Kitengela Catholic Church: Yes, to tithe, no to skimpy dresses

Skimpy or rugged attires dressed worshipers banned in Kitengela Catholic Church.

A story is told of a worshipper in Nairobi who sauntered into a Sunday Service in a renowned church accompanied by their six-year-old son recently.

The dad donning rugged jeans and bling bling hung loosely on his neck, the mother wore a tight-fitting jean, while their son, a minor, attire matched his dads.

The boy carried a new toy gun. In the middle of the sermon, the boy donning Mohawk hair style, dark sunglasses on his forehead stood up and began "shooting" the congregation, starting with the pastor to the chagrin of worshipers.

But such occurrences have no space in Kitengela St Monica Catholic Church.

Not under the priest in charge, Fr Felix Ongaka.

In the last few weeks, a banner has been pinned on the church wall conspicuously noticeable to all worshippers, advising on the type of clothes banned during Sunday services.

The images of the banned attires, for both men and women, is displayed for all and sundry.

Last Sunday, visited the church for a fact-finding mission.

Motorists have to alight for security checks and scrutiny by the church moral cops.

Here, seemingly there is a silent rule within the church precincts.

"This is the place of worship not a marketplace or fashion galore”.

It’s evident, the new order is slowly sinking into worshipers.

"When the priest (Fr Felix) read the riot act to worshippers, a section took it as a joke. However, reality began sinking when dozens of ill-dressed worshippers were turned away.  The dress code 'cops' have brought new order into the church, " said Nancy Njambi, 24, who was once turned away for wearing 'inappropriate' trousers.

A team of moral 'cops', both male and female, are always on duty by 6 am, before the first service, manning the main gate.

They do not mince their words on dress code offenders. In case one slips through the mean looking moral cops, and are noticed during the service, matching orders are issued on the spot.

Teen worshippers are grappling to adjust into the harsh reality.

Here, women are not allowed in church in miniskirts, slitted skirts or dresses. Also, transparent attires, cleavage showing clothes or tight garments and stiletto shoes are not welcome.

"Women dresses and skirts should be below the knees and not have long slits. Football jerseys and sports attires are not allowed," reads part of the banner.

The banner also has several verses from the bible inscribed in bright colors for everyone to see.

"We want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God," reads 1 Timothy 2: 9-10.

Men’s worshipers are not spared either.

They are not allowed into church in rugged jeans, shorts, sweatpants, sleeveless t-shirts showing bulging biceps. They are also required to wear "modest" shoes.

No one is allowed in church with necklaces and large bungles. 'Non ordinary' hairstyles are discouraged.

the notice also bans children's toys within the church compound with toys. Their dress code should be modest with no "funny" hair styles before they are allowed into the Sunday school that runs concurrently with the main service.

"Initially worshipers feared to come to church but nowadays they are singing to the new church rhythm. Kitengela St Monicah Catholic church is among the biggest worshiping centers in Kitengela town boasting of four Sunday services. The new sheriff (Fr Ongaka) has transformed the church," said Mr John Odour, 52, a worshipper.

During the service, worshipers are encouraged to actively participate as per the procedures of the Catholic church. Movement in church during the service is discouraged.

When reached out to Fr Felix Ongaka for a comment, he said worshipers had embraced the new church dress codee.

"Dress code in church is not new, as worshippers usually ignore what is expected of them. Faith and morals are intertwined. Permanent christian foundation stipulates worshipers should be morally upright, “he said insisting the church won’t relent in this new direction that will also rope in surrounding Catholic stations.


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