During her time in the United States while away from her home in Kenya, the Rev. Angela Kamuyu has made the St. Mark Presbyterian Church, in Ballwin, Missouri, her church home away from home. She began attending St. Mark in September 2016 when she began her advance degree studies at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves.
Pastor Angela’s time with St. Mark has afforded her the opportunity to learn more about how networking, church organization and hospitality influence a congregation’s growth. In turn, she hopes to leave something behind for her St. Mark family: “A friendship bond that will connect two worlds and continue even in the future.” She will be preaching here sometime this spring, before she returns home.
As a child growing up in Kenya, Pastor Angela Kamuyu had a passion for helping others, and eventually found the perfect platform: service to her church.
“I longed to be in the holy ministry, reaching the unreached with the word and serving through the gospel, as it would fulfill that desire for me,” Pastor Angela said.
In her native country, Pastor Angela serves with the Presbyterian Church Of East Africa (PCEA) which partners with PCUSA to which St. Mark belongs. The Presbyterian Church, of East Africa primarily covers Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and is the second largest denomination in Kenya.
The size of the Kenyan church congregations vary depending on location, ranging from a single congregation of a thousand or more, to several hundred, to a small congregation of tens. Though the size may vary, all churches share a single purpose: to fulfill the duties of the word and the sacrament. Pastor Angela has served several congregations at the same time, on a regular, rotating schedule.
“Besides spiritual welfare, our church works to help the less fortunate in the society and in the areas of health, education and the environment, and teaming with other institutions, like prisons,” Pastor Angela says.
Just as Pastor Angela’s drive to help others led her to a life of service with the Presbyterian church, her basic need to move beyond her comfort zone brought her to another continent. Armed with a scholarship and a desire to develop a deeper understanding of the Old Testament through the context of a different culture, Pastor Angela came to the Eden Seminary in St. Louis to study.
When she completes her master’s degree in theology, Pastor Angela plans to return to Kenya with new ways to contribute, not only to her own congregation, but to the larger church system. She will graduate with a Master’s degree from Eden Seminary on May 18.
Among the challenges Pastor Angela will face when she returns home is overcoming the belief that women do not belong in positions of power in the church.
“Women’s representation in church is minimal,” she says. “They are not in the hierarchical structure—not in the top helm position. More should be done to encourage women’s participation in the church decision-making in general and inclusion in the top officials of the church.” Angela serves in Presbyterian Church of East Africa, which is associated with the PC-USA.
It is an ongoing process, Pastor Angela says, to educate Christians that women can bring about social change and change societal structures and institutions for the better.
“It is a bid to change the historical patriarchy and better appreciate women’s identity and to accept women of authority—which at times is not fully embraced, barely recognized or looked down upon,” Pastor Angela explains.
The struggle to assume leadership roles is one that is familiar to many women in the United States, as well, but Pastor Angela offers hope for those working to make inroads in both countries. Her Master’s dissertation is: “Appreciating the contribution of women in leadership roles through the example of prophet Huldah,” based on scripture in II Kings 22.
“With the right exposure, support and encouragement, women can pursue their passions and excel in any fields that have previously been deemed not for women,” she says. “When women understand the potential that they possess, they can create, add or empower already existing systems, structures and leaders for the better— from the smallest unit of the society that is family, all the way up to our nations.”
Pastor Angela’s theological interests also include the role that Christians can play in environmental stewardship. In the future, she hopes to see churches develop alongside other groups, companies and organizations in advancing environmental initiatives. On a broad scale, she would also like to see churches provide multi-generational outreach programs to help promote a greener, safer environment. Tools that St. Mark might consider include creation of a “green” check list; adoption of water and energy conservation programs; programs and church services about protecting our natural resources; use of more local, recycled or upcycled materials; and partnerships with local environmental organizations.
Pastor Angela’s visit to the United States comes at a time of great political dialogue on the subject of immigration. As Christians, she says we have the ability to lead that conversation.
“The church leaders have a great influence at the negotiation and dialogue table with the government,” she says.
“Christians have the role to make sure that the policies and law of the land do not go beyond human compassion and rights.”
Pastor Angela’s time with St. Mark has afforded her the opportunity to learn more about how networking, church organization and hospitality influence a congregation’s growth. In return, she hopes to leave something behind for her St. Mark family: “A friendship bond that will connect two worlds and continue even in the future.”
From the St Mark Presbyterian Church, The Messenger Newsletter, April and May 2018 Issues
St. Mark Presbyterian Church
601 Claymont Drive
Ballwin, MO 63011