Warm welcome for Moderator from Kenyan Kirk
Published on 6 March 2017
Scotland is historically a nation of internationalists - home to radical thinkers who have left an indelible mark on the world.
Nowhere is this more evident than Kenya where Church of Scotland missionaries spread the Good News of Jesus Christ more than 100 years ago.
Their evangelism laid the foundations of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) which has grown from strength to strength.
Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, retraced the footsteps of pioneering Scots and saw for himself the life changing legacies they left behind.
He was warmly welcomed by Rev Robert Mbugua, moderator of the Presbytery of Kikuyu, who described Scotland as the "home of our ancestors".
Dr Barr visited a PCEA evangelist training college where he met students from across the African continent who hope to be soon leading churches.
The Minister, who was accompanied by his wife Margaret, went onto a primary school and spent time with a group of very lively children who were beyond excited to meet him.
The complex also includes a teacher training college.
Scottish missionaries, inspired by the Kirk's desire to have a school in every parish, were the only ones recognised as stating outright that they wanted to have Africans educated.
The education system in Kenya was shaped by Marion Stephenson.
The World Mission Council delegation then visited the Church of the Torch at Kikuyu which would not look out of place in Scotland, save for the surrounding palm trees.
The first and original Presbyterian church to be built nearby was overseen by a married couple from Dundee, Rev Thomas Watson and his wife Minnie Cumming, who arranged for the prefabricated building to be shipped over from Scotland at the turn of the 20th century.
Mother of church founded hospitals
Dr Barr met members of the Church of the Torch's Women's Guild and presented member Anne Wangando with a Church of Scotland Guild tartan scarf as a momento.
The party was given a guided tour of Kikuyu Hospital, which was established in 1908 by Scottish Christians and is now run by PCEA.
It started life as a cottage dispensary and is considered to be the "mother of all church founded hospitals".
Scot William Arthur is recognised as establishing medical services in Kenya and denounced female circumcision in 1929.
Dr Barr was then given a tour of the Presbyterian University of East Africa, which is supported by PCEA.
The Co-Ed Christian university, which has a rich history dating back to the days when the first Church of Scotland missionaries landed in Kenya, was opened in 2008 and has around 1,000 students.
Dr Russell Barr, has also visited a church that serves one of the biggest slums in the world.
He reflects on a day like no other.
Dr Barr said: "Kibera parish must be one of the most challenging parishes anywhere in the world.
"Set in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, it is home to over one million people, most of them enduring grinding poverty.
"The minister is the Reverend Edward Githinji Mburu.
"He as a smiling and cheerful man as you could hope to meet, yet someone who struggles to know if his ministry makes even the slightest difference in such an extraordinary context.
"We visited both his congregations, met several of his elders and spent time in the two schools which the parish supports as well as the HIV and AIDs clinic run by the church.
"Edward might not be able to solve all the problems of Kiberia but his passion and concern for the people of his parish was quite humbling.
"Meeting today has been a privilege and one of the highlights of my year as Moderator."