Good News International (GNI) Ministries, the controversial church that is linked to Paul Mackenzie, restricts its membership to individuals above 18 years, it has emerged, raising questions as to how the cleric got minors to undertake major doctrinal issues like fasting.
A copy of the constitution, and that of Newlife Prayer Centre and Church, linked to Pastor Ezekiel Ombok Odero seen by Sunday Nation lifts the lid on the operations of the two religious institutions in the eye of the storm in the wake of the shocking deaths in Shakahola Village, Kilifi County, that stand at 201.
The by-laws, which Attorney General Justin Muturi submitted to the Senate Ad hoc Committee when he appeared before it on Wednesday, indicate that Mackenzie’s ministry outlines its objects as praying for the sick and helping the needy. Mackenzie is currently in custody in relation to the deaths of two children allegedly ordered to starve.
The committee chaired by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana is currently investigating circumstances under which the deaths occurred and the proliferation of religious organisations that has led to the growth to what its chairman has described as ‘dark doctrines” in the country.
This detail in the church's constitution is likely to trigger a public storm as it would appear the pastor has been acting outside his own constitution when he ordered the children to fast.
It is also supposed to launch and operate branches of the society, train and teach leaders, organise prayer meetings and to publish Christian literature, including books, stickers and magazines or other publications and expressions.
The Church also lists operating conferences centres, amusement parks, entertainment and amusement parks, holiday resorts as part of its objectives
Part 3 (a) of the constitution of GNI ministries restricts its membership to any person over the age of 18.
“Such a person shall be eligible for membership of the society, and shall be subject to the approval of the [executive] committee or joining after prayers,” the provisions reads in part.
Part 3 (b) of the constitution, lays out circumstances through which an individual can be expelled from the church.
“Any member may be expelled from membership if the committee so recommends and if the general meeting of the society shall be resolved by a two thirds majority of the members present in the general meeting,” it adds.
However, it insists that a member will be expelled on the grounds that such member’s conduct “has adversely affected the reputation or dignity of the society” or that such a member has contravened any provision of the constitution of the society.
Whereas Mackenzie is listed as chairman of the Ministry, the whereabouts of some founder members and who are part of the executive committee remains unknown as they have not been seen ever since the deaths attracted public indignation. None of those listed in the ministry’s official documents at the Office of Registrar general is in custody alongside Mackenzie.
Mr Raphael Riziki Baya, whose occupation is identified as DSTV Installer in the documents presented to the committee, is listed as the vice chairman, Mr Smart Deri Mwakalama, a hotelier, is listed as the secretary while Lucia Wanjiku Kinuthia is the assistant secretary. Her occupation is not identified in the records.
Mr Sebastian Kashero, listed as accountant, is the Treasurer, while Alexander Muema Musango, identified as a businessman, is the assistant treasurer.
Registrar General Jane Joram told the committee that there was an attempted coup at the church where some members wanted to topple the officer bearers in May of 2022.
Ms Joram did not give details of the members behind the attempt or whether Mackenzie was among those to be removed, but her office rejected the putsch on the account that those behind it did not follow the procedure laid down in the constitution of the church insofar as change of name is concerned and removal of office bearers.
The records, currently being examined by the committee, say those who attempted the coup had also planned to change the name of the organisation to City of Deliverance Church.
While Pastor Ezekiel declares his Newlife Church as non-profit and non-political, the display of wealth and dalliance with the political bigwigs has cast the organisation as an entity that operates outside its own constitutional edicts.
The church was registered on September 11, 2012 and its physical address is given as Plot No 916, Shanzu, Mombasa County, even though it currently operates from Mavueni, in the neighbouring Kilifi County.
As the founder, Pastor Ezekiel is listed as the chairman, according to the records at the registrar office. Moses Onyango Okendo, the vice chair, Alice Nafula Wanyama, the secretary and Frankline Kilonzio Mbuvi is the treasurer. All are listed as business people.