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Easter church service in Nyeri turns into wrestling match – PHOTOS

The Easter Sunday service at AIPCA Munyange church in Othaya, Nyeri, ended prematurely after worshippers turned violent over an ongoing leadership dispute.

What was to be a colourful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ turned into a chaotic fist fight and shouting match as riot police forcefully ejected worshippers from the church.

The church had to be locked down by anti-riot police as the two rival factions of the church fought over leadership positions in the church.

Blows flew, women pulled at each other’s hair, old men were tackled as the fight for the church by rival factions turned ugly.

Children watched from a distance as embattled Archdeacon Elijah Mwai hurled insults at some of his flock whom he accused of threatening to kill him.

 PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI
PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

URINATE IN CHURCH

Some members are said to have urinated inside the church.

“How can someone be so disrespectful to God that they urinate inside His house,” an elderly woman was heard saying in Gikuyu language.

One of the factions had arrived in the church as early as 6am, locked themselves inside and started their worship, barring the rival group from accessing the premise.

This, the Nation learned, was in revenge to being locked out by the other faction during the Good Friday service.

The wrangles have been ongoing since 2016 over the composition of a powerful committee that controls activities of the church, including the appointment of the church’s archdeacon.

 PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI
PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS

The current committee is headed by Mr Stephen Kurenja who is facing opposition for alleged misappropriation of funds and for unprocedurally appointing a parish archdeacon.

A section of the church have challenged the appointment of Archdeacon Elijah Mwai, claiming that he bribed his way to to the job.

The matter was initially resolved by retired AIPCA Archbishop Amos Kabuthu who formed a new committee. However the matter was challenge in court and an order was issued last month overruling the decision to form a new committee.

According to the chair, Mr Kurenja, the wrangles are being influenced by an outside force who wants control of the church’s funds.

‘NO ORDINARY WAR’

“This is no ordinary war. There are people outside the church who are inciting church members to revolt and cause disorder,” said Mr Kurenja.

He claimed that the retired Archbishop Kabuthu did not have any mandate to appoint a committee as he no longer held office.

“He is retired. He cannot make such decisions,” said Mr Kurenja.

In the order issued by Nyeri Resident Judge Justice Jarius Ngaah, the church has been directed to resolve the wrangles in the next two months.