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Unitarian/Universalists in Kenya
Unitarian/Universalists in Kenya
(Additional information can be found on uua.org) The concern and spiritual care that Unitarian Universalists have extended to the representatives from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) who have recently been in Kenya continues to be greatly appreciated. By way of background, a joint UUA-UUSC delegation was dispatched to Kenya from January 20 – 29 including UUSC President Charlie Clements, UUSC Program Director Atema Eclai and UU Minister, Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt. The delegation’s purpose was to witness and report ongoing violence and human rights abuses following the flawed Kenyan Presidential Election in December. Their experiences are well documented on Charlie Clement’s blog from Kenya and in a photo essay also by Charlie. President Bill Sinkford’s pastoral letter about violence in both Kenya and Pakistan invites congregations to respond prayerfully and to consider providing a donation to the joint UUSC-UUA Kenya Relief Fund. More recently, Rosemary Bray McNatt returned to Nairobi on February 5th as a member of the teaching faculty for the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists’ “Africa Leadership Training Conference”. There she has joined lead conference organizer, Rev. Jill MacAllister (USA), along with other members of the faculty: Rev. Brian Kiely (ICUU President, Canada), Rev. David Usher (England), and Rev. Gordon Oliver (South Africa). Participating in the leadership conference will be more than 60 Unitarian leaders from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Congo (Brazzaville) and Nigeria. May the gathering be a blessing for all involved. Congregations can help support this conference by making a donation towards the expenses of the participants. Speaking with Rosemary from Nairobi on February 5th, she asked that all be thanked for their prayers, and that they be informed that she is both having a wonderful experience and feels perfectly secure. She said that it appeared to be a very “ordinary” day in Nairobi. People she has met have been very welcoming and friendly, and have expressed hope about the peace mediation process. She admitted that the situation could change quickly if the mediation process breaks down, and that the situation is very different in Eldoret, Kisumu, and in parts of the Great Rift Valley. She asked for your continued prayers. In a similar way, Patrice Curtis – who has been visiting with emerging Unitarian groups in Nairobi this week on the UUA’s behalf, and who will attend the Leadership Conference as an observer – has found a warm welcome. Along with the essential work of ICUU, Patrice’s visits are an important step in the process of developing strong, healthy and long-lasting relationships with emerging Unitarian movements in various African countries. Patrice has posted a few photos from two of the four congregations in and around Nairobi and projects they have undertaken. Additional information from the conference will be provided by ICUU’s leaders, by Rosemary and by Patrice over the next week. Please check the international page at uua.org for these updates, or the Advocacy and Witness staff blog. An RSS feed for international posts to that blog is available for your convenience. And, don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to talk further about these events. Eric Reverend Eric M. Cherry International Resources Director, UUA 617-948-6412 echerry [at] uua [dot] org Skype id: Rev.Eric.Cherry Update 1: Rev. Brian Kiely (ICUU President, Canada) has sent the following email from Nairobi on 2/6: Dear Friends, Most of the members of the ICUU Leadership School arrived in Nairobi during the past 36 hours. We all traveled between 10 and 25 hours to get here. Happily the worst problem we encountered was jet lag, with perhaps a bit of a need to acclimate to the 5,000 foot altitude as well. We found a peaceful, thriving city filled with relaxed people. Rev. David Usher and I arrived together and were warmly welcomed by three members of the Kenyan UU Church in Nairobi. During the 90 minute traffic-jammed ride to our Guest House we learned much about the state of the city and the country. I am greatly relieved to say that while talks go on and politicians posture, the people seem resolved to rebuild their friendly relations with one another. Judging by the amazing amount of foot and automobile traffic, things are very much back to normal in Nairobi. I have been in dangerous places before. There is simply no tension or fear in the air. Even the soldiers guarding Uhuru Park, the site of recent mass demonstrations, look relaxed, even bored. Sadly, tensions are still high in the western part of the country near Eldoret. We have a delegation scheduled to come from Kisi, a little south that city. Commercial bus service has been suspended in that region, but we are advised that the army is providing escorts to travelers. The latest news we have is that the Kisi group has secured transport and will be escorted here on Thursday for the start of the school, which runs Thursday through Tuesday. On behalf of the faculty and the 50 participants, I thank Unitarians from around the world for their prayers and good wishes this past week. It has been immensely comforting for all of us to see how many people in so many places have been thinking of us and our small attempt at growing our faith in Africa. Rev. Brian Kiely Unitarian Church of Edmonton President, International Council of Unitarians and Universalists Update 2: Brian is blogging about the Africa Leadership Conference from Nairobi. Update 3: The UUSC has entered a report from the delegation to Kenya in the US Congressional record.

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