The regional Seventh Day Adventist Church leaders have blamed the Nairobi Central congregation’s woes on an aborted leadership selection exercise.
The SDA Central Kenya Conference Executive Director John Ngunyi said the nominations process has been ongoing for the last 10 months.
The church runs a two-year nomination process according to its manual.
The church leaders who spoke to the press yesterday said they were forced to expel 15 members after they attempting to unlawfully eject the resident pastor Pierre Masaai Mayua.
The 15 were also accused of disrespecting the resident pastor.
“The process was being undertaken by a nomination committee which is the final committee. It has the mandate to discuss names, vote, write to individuals to accept or decline the nominations and read the names,” Mayua said.
Mayua told journalists about the protracted differences with the 15 now expelled faithful.
The group includes Sammy Masara, Enock Kinara, Humphrey Nguma, Wilfred Ndolo, Geoffrey Asanyo, Henry Osinde, Gerald Kireki and Zipporah Mokua.
Others are Ebby Mokaya, Jerry Magutu, Jones Agwata, Kepha Osoro, Geoffrey Nyamasege, Erick Magutu and Friday Kinara.
They were part of the church’s previous leadership.
Mayua said that they attempted to eject him from office when he was away on official duty in Siaya county in late 2018.
“During the last two weeks of November and early December in 2018, we went to preach in Siaya County where 276 people gave themselves for baptism,” he said.
However, some elders met at Nairobi Central SDA Church at the same time and passed a vote of no confidence against me, Mayua said.
“I am an employee of the conference, not the church. They have no rights to discuss us and instead should raise their issue with the conference’s president,” he said.
Mayua on his return found that some of the elders at the church had tried to protect him from his ouster but they failed.
“On February 9, I found a letter that read ‘You are no longer our pastor and the nominations are cancelled’,” he said.
Mwayua protested the letter and told the group that he was still the legitimate pastor.
He later went for instructions from the conference committee on the matter.
“They were told to bring a team of seven elders out 84. They were advised to return to the church and follow the right procedure,” he said.
The team had complained about a flawed nomination process. The rebels then boycotted departmental nominations of the church.
Mayua said that they went ahead with the nominations as planned in four departments since they had the required quorum.
“Former head elder asked them to reject the names, the nominations were cancelled, pastors recalled at end of the service,” he said.
The church’s offices were later on July 23 locked using chains and padlocks by five of the members.
The team claimed that police were informed of the incident but nothing happened.
The leaders condemned the church’s closure by Nairobi county commissioner Flora Mworoa terming it unconstitutional.
They claimed that the right procedure was not followed hence infringing their right to prayers.
They said that both the parties had had several meetings with the administrator, among other government officials and resolutions reached at.
“The same group of 15 came to disrupt the reading of the names by myself in church during a business meeting. The exercise, however, went on successfully, we took the vote. They went to court but the case was dismissed,” he said.
The team, however, registered the Nairobi Cosmopolitan Conference Limited (NCC) before their case’s ruling.
According to Ngunyi, the 15 members had on July 20 been called to defend themselves but they didn’t.
One of the leaders instead insulted Mayua leading to the meeting’s disruption.
The leaders threatened to move to court if the government fails to reopen the church.
Mayua maintained that it was the last option for them to remove names of the 15 rebels from their records.
“They circumvented the vote by bringing acrimony, the reason why I had to announce that they were no longer members,” he said.
Though there are claims that the wrangles could be along ethnic lines and a scramble to control millions collected at the church, the team maintained those allegations were farfetched.
The church’s leadership, they said, is drawn from all the communities across the country.