCK – WMC
Periodical: Methodist Digest (in English)
The British Methodist Church entered Kenya in 1862 through the work of the then United Methodist Free Church. It started at Ribe station which was the base from where the mission was launched. Today the work is concentrated in several of the main areas of the country as well as in Uganda and Tanzania. The church has ministers from almost all the ethnic groups and currently a Masai bishop is in charge of Western Kenya synod. The church became autonomous in 1967. Mem­bership at that time stood at about 8,000. Recent statistics show a growth rate of

7.8 percent. This points to a great need of pastors to care for the members of the church and to look after the mission areas in Tanzania and Uganda. Membership is growing faster than the number of ministers. The church sponsors over 140 schools, one main hospital, ten clinics, three agricultural training centres, fif­teen youth polytechnics, the Kenya Methodist University and two guest houses. It also shares with other churches in St Pauls United Theological College at Limuru, near Nairobi.

The vision of the Methodist Church in Kenya is to know Jesus Christ and to make him known. The doctrinal standards are those of the Methodist tradition:

a) The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apos­tolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.

b) The doctrine of the evangelical faith, which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds, is based upon the divine revelation recorded in the holy scriptures.

c) Christ’s ministers in the church are stewards in the household of God and shepherds of his flock.

d) It is the universal conviction of the Methodist people that the office of the Christian ministry depends upon the call of God who bestows the gifts of the spirit, the grace and the fruit, which indicate those whom he has chosen.

e) Those whom the Methodist Church recognizes as called of God and therefore received into its ministry shall be ordained by the imposition of hands as expression of the church’s recognition of the minister’s personal call.

f) The Methodist Church holds the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

g) Preachers itinerant and lay are examined, tested and approved before they are authorized to minister in the holy things. For the sake of church order and not because of any priestly virtue inherent in the office, the ministers of the


Methodist Church are set apart by ordination to the ministry of the word and

sacraments. h) The Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments namely: baptism and the

Lord’s supper as of divine appointment and of perpetual obligation of which

it is the privilege and duty of members of the Methodist Church to avail them­


The mission of the church is to respond in obedience to the divine call of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to proclaim the holistic gospel in word and deed in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Currently the Methodist Church in Kenya is plan­ning to evangelize in Southern Sudan, in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Presbyterian Church of East Africa

Church Family: Reformed

Membership: 4,000,000

Parishes : 310

Pastors: 450

Member of: WCC (1957) – AACC – NCCK – WARC – ARCA


The Presbyterian Church of East Africa grew out of the work of the Church of Scotland. In 1891, the first missionaries settled at Kibwezi, some 250 km from Mombasa. Later it was decided to continue further inland to Thogoto, from where the Presbyterian Church spread out. The first Kikuyu convert was baptized in 1907. In 1910 there were 53 Christians. The number rose to 5,369 by 1929. Shortly after, there was a division in the church arising from disagreements on the question of female circumcision: some felt that the practice was medically wrong and therefore the church should discourage it; others, who felt that the issue had nothing to do with the church, broke away to form their own schools and churches. From 1908, the Church of Scotland began to take a greater interest in the many Scots scattered all over Kenya as settlers and government officials. For a long time the two wings, European and African, were one church but they separated in 1936. In 1956, they came together again and formed one general assembly. Since 1935, the church’s pastors have been trained at St Paul’s United Theological College along with Methodists and Anglicans. The church has a lay training centre at Kikuyu.

The PCEA has been playing an important role in Kenya. It pioneered in edu­cation and medical work. It founded the first hospital in the country. It now main­tains three hospitals and several health centres, two schools for deaf children, a home for old people and a home for destitute children. It sponsors 700 schools, both primary and secondary. The church participates in nation-building and operates several projects such as community centres, rural development projects, centres for weaving, homecraft, secretarial training for girls, HIV/AIDS control programmes, relief efforts and refugees.

In spite of its meagre resources and paucity of personnel, the church faces the future with confidence. Among its primary concerns are: seeking a still greater role in the political life of society, the better training of pastors and lay people, the reaching of the unreached tribes with the gospel, the preparation of youth for the future and the search for ways and means to make the church self-supporting.

