Nyanchwa SDA Church still stands tall, over a century after its establishment in 1906, the same year Gendia was started.
Although the buildings have been modernised into a complex comprising a Level Four hospital, a primary school, a secondary school, a college and a big house of worship, the original building still sits on the more than 20-acre piece of land.
Retired pastor and South Kenya Conference Departmental Director Samson Kingoina Nyasae says the original church is now a monument that houses a library used by the primary, secondary and college students in the complex.
“However, there have been a few modifications, it now has an extension with a studio for the church,” says Mr Kingoina.
The library has small rooms from where pastors, elders and deacons planned church work.
Mr Kingoina says the initial church, built in 1906, was a temporary mud-and-thatch structure, but it was upgraded into a modern building in the 1960s.
“The hard-core building still stands strong. Pastor Fred Thomas personally contributed to its construction,” said Mr Kingoina. The 73-year-old pastor says Nyanchwa church bred missionaries.
“The Gusii were enticed with sweets and other goodies so as to join adventism. They took missionary work seriously and helped spread the gospel. White missionaries worked specifically with two Kisii leaders, Abraham Oirere and Paul Nyamweya,” said Mr Kingoina.
The duo spread the gospel to Kapkatet, now in Kericho County, and Lavington in Nairobi. Karura, Machakos, Kitui, Mombasa and Nakuru were among the first places to embrace the church. Pastor Lenard Aencha, the South Kenya Conference Executive Secretary, says church land is threatened by land grabbers.
Pastor Aencha says South Kenya Conference originally covered Kisii, Nyamira and Trans Mara.
“But it has now been subdivided into three: Nyamira Conference, South East Kenya Field and South Kenya Conference,” said pastor Aencha.
The South Kenya Conference has about 400 churches with 200,000 members.
The SDA Church is a protestant Christian denomination, which is distinguished by its observance of the Sabbath on Saturday and its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.
The church is governed by a General Conference with smaller regions administered by divisions, unions, conferences, and fields.
The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century. The church was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings the church still holds in high regard. It has a worldwide baptised membership of over 20 million and 25 million adherents.
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