The next head of the Anglican Church in Kenya will be known on Friday when the 150-member electoral college elects the archbishop of Nairobi.
The college members — a diocesan bishop, two priests and two lay persons from each of the 30 dioceses — will gather at the All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi at 9am to elect, by secret ballot, the man to replace Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.
The candidate will be installed and enthroned, the Anglicans say, as the head of the 4.5 million member church in a grand ceremony on July 5.
A public relations officer at the church’s headquarters on Wednesday said that the preparations for perhaps the biggest event in the church’s calendar this year are going on well. But church leaders declined to give reporters interviews “for fear that their remarks could work for or against one of the four candidates”.
In the contest are Maseno West bishop Joseph Otieno Wasonga, Kitale bishop Stephen Kewasis, Taita bishop Samuel Mwaluda and Bungoma bishop Eliud Wabukala. In an interview on Monday, the church’s equivalent of a secretary-general, Bishop Lawrence Dena said no direct campaigns were allowed and tomorrow’s election is considered a mere formality as the “head has already been identified by God”.
“There is minimal contact allowed between the bishop and the person nominating them and the church does not allow for campaigns,” he said. Bishop Dena said the next archbishop must be a holder of at least a Masters degree in theology, be 45-60 years in age, be a well-known spiritual leader, development-oriented and have been a bishop for at least five years.
The process began in February, when Archbishop Nzimbi wrote to the church lawyer, known as the provincial chancellor, and the dean of the church — the most senior bishop — to say that he would be retiring on June 30. The archbishop of Nairobi enjoys global recognition among the 70-million strong Anglican faithful and is one of the church’s worldwide leaders. He is the main spokesman of the church in Kenya.