The PCEA maintains relations with the Church of Scotland, the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Reformed Church of America and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.


Population: 1,800,000

Surface area: 30,350
Capital: Maseru
GNI per capita: 1,431 US$
Classification: Least developed country
Languages: Sesotho, English, other
Religions: Christian 91%; African traditional 8%
Christianity: Catholics 900,000; Protestants 302,560; Anglicans 110,000;

Independent 254,060

Lesotho came into being as a kingdom in the 19th century, when the Basotho leader Moshoeshoe I resisted the attacks of the Zulu empire. It became a British protectorate in 1864, at the request of the king, to avoid being taken over by the white Afrikaners. Called Basutoland, the kingdom recovered its independence in 1966 under the name Lesotho. It is a mountainous country, entirely surrounded by South Africa. From 1986 onwards, it was governed by the military who coop­erated with apartheid South Africa and sent the king into exile. In 1993, it became a democratic constitutional monarchy. Economically, Lesotho has been dependent on the employment of its workforce in South Africa’s mining industry. A local manufacturing industry is developing, compensating for the decrease of employ­ment opportunities in the mines. The Catholic Church is the majority church in Lesotho, and is a member of the Christian Council, which is the ecumenical body. Besides the Lesotho Evangelical Church, which is the largest Protestant church, other WCC members include two Methodist churches, which belong to the African Methodist Episcopal Church (USA) and the Methodist Church of South­ern Africa, and the Anglicans who are part of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. There are several African Instituted and Pentecostal churches.

Christian Council of Lesotho

Founded in 1965.

Basis: To be a member a church must confess the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ as the Saviour, and the only Savoiur according to the scriptures.

Mission statement: The Council exists for the renewal and empowerment of the local church as an agent of reconciliation within the church and society, in the reign of God. It also exists as the voice of the voiceless, the poor and the marginalized.

Member churches:

Anglican Church in Lesotho
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Lesotho Evangelical Church
Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Roman Catholic Church

Associate member: Student Christian Movement

The CCL is organized in eight regional committees: Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, and Thaba-Tseka Regional Committee.


Lesotho Evangelical Church

Church Family: Reformed

Membership: 340,500

Parishes: 107

Pastors: 64

Member of: WCC (1965) – AACC – CCL – WARC – ARCA – Cevaa

Periodical: Leselinyana la Lesotho (fortnightly newspaper, in Sesotho)

The Lesotho Evangelical Church traces its origins back to the work of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society which began in 1833. The LEC became autonomous in 1964 under Basotho leadership. Like other parts of the body of Christ, the church preaches the good news of salvation that comes from God through his only Son Jesus Christ, who was crucified and risen from the dead, who sits at the right hand of God the Father, from where he shall come to judge the living and the dead in the fullness of time. The church seeks to carry out its mission through the preaching of the word of God, the publication of its newspa­per, Radio Lesotho, and other appropriate ways. With its limited means, the LEC tries to express its obedience to the Lord through medical and educational ser­vices. It has two hospitals which are involved in primary health care, and a centre for the rehabilitation of alcoholics. The church runs 500 primary and 75 post-primary schools. Other departments of the LEC include a lay training service, a printing press and book depot (at Morija, established in 1863), youth work, guid­ance and counselling (on family and social matters). A planning commission gath­ers and identifies the critical ministry issues and opportunities from the various boards and other commissions of the church and advises the synod. The women’s desk was established in 1988. A department of justice, peace, integrity of creation and ecumenical relations was set up in 1991 to provide leadership, communica­tion and education on JPIC and ecumenical issues. The LEC has a museum (the only one in the country) and archives which are an important resource for stu­dents from different faculties. Pastors are trained at the theological seminary founded in 1882, also at Morija.

The organization of the LEC is made up of church councils at the local level, parish councils (consistories), presbyteries and the national synod. At each level clergy and laity are represented, and the various commissions, departments and boards are also represented in the national synod. The church has a strong tradi­tion of ecumenical commitment and has followed a policy of joining in “a fellow­ship of conversation, mutual enrichment, common purpose and common action” with other churches and ecumenical bodies. It sees this fellowship as the best way to express the oneness of the church.


