Kenya: ACK Bishop to Help Settle Three Priests Axed Over Gay Claims

Anglican Church Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda is expected to mobilise worshipers to accept back three clerics he had attempted to suspend on allegations of engaging in homosexuality.

Bishop Kagunda has also agreed to accompany the clerics; Archdeacon John Gachau, Reverend James Maigua and Reverend Paul Warui to their newly posted parishes either in person or through parish councils.

This is according to an agreement filed at the High Court in Nyeri by a mediator, Mr Joakim Oundo, following a prolonged legal battle.

However, the two parties differed on the amount of money the church should pay the priests as facilitation fee as they re-embark on their ministerial duties.

The church proposed to offer each of the priests an equivalent of a three-month-salary, while they demanded an amount equal to three years' pay, the agreement indicates.

The matter has been in court since 2015 when the priests sued Bishop Kagunda for implicating them in homosexuality and suspending them from pastoral duties.

In settling the dispute, the clerics agreed to adhere to laid down procedures in executing their mandates.

"The clergy shall conduct themselves in line with established guidelines, code of conduct and expectations of Christians," reads the document.

An earlier agreement was rejected by Justice Abigail Mshila in February, this year who found that the document was not legally binding because it was not signed by the bishop or the church trustees.

NEW DEAL

The new agreement is also not signed by the Bishop as he did not attend the mediation sessions. He instead sent Venerable Cannon Gerald Mwangi Muriithi and Venerable Samuel Mwangi Waweru to represent him and sign the agreement on his behalf.

Initially before the suspension, Archdeacon Gachau was ministering at Kariki parish, Reverend Warui at St. Stephens Thunguri parish while Reverend Maigua was ministering at Witima parish, all in Othaya.

They were restored to their ministerial duties by the Labour Court in July, 2017 but the worshipers held demonstrations against the court's decision and blocked them from accessing the churches, a move that threatened to split the church.

Following the protests, the church head Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit convened a quick regional meeting at ACK St Peters Cathedral in Nyeri town where he said he was determined to ensure the church does not split.

The case will be mentioned on May 28 for adoption of the agreement, which will be implemented within 30 days.

The court will determine the costs of the suit.

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