A leadership wrangle in the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) could intensify further after outgoing Archbishop Amos Kabuthu Sunday handed over to a newly elected successor amid strong opposition from some church members.
The retired archbishop handed over to Bishop Fredrick Wang’ombe, who was elected by some of the church’s bishops from across the country on Thursday.
Another leader, Bishop Julius Njoroge, was elected by a rival group on January 9, and is due for official inauguration on Friday.
The election of the two spiritual leaders by the two opposing groups has divided the church, with Archbishop Kabuthu’s supporters calling their rivals a splinter group.
In July 2016, the High Court ordered Archbishop Kabuthu to retire, while the church was directed to hold elections for a new head.
While handing over power to Bishop Wang’ombe at the AIPCA headquarters in Bahati, Nairobi, Archbishop Kabuthu said he had accepted to leave his position in good faith and allow the new leader to take over.
AIPCA acting secretary-general Simon Maina Kimaru said the church would not accept any elected leader other that Wang’ombe.
“The AIPCA church has one archbishop, if there is any other archbishop we do not acknowledge them,” he told the congregation.
According to Mr Kimaru, before Sunday’s ceremony, the two opposing sides held an overnight meeting to reach an agreement, but their negotiations bore no fruit.
The newly appointed Archbishop Wang’ombe called for an end to the fights that have bedevilled the church for a long time.