Population: 3,602,847

Surface area: 111,400

Capital: Monrovia

GNI per capita: 110 US$

Classification: Least developed country

Languages: English, other

Religions: African traditional 43%; Christian 40%; Muslim 16%

Christianity: Protestants 439,200; Catholics 161,885; Anglicans 34,000;

Independent 562,000

Liberia was founded in the early 19th century by the American Colonization Society, for liberated slaves returning from the USA. The territory was inhabited by the Mandingo and other groups. During the 1930s, it was discovered that slav­ery continued in Liberia, leading to a new American-Liberian government that abolished slavery, but continued to withhold rights from the indigenous peoples. It was overthrown in 1980 in a bloody coup, which brought into power a corrupt regime. From 1989 to 2003 Liberia was devastated by a civil war. Many people were killed, others were displaced or fled to neighbouring countries, and the econ­omy was destroyed. A transitional government was formed in 2003, for a period of two years, and a UN mission put in place. Liberia’s economy was mainly based on the production and export of timber and rubber, and farming. In 2005, recov­ery was still slow, and the security situation remained difficult. The main Protes­tant churches in Liberia are the Methodists, the Lutherans, and the Baptists. There are also some large Pentecostal and indigenous churches. Besides the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, the Methodists (part of the United Methodist Church), the Church of the Lord (Aladura, headquartered in Nigeria), and the Anglicans (part of the Province of West Africa) are WCC members. The churches have played an important role in peace and rehabilitation, through the Liberian Council of Churches, and in inter-faith cooperation with the Muslim community. The Association of Evangelicals of Liberia is affiliated with the WEA.

*Liberian Council of Churches

Founded in 1982.

Basis: To be a member a church must confess faith in the blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, faith in Jesus Christ, true God, true Man, as Lord and Sav­iour in whom is the fullness of revelation, faith in the unity of the church as the Body of Christ, and faith in the Bible as the inspired word of God.

Mission statement: to realize its vision, the Liberian Council of Churches shall unite, empower, reconcile and group its constituencies through strategic networks and alliances as well as cooperate with national and international ecumenical bodies and governments.

Member churches:

African Methodist Episcopal Church

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Catholic Church in Liberia

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Church of the Lord (Aladura)

Don Stewart Christ Pentecostal church

Episcopal Church in Liberia

Liberia Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention

Lutheran Church in Liberia

Pentecostal Assemblies of the World

Presbyterian Church of Liberia

United Methodist Church

Associate member churches:

Little White Chapel

New Apostolic Church

Redeemed Fellowship International Church

Three Brothers Ministries of Faith Church

United Church of God in Christ

United Pentecostal Churches of Christ


Fraternal members (organizations): Christian Association of the Blind Christian Awareness Counseling Center Christian Health Association of Liberia Christian Media Center Concerned Christian Community Ecumenical Women Organization of Liberia Evangelical Children Rehabilitation Programme National Grassroot Pastors’ Association of Liberia Universal School of Health/ Christian Religion Young Men’s Christian Association of Liberia Young Women’s Christian Association of Liberia

Lutheran Church in Liberia

Church Family: Lutheran

Membership: 71,196
Congregations: 350
Bishops: 1
Pastors: 85
Member of: WCC (1968) – AACC – LCC – LWF
Lutheran work began in Liberia in 1860 by missionaries of the former Lutheran Church in America (now ELCA). The mission advanced slowly in the early years, but recently the church has been growing rapidly. Over the last twenty years membership has almost tripled. It has spread from among the Kpelle and Lorma-speaking people to other groups in Liberia. The Lutheran Church in Liberia became fully autonomous in 1965. Its organization combines congrega­tional, episcopal and synodal features. The constitution, which was revised in 1997 and 1999, provides for a balance of local responsibility and common action. The LCL urban ministry that began in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, is very vital and has spread to central Liberia. The lay training programme at the Lay Training Centre is also important and is providing lay leaders, deacons and evan­gelists of the church. The church runs a few schools and two hospitals. Future pastors are formed at the Gbarnga School of Theology, which is a joint venture with the Methodist and Episcopalian churches.

