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Churches battle for control of property

Thursday December 20 2012

By PAUL OGEMBA [email protected]

Three churches are locked in a court battle for control of a two-acre piece of land in Lavington, Nairobi.

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), the Anglican and Methodist churches jointly acquired the land for interdenominational services.

The PCEA, through its St Andrews Church however, went to court saying the Methodist Church wanted to sub-divide and dispose of some the land on which the Lavington United Church is built.

St Andrews obtained orders barring the Methodists from sub-dividing the land or selling it until the suit is heard and determined.

The Anglican Church, through its Mombasa Diocese, joined the suit, saying it was part of the deal that gave birth to the Lavington church and the Methodists could not dispose of the property without its consent.

PCEA board of trustees chairman Christopher Karue filed an affidavit saying the three churches entered into an agreement in 1959 that the land would be used on a cooperative basis.

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The Methodist Church was given the title deed to keep in trust on the understanding that none of the churches had exclusive rights to the land.

“The Methodists have, however, breached provisions of the agreement by developing the land, sub-dividing it and swapping one of the premises,” said Prof Karue’s affidavit.

He said the PCEA was compelled to register a caveat on the land which the Methodists defied and instructed a surveyor to sub-divide it.

Prof Karue said the Methodists were not the owners and were only invited to set up the joint denominational church to change notions that Christians from different congregations could not worship together.

He said the land had been allotted to the PCEA and Anglicans who invited the Methodists to join in as they had no church in Nairobi and operated from Meru.

He said they now feared the Methodists would take over control of the Lavington United Church.

Prof Karue’s affidavit was backed by the PCEA representative at the Lavington United Church, Mr Charles Mwangi, who said the Methodists had threatened to punish them if they stood in their way.

The Methodist Church, through Bishop Rev Stephen Kanyaru, opposed the application, saying it is an abuse of the court process.

He said his church made the biggest contribution to the development of the property and that the PCEA and Anglicans only owned five per cent each.

“The land was offered to the two churches but as they were unable to develop it, they suggested it be given to us. We are the ones who built a primary school, catering facilities and car parks,” said Rev Kanyaru.

Lady Justice Rose Ougo scheduled the hearing for March 19.