Charismatic Pentecostal Churches in Kenya: Growth, Culture and Orality
Nyabwari, B. G.
Kagema, D. N.
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Charismatic Pentecostal churches in Kenya started in the cities and have now extended to the rural areas. The highest percentage of members in the charismatic Pentecostal churches in Kenya as this study established were formerly members of the mainstream churches. This implies, the charismatic churches offer what seems to lack in the mainstream churches. Worldwide, charismatic movements such as the Welsh Revival, Azusa Street Revival, Latter Rain Movement, the Third Wave and the Toronto Blessings began in the early 21st century with a motif to reach the entire globe with the Gospel. Speaking in tongues, singing praises to God, dancing for the Lord and healing among others became the identifying features for the movements. In East Africa, the movement arrived in 1960s and 70s through the ministry of evangelists such as Bill Graham and T.L. Osborne. In Kenya, Joe Kayo, David Kimani, Bethel Mission and Margret Wangari became the first proponents of the movement. This paper examines the growth, culture and orality of the charismatic Pentecostal churches in Kenya. Specifically the paper analyzes the start and development of charismatic Pentecostalism worldwide, distinctive features of the charismatic Pentecostal churches in Kenya and the interpretation of the theology of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Further, the paper investigates the nature and role of testimonies in the churches showing how women and marginalized groups claim to find ‘home’ in the charismatic Pentecostal churches. Data were collected through oral interviews and analysis of data from books, journals and documentaries on charismatic Pentecostalism. The oral informants included the priests, lay leaders and church members from 20 selected charismatic Pentecostal churches in Kenya. The paper singles out charismatic pentecostal churches as a threat to the mainstream churches in Kenya. The churches seem to offer inculturated Christianity which make most Kenyans to feel more spiritually administered unto.