By: Fadhili Mwambingu
On Wednesday 4th August 2021, Voi Church Forum members held an ecumenical forum at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in Voi Taita-Taveta County.
The meeting was planned by the executive of Voi Church Forum and was facilitated by Interreligious Dialogue Commission and there were a total of twelve participants drawn from various Christian churches within Voi Sub-County.
In attendance was Bishop Edward Mwamburi of PEFA and NCCK chair in Voi, Pst Robert Mwangala for Voi Pastors Fellowship, Rev. Peter Kasuku Sanctuary of Hope, Seventh Day Representative among other Christian church representatives.
Rev. Fr. Richard Ooko the head of IRD led the delegation of the Commission which was a team of four people.
The forum has been in existence since 2019 but its activities were on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on religious activities by the government. Hence, the aim of the meeting was to revitalize the forum and look for ways in which it can remain relevant to its members while adhering to MoH guidelines on the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with the chairman of the forum Rev. Fr. Mark Mutiso emphasised the need for Christian leaders to work together and affirmed the importance of Christian unity in reflecting upon the prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ that all those who believe in him may all be one.
He further urged Christian: “Let us put away our differences and journey together as a team to promote greater understanding and cooperation among Christians, while respecting the diversity of our identities and traditions. In doing so, we build on the basis of many ecumenical and other historical initiatives to overcome division in Christianity.”
CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED BY CHURCHES AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC
During the meeting, forum members shared how Covid-19 had negatively impacted their ministry as well as their congregants spiritually, socially and economically.
The clergy said that following restriction of attendance of prayer services by the government a number of their followers were left out.
Some of the members have continually resorted to praying at home and are not coming to the church even after the government has eased up on restrictions.
Members added that some of their congregants were fearing to come for prayers due to Covid-19.
The clergy also gave various example of families being separated due to the Covid-19 pandemic especially in families where there is no income.
The discussion showed that the tough economic situation of families has created conflicts and the clergy are constantly receiving cases of family disputes.
The clergy said that finances were scarce both for the church as well as the families and that they were appalled by not seeing any support coming from the government.
Issues of concerned for the Clergy in Voi Sub-county
Even though there are many areas of concern, the clergy prioritised two areas due to their impact on society: drug abuse and early teenage pregnancy.
This is due to the high prevalence of cases and the fact that the youth are the ones being victims of the vice.
The clergy agreed that it was their responsibility to reach out to the youth and assist them not abuse drugs and avoid early pregnancy.
In future, this will help both to the society and the church at large.