On Sunday, September 12, Rev Rose Okeno was ordained as a bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), making her the first woman full bishop of the church. Her Grace Rose Okeno will now oversee the Butere Diocese following her successful election on July 20, where she beat two male contenders.
Bishop Okeno’s historic ordination is a welcome move and a step in the right direction, but more importantly, it is a sign of the times and perhaps for some, a clear indication of the evolution of the church into a more progressive and gender-inclusive institution.
In this era where diversity, equity and inclusivity have become critical, it is encouraging to see the church – I mean the institution, not a particular denomination – taking deliberate steps to uplift women not just as helpers and assistants, but as decision makers and leaders.
Studies in the corporate world have demonstrated remarkable improvement in organisational performance as a result of diversity and inclusivity. I doubt the situation will be any different in the church.
Bishop Okeno’s ascent to one of the most influential positions in the ACK should not be taken lightly.
While it is no doubt a testament to Her Grace’s dedication to ministry and her irrepressible courage, it is more importantly a vote of confidence in women’s leadership by the church and this has some positive effects.
First, her rise will no doubt elevate the voice women and other minorities to the highest levels of church leadership, and the church will immensely benefit from her fresh and different perspectives on various matters including gender issues within the church.
Secondly, and most critical, Bishop Okeno’s ordination will open doors for more women and embolden them to take on leadership positions within the church and other male-dominated institutions and fields. This is now beyond the church.
Kenyan women – both members and non-members of ACK – will be inspired to excel in their careers, in business and entrepreneurship and even in politics, because they have seen that it is possible for a woman to crush the glass ceilings.
Not to mention that this new appointment will inspire a pipeline of future women bishops, assistant bishops and leaders for the church as well as future women leaders in the workplace, entrepreneurship and in politics.
I can only hope Bishop Okeno will take this opportunity to mentor fellow women and young people in her diocese and beyond.
Her lived experiences, wisdom and knowledge would greatly benefit the country as her generation strives to equip young people to take over the church and the country.
I should also take this opportunity to congratulate her for her courage and fortitude and wish her well in the exciting journey ahead. Her Grace Bishop Rose Okeno might be the first woman full bishop of the ACK, but I am certain she will not be the last.