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Presbyterian Moderator aims to aid missions during two-week tour of Kenya

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The Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr William Henry

The Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr William Henry

The Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr William Henry

The Presbyterian Moderator departed for Kenya yesterday, as he begins a 14-day overseas tour of the east African nation.

Rt Rev Dr William Henry is making his second official visit to the country, having been there in 2018 when he visited an orphanage and a hospital alongside medical students.

The latest visit will see Dr Henry spending time with missionary workers who have been seconded to serve with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

The Belfast-born Moderator will be joined by his wife Nora. He has also paid for his three children to accompany him on part of the tour.

"We have three missionary families in Kenya and I am looking forward to spending time with all of them. Seeing their work first hand and spending time encouraging and strengthening them is my primary reason for going," he said.

"It is also important that they know that the whole church is engaged and prayerfully upholds them."

The predominantly Christian country of Kenya is considered to be a key economic, transport and financial hub in the region. The country of 48 million currently has 450 PCEA pastors, alongside 45 presbyteries and over 1,000 congregations in its 310 parishes.

Once in Nairobi, Dr Henry will spend two days journeying north to the village of Tuum where he will visit Stephen and Angelina Cowan.

The pair, originally from Waringstown Presbyterian Church, have been serving as missionaries in Kenya since 1989.

Also on his itinerary is a visit to the west of Nairobi to greet missionary workers Gary and Mary Reid.

The Reids first went to Kenya from Templepatrick in 2000 and have been working in the Olkinyiei area of the country since 2005.

They have been working with PCEA in church planting and literature distribution among the Maasai people in their spiritual heartland.

"I am really looking forward to meeting and encouraging our Global Mission Workers in the work that they do. In their work, the Cowans and the Reids are working with people, often pastoralists, who are living day-to-day with the impact of climate change," Dr Henry added.

According to the Moderator, climate change will represent a key theme of his visit to the country, with Dr Henry set to meet farmers in the country impacted by the crisis.

"I will also be meeting with Christian Aid Kenya's theological advisor Bob Kikuyu, who I met in Belfast. He will be talking about how the climate emergency impacts Kenya as a whole," he explained.

"While climate change has a greater intrinsic effect on those I will be meeting, we can all do small things that can make a difference."

Rev Uel Marrs, Secretary of PCI's Council for Global Mission, which organised the visit, said: "The overseas visits are an important part of a Moderator's year in office.

"They also contribute to the developing and strengthening of relationships with partner churches and organisations.

"While Dr Henry is in Kenya he will take the opportunity to reflect with the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa on our missional relationship that has lasted for more than half a century now.

"He will also hear of the PCEA's mission initiatives in Kenya and, more recently, their work in Tanzania and Uganda."

Belfast Telegraph