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Two pastors take on SDA Church over preaching ban

The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) in Kisii has been drawn into a controversy after two pastors, whom the church leadership barred from preaching to faithful, engaged lawyers to challenge the decision.

The two pastors, Martha Isaac and Nixon Matara, who have become a hit with faithful for their preachings, want justice and fair hearing from the church leadership.

As seen in a demand letter dated June 5, 2024, the duo is aggrieved with the decision by the South East Kenya Field (SEKF) leadership to circulate a message indicating that they had been disallowed from preaching in funerals, public evangelism and camp meetings.

“Dear leaders, and pastors, this is to inform you that Pr Matara and Martha Isaak of Matagaro will not be allowed to conduct any services at funerals, public evangelism, and camp meetings until the Field Executive committee sitting in mid-June clears them,” the said message reads in part.

It continues: “This is because of many issues reported about their conduct in funerals. Please give this information to members and elders. They go out including outside SEKF without permission even without host pastors knowing.  Please cooperate on this.”

The Nation contacted SEKF President Pastor James Ondabu on the phone on June 7 and he confirmed that the two preachers had indeed been suspended.

“The church has a protocol to be followed anytime one goes to preach. For instance, I cannot go preaching in Nakuru without following the protocols,” said Pr Ondabu.

The suspension

Through their advocate Wilkins Ochoki, the duo submit that the field leadership committed an administrative error by unilaterally suspending them against the guiding procedural and policy framework of the SDA Church.

Further, Pastors Martha and Matara argue that their suspension goes against the provisions of Article 47 of the Constitution of Kenya on Fair Administrative Action as well as other laws of natural justice.

“In view of the above our clients ought to have been afforded an opportunity to examine the allegations against them and the evidence in support of the same. Moreover, they are guaranteed the right to a fair hearing before any administrative action can be taken against them,” reads the lawyer’s letter.

The two pastors aver that they are members and ordained leaders of the SDA who have been performing their duties diligently which has caused their repute to spread at both national and international levels.

‘Emotional trauma’

The actions of the SEKF against them, they assert, has contravened their right to human dignity, freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion, freedom of expression and the freedom of movement and residence contrary to Articles 28, 32, 33 and 39 of the Constitution of Kenya.

Martha and Matara submit that the field leadership has subjected them to untold mental suffering, emotional trauma and psychological anguish “due to the widespread defamatory statements”.

As a remedy, the aggrieved pastors want the SEKF leadership to pull down the message and issue a public apology to them.

“Take notice and be warned that unless you pull down the message and issue a public apology to our clients within seven days…our firm has irrevocable instructions to institute legal proceedings, in a court of law, needless to say at your own peril as to costs and attendant consequences arising therefrom,” the demand letter reads.

Just a fortnight ago, the church stopped a music extravaganza organised by South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro saying that it was likely to be hijacked by politicians.

rmbula@ke.nationmedia.com

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