The goal of the LCL was to make central and parish administration self-sup-porting by 1992. However, due to the 14 years of devastating civil war, this goal was not achieved. The church is now in the process of trauma-healing, peace-building and reconciliation. This is a new programme that is known throughout Liberia. It also has an HIV/AIDS programme, which was established a few years ago.

Presbyterian Church of Liberia*

Church Family: Reformed

Membership: 1,083
Congregations: 13
Pastors: 12
Member of: WCC (1969) – AACC – LCC – WARC – ARCA
The beginning of the evangelization process by the church and the founding of Liberia by the American Colonization Society (ACS) went hand in hand. While the ACS focused on the generation of funds to repatriate Africans to their native land, the church concentrated on the raising of resources to begin evangelizing among the indigenous people who continued to inhabit the land now identified as the future home of those repatriated. The First Presbyterian Church was estab­lished in Liberia in 1833, by a pastor who later became Associate Justice of Liberia. Under the auspices of the Western Foreign Missionary Society the first Presbyterian missionary arrived in 1834 and started the first Presbyterian missionary work in the country. In 1837, the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, successor of the Western Missionary Society, took over the mission in Liberia. Twelve years later the church established the Alexander High School in Monrovia, which was later moved elsewhere for finan­cial reasons.

The impact on Liberia of the Presbyterian Church is demonstrated by the fact that a significant number of the independence and post-independence leaders were either leaders of the Presbyterian Church or educated at the Alexander High School. The fifth moderator of the PCL wrote in the late 1870s to his counterparts in the New York Presbytery: “In announcing the fact that I have been nominated by an almost unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees to the Presidency of Liberia College, I cannot help calling your attention to the influence which Presbyterian­ism has exerted and is still exerting in Liberia. All the leading men of the country are now either Presbyterians or have been educated by Presbyterians.”

The PCL has been actively involved together with the other churches in Liberia in the efforts to end the armed conflicts of recent years and continues to take part in reconciliation and care for the displaced and other victims, and in the building of a democratic society.


Population: 18,408,559

Surface area: 578,000

Capital: Antananarivo

GNI per capita: 300 US$

Classification: Least developed country

Languages: Malagasy, French

Religions: Christian 52%; Malagasy traditional 46%; Muslim 2%

Christianity: Protestants 5,637,000; Catholics 4,226,000; Anglicans 330,000;

Orthodox 23,200; Independent 828,520

Madagascar is the fourth island in the world by size. It was settled by people who had migrated from the Indonesian archipelago, probably in the 9th or 10th century. In the early 19th century a king established a monarchy covering most of the island, which lasted until France invaded Madagascar in 1895. Armed resis­tance went on for several years, especially in the south, and in the 1920s a move­ment of young intellectuals militated for political autonomy. In 1947 an uprising in the east of the island was crushed by the French, killing some 100,000 people. Madagascar became independent in 1960. The population consists of 18 ethnic groups, with marked differences between the central highlands and the coastal areas, but culturally close to each other and speaking one language. Politically the country has gone through several stages, from close cooperation with France to a socialist regime and strong nationalist orientations in the 1970s and ‘80s, and democratization in the 1990s. After a political crisis in 2001-02, a more liberal-minded government emerged. The economy is based on subsistence farming,


export of coffee and vanilla, and some manufacturing industry. The churches have played a major role in the formation of national identity, and since inde­pendence, in the political situation and the development of the country. The two large Protestant churches and the Catholic and Anglican churches have formed the Christian Council. Since the 1990s there has been an influx of Pentecostal, Charismatic and independent churches, which continue to grow.

*Council of Christian Churches in Madagascar

Founded in 1980.

Basis: To be a member a church must confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and only Saviour according to the scriptures.

Member churches: Catholic Church

Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar
Malagasy Episcopal Church (Anglican)
Malagasy Lutheran Church

Federation of Protestant Churches in Madagascar

Founded in 1958 (forerunner: the Missionary Conference, founded in 1913).

Basis: Mindful of their union with Jesus, King and Saviour, of their duty to spread the gospel, and of their communion with the universal church, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar and the Malagasy Lutheran Church work together in the Federation of Protestant Churches in Madagascar.

Member churches:

Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar
Malagasy Lutheran Church

The Federation of Protestant Churches in Madagascar is affiliated with the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches.

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