Ordination & Church Leadership

Among the main objectives of the CIRCLE is to encourage and support women to take up leadership positions, especially in the church. In her efforts to prepare women for ordination and church leadership, the CIRCLE made use of the strategy of increasing the number of women with theological training. This was spearheaded at a time when several churches were still not ordaining women into priesthood. As a result, the increasing numbers of women with theological education created and continues to create the needed pressure on the church to move from simply having ‘inclusive clauses’ in constitutions to actually start to practically include women. Even though the process of ordaining women and embracing women in church leadership is ongoing and at different levels for different denominations, efforts of the CIRCLE continue to bear fruits since the needed progress is continually being made.

Among highlights in these regard include the Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki’s (who is currently the Director of Gender, Women and Youth at the AACC) bold move in 2012. Dr. Mwaniki offered her candidature for the position of bishop in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Kirinyaga Diocese. Even though she was not elected to the position, her move to offer her candidature is in keeping with the CIRCLE spirit of encouraging women to aspire to top leadership positions in the church.

For the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA), the CIRCLE strategy of increasing the number of women with theological training as part of lobbying and preparation of women for ordination and church leadership has had remarkable influence. The rising number of women with theological training in RCEA following support from the CIRCLE significantly contributed to the removal of an exclusive clause in the constitution of the church which stated that an ordained minister of the church ‘had to be a biological male’. This happened in 2010 at a time when the church already had many women with theological training who were serving in different capacities within the church and in other church related institutions. Later on in July 2018, RCEA ordained the first woman to priesthood. Currently there are twelve ordained women in RCEA and two of them have been appointed to lead parishes as parish ministers.

Another woman who has risen in the ranks of church leadership is Bishop Jane Akoth who is currently a bishop in the Africa Israeli Nineveh Church. Many more CIRCLE members lead in the academy and in other church related organizations.

The CIRCLE continues to be a space where women are supported and encouraged to exploit their full potential and embrace leadership and ordination opportunities.

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