Monday, March 26, 2012

My Life In Kenya: A Musungu Memoir -- The End?

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Kenya-Nevada connection has always struck me as positive and warm-hearted. There are clearly quite a few Nevada Episcopalians who care deeply about Kenya and act on their caring. But the Nevada-Kenya connection is also a little puzzling. For one thing, a lot of folks in Nevada believe we have, or once had, a companion diocese relationship in Kenya. We do not and never have. Bishop Kanuku has visited here and has spoken to our Convention. But we never sealed the deal.

For another thing: There are three or four NGO’s operating in Nevada to support good works in Kenya. These NGO’s are supported, and in some cases, even led by members of the Episcopal Church. They report on what they are doing at Diocesan Convention, and we all come away feeling a bit of virtue-by-association, and many believe the Diocese of Nevada is actually doing good work in Kenya. Not so much. I have given a little discretionary fund money to Kenya. Last year we gave part of the loose plate offering from the Convention Eucharist to combat malaria; but the Episcopal Church in Nevada is not supporting anything in Kenya except on occasion here and there. I am grateful for the NGO’s and the participation of Episcopalians in their efforts. We want to encourage them and support them. But we should not confuse their good works with the Diocese actually doing something ourselves.

So where do we go from here?

I got a glimmer of an idea when Bishop Kanuku took me to the office of Ukamba Christian Community Services. They are the community and economic development arm of three neighboring dioceses in the Ukamba region of Kenya, which includes the Diocese of Machakos. They are actively engaged in Millenium Development Goal projects, building sand dams to help people survive drought, funding small businesses, supporting economic independence and equality for women, forming agricultural cooperatives, shifting agriculture from cattle which are high risk and low profit to goats and chickens which are low risk and higher profit. UCCS is quite an impressive operation. It receives support from multiple faith based sources – but none from two sources – nothing from the Diocese of Nevada and nothing from Episcopal Relief and Development.

So I am wondering these things: Might we invite the Diocese of Machakos into a Companion Diocese relationship? Yes, we are already linked to the Diocese of Santiago, but diocesan partnerships are not monogamous. And this one would be different. Santiago needs to be economically independent of the West. Machakos is headed that direction, but Ukamba Christian Community Services needs seed money (literally and figuratively) to lift people out of poverty.

The Anglican Communion is not a denomination. We are not held together by a centralized authority with a whip to keep us in line. The Anglican Covenant appears to be headed nowhere because we like it like that. We are a spider web of relationships. The Nevada-Machakos relationship is one of those threads. Might we want to mark the demise of the Anglican Covenant by strengthening our bond with Machakos, with a gentler voluntary partnership?

Linda and I committed to sponsor a rescue girl in the Massai Mara; and we expect to contribute to building the Girls Hostel for ACK Kyandote Bulwa. But what might the Diocese of Nevada do? I will be processing that question with the Deacons and the Standing Committee, but ultimately it will be up to the people of our Diocese. It is a question worth praying on.

Something I have been musing over. Since so many Nevadans act on behalf of Kenya, what does it mean that we do not form a partnership with them or do anything as a diocese for Kenya. I wonder if it says something, not about our relationship with Kenya, but our relationship with each other. If we were to make a commitment to Machakos together, what difference might that make in our ties to each other here?

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