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The cradle of Quakers in Kenya

Monday December 9 2019

Kaimosi Friends Church

Christians hold a worship service at Kaimosi Friends Church in Vihiga County on November 3, 2019. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DERRICK LUVEGA
By DERRICK LUVEGA
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Originally a mud-walled, grass-thatched structure, Kaimosi Friends Church still stands tall more than a century after its modification into a brick-walled building in 1902 by missionaries who founded the Religious Society of Friends, popularly known as Quakers.

The building was given the facelift by White missionaries who brought the denomination that is now dominant in Vihiga County, and which has since spread to many parts of Kenya as well as East and Central Africa.

It is the headquarters of the Friends Church in Kenya.

Sitting on 1,080 acres close to the Chavakali-Kapsabet road, the building is still used to hold Sunday church services and other activities.

The first structure built was the church, but other facilities were later added, and it has since grown into a complex hosting a number of Friends-sponsored learning institutions as well as the Jumuia Hospital.

PROPAGATING MINISTRY

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The General Secretary of the Friends Church in Kenya, Mr Ephraim Konzolo, says the original, grass-thatched building is a monument that has retained the tradition of the Friends Church – it is simply a hall for worship, with no drawings or other artwork or decorations.

“Before 1902, the building was made of grass and poles. When the missionaries came, they helped modify it into a brick-walled structure. No further modifications were made, and it is still used for worship,” says Mr Konzolo.

The original plan was to build the structure in Vihiga but it ended up in Kaimosi

“After being entrenched in Kaimosi, the church spread to Vihiga, Lirhanda, Malava and Lugulu before spreading to other parts of the county, Mr Konzolo he says.

Friends Church is a Protestant denomination governed by an executive office and secretariat headed by a General Secretary.

Other senior leaders are the presiding clerk, vice presiding clerk, the recording clerk, the reading clerk and the treasurer.

FOUNDERS' MOTIVATION

Records indicate the pastors Willis Hotchkiss, Edgar Hole and Arthur Chilson arrived in Kenya via the port of Mombasa in 1902 and travelled to Kisumu by train to Kaimosi, where they set up the Quaker Mission.

“In fact, they decided to build the church mission in the area because they had climbed the hill that offered a panoramic view of the area. This is what informed the setting up of the mission centre in Kaimosi,” says Mr Konzolo.

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