AN ANALYSIS OF CHURCH CONFLICT: THE CASE OF EMMANUEL CHURCH KENGELENI- MOMBASA DIOCESE (2000-2010)
APANGA, JUDAH MWABONJE
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The study set out to analyze conflict that characterized Emmanuel Church Kengeleni of Mombasa Diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) between 2000 -2010. Emmanuel Kengeleni is the second oldest church in Kenya after St. Paul’s Rabai. The two churches were established by the pioneer Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in Kenya. While St Paul’s Rabai was established to serve African communities in the interior, Emmanuel Church Kengeleni was mainly established to carter for the socio-spiritual needs of freed slaves. Since its inception, the Church has faced a historical crisis of identity among the freed slaves and other African community members which has negatively affected its growth and expansion as compared to other ACK churches in Kenya. It has experienced a perennial leadership conflict which has affected the relationship of the descendants of freed slaves and other African Christian communities in the Church. This study therefore, sought to draw on the history of Freretown community to analyse Emmanuel Church Kengeleni perennial conflict over the years. It specifically attempted to establish the role played by the Freretown community in the growth and development of the Church; establish the factors that led to escalation of conflict between 2000 and 2010; determine the impact of the conflict and explore possible ways of conflict mitigation in the Church. The research employed Conflict Theory as advanced by Karl Marx (1818-1883). It relied on both secondary and primary sources of data. The secondary sources of data were mainly newspapers, books, journal articles and primary data was acquired mainly through archival materials and oral interviews with 56 resource persons purposefully sampled. The interviews were supplemented by Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). The findings show that the conflict was caused by an identity crisis, struggle for leadership positions, scramble for control of resources and appropriation of church funds. The study found that the conflict had vi enormous effects on the church and society both spiritually and socio-economically. As an opportunity, the conflict was a potential source for church growth, expansion and Christian maturity whereas on the other hand it retarded development, escalated rivalry, strained relations and enhanced negative publicity. The study recommends that church leaders be trained on conflict resolution and that churches ought to provide avenues and structures of proactive conflict resolution mechanism.