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Presbyterian Church of East Africa

Church Family : Presbyterian Church of East Africa
Based in : Kenya
Present in :
Membership : 4,000,000
Pastors : 450
Congregations :
Member Of :
Associate Member Of :
WCC Member Since : 1957

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa grew out of the work of the Church of Scotland. In 1891, the first missionaries settled at Kibwezi, some 250 km from Mombasa. Later it was decided to continue further inland to Thogoto, from where the Presbyterian Church spread out. The first Kikuyu convert was baptized in 1907. In 1910 there were 53 Christians. The number rose to 5,369 by 1929. Shortly after, there was a division in the church arising from disagreements on the question of female circumcision: some felt that the practice was medically wrong and therefore the church should discourage it; others, who felt that the issue had nothing to do with the church, broke away to form their own schools and churches. From 1908, the Church of Scotland began to take a greater interest in the many Scots scattered all over Kenya as settlers and government officials. For a long time the two wings, European and African, were one church but they separated in 1936. In 1956, they came together again and formed one general assembly. Since 1935, the church's pastors have been trained at St Paul's United Theological College along with Methodists and Anglicans. The church has a lay training centre at Kikuyu.

The PCEA has been playing an important role in Kenya. It pioneered in education and medical work. It founded the first hospital in the country. It now maintains three hospitals and several health centres, two schools for deaf children, a home for old people and a home for destitute children. It sponsors 700 schools, both primary and secondary. The church participates in nation-building and operates several projects such as community centres, rural development projects, centres for weaving, homecraft, secretarial training for girls, HIV/AIDS control programmes, relief efforts and refugees.

In spite of its meagre resources and paucity of personnel, the church faces the future with confidence. Among its primary concerns are: seeking a still greater role in the political life of society, the better training of pastors and lay people, the reaching of the unreached tribes with the gospel, the preparation of youth for the future and the search for ways and means to make the church self-supporting.

The PCEA maintains relations with the Church of Scotland, the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Reformed Church of America and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.