Leadership wrangles that have rocked the Methodist Church for the past three years took a new twist after a faction of church officials declared it had ousted the current head, Joseph Ntombura.
Ntombura, however, said he is still the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya and President of Africa Methodist Council, even after the leaders appointed Dr Stephen Kanyaru as the interim bishop.
“We want to assure members that we are in total control and the measures we shall take will solve the problem once and for all,” said Ntombura.
The ouster took place as Ntombura was attending a church conference in Ghana.
In a statement to Sunday Standard, Ntombura condemned his removal, saying the faction that claimed to have taken over is no longer a flock in the Methodist Church.
“There is nothing new they are bringing here. The same old story, which they have taken all over to court, to the DCI, to our partners, and they have not succeeded because all is false,” said Ntombura.
He said it was “inappropriate” for the faction to cause chaos in church.
“How can people say they have left the church and continue to cause disturbances in the same church?” posed Ntombura.
At the heart of the pulpit battle, which has spilled to the corridors of justice, is Ntombura’s reign. His accusers claim he should leave to allow a new head to steer the flock.
The faction opposed to Ntombura’s reign on Friday camped at the church’s Lavington office but it was not without opposition from those in support of the embattled bishop.
When heavenly intervention failed, fire power from the police calmed an already tense situation.
Police said they arrested two men who they claim were found with a pistol loaded with 29 rounds of ammunition. The leaders have called on police to take action on them.
Yesterday, leaders allied to Ntombura released a statement signed by, among other, Reverend Zablon Nthamburi, a trustee, Reverend Naftaly Kitonga, the assistant conference secretary, and Mrs Erica Mutwiri, the conference honorary treasurer.
In the statement, they accuse the Kanyaru group of illegal entry into the facility.
“We as the leaders and members of the Church wish to dissociate ourselves from such roguish and ill-behaved persons, ministers and leaders of Methodist Church of Kenya”, their statement read in part.
They also asked police to investigate Friday’s chaos.
“We ask the National Police Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to swiftly and audaciously process these criminals and take action against them,” they said.
Kanyaru and his team, however, said that Ntombura cannot continue leading the church.
They argued that he has never presented his academic certificates as per the standing orders, which require one to have a masters degree and a basic degree in theology.
They also accused him of not honoring the promise he had given that he would provide transcripts.
The faction also accused Ntombura of running down the church and sacking over 40 clergy members.
They claimed that Ntombura has also sacked 80 members of Kenya Methodist University and some 100 workers of the Church institutions without following due procedure.
The wrangles have landed in the corridors of justice as the Kanyaru faction accuses Ntombura of attracting court cases by sacking workers without following due process.
After taking over leadership at the facility, Kanyaru in his acceptance speech, invited Ntombura for a meeting today to resolve their differences. But Ntombura said he is out of the country.
Kanyaru also invited anyone who has been sacked by Ntombura to report back to work immediately and those transferred to report to their stations.