Three Anglican Church of Kenya priests from Nyeri who were initially suspended from pastoral duties over allegations of engaging in homosexuality have finally received a compensation of Sh6.8 million from the church after a four-year court battle.
The compensation is for psychological trauma flowing from the circumstances their ministerial services in the church were terminated.
It also covers withheld salaries and benefits for the period their preaching licences had been withdrawn.
They were suspended from officiating church services in August 2015 and were reinstated by court in September 2016 after a finding that the suspension was unlawful.
Archdeacon John Gachau will receive Sh2.4 million while James Maigua and Paul Warui will get Sh2.2 million each.
Justice Nzioki wa Makau of the Labour court in Nyeri Wednesday allowed the priests’ application to have the money, which was held in a joint bank account of the advocates involved in the case, released.
The judge, at the same time, dealt a blow to the church’s Mt Kenya West Bishop Joseph Mwangi Kagunda who sought to block the release of the funds.
While opposing the payments, Bishop Kagunda argued that the judgement dated September 9, 2016 was entered against the registered trustees of the Anglican Church of Kenya, which is an unknown legal entity within the church structures.
“The properties of the church are held in trust for different dioceses by the Church Commissioners of Kenya which is a body corporate and a limited liability company with its own independent corporate status separate from the church,” explained the bishop.
He noted that the church commissioners’ office was not represented in the court proceedings since Justice Makau did not allow them to join the suit.
“The commissioners, having been refused by the court to participate in the suit, cannot now be made to suffer any penalties or consequences arising from the suit,” said the bishop through Triple ‘OK’ Advocates.
But the clerics, through lawyer David Onsare, protested that the church had all along refused to settle the court order despite receiving various demands.
The lawyer quoted an instance where the church was fined Sh200,000 in May this year after it was cited in contempt of court for failing to reinstate the priests back to their pastoral duties.
Bishop Kagunda was also on July 12 sent to civil jail for contempt.
“The consistent, deliberate and vehement refusal to settle the amount has forced the claimants to apply for the release of the funds held in a joint account. Unless a decree is issued forthwith, the claimants are apprehensive that the monies will be squandered,” said Mr Onsare.
The judge also directed the church to pay the legal costs of the suit capped at Sh520,000.