- When Protestants first arrived in the territory comprising modern Kenya, they found a land inhabited by a variety of African peoples, most notably the Masai and the Kikuyu. A weakened Muslim culture, previously ravaged by Portuguese forces, still existed along the Indian Ocean coast.Johann Ludwig Krapf (1810-81), a German Lutheran missionary sponsored by the Church Missionary Society, led the establishment of the Church of England in Kenya beginning in 1844. Following his retirement in 1855, he published an account of his pioneering efforts, and briefly returned to Kenya to assist Charles New (184075) in starting the Methodist mission in 1862. Representatives arrived from the Church of Scotland in 1891 and the African Inland Mission in 1895.British hegemony of the region grew in the late 19th century, and in 1895 British East Africa was established as a protectorate. The British quickly built a railroad connecting Uganda (which it also controlled) with the coast. Its completion across the country in 1901 facilitated the further entrance of a variety of missionaries.Protestantism in Kenya has been marked by the emergence of numerous African Initiated Churches. Among the first to succeed was the Nomiya Luo Church, created by former Anglicans in 1914. Prominent Kenyan AICs include the African Church of the Holy Spirit (1927), the Kenyan Foundation of the Prophets Church (1927), the National Independent Church of Africa (1929), and the Gospel Furthering Church (1936). AICs were quick to respond to Pentecostalism, after missionaries arrived in 1910 from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. The African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa, formed in 1925 with indigenous leadership, emerged late in the century as the third-largest church in the country. The Friends movement (see Quakers) has been successful, too; the East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends is now the largest Quaker body outside of North America.Kenya is one of the most Christianized countries in the world, with approximately 75 percent of the population affiliated with a Christian denomination. As the new century begins, of Kenya's 20-million-plus population, 6 million belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Church of Kenya has almost 3 million members and the Africa Inland Church approximately 1.5 million members. The African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa also has more than a million; it is now rivaled by the New Apostolic Church, which only arrived in the 1970s. Pentecostalism now counts adherents in the millions. Joining the Independent Pentecostal Church are the Church of God of Prophecy, the Kenya Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, and the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa, all of which count their membership in the hundreds of thousands.More than 100 African Initiated Churches exist; in addition, the missions were transformed into autonomous church bodies in the years after World War II, especially after Kenya was granted independence in 1963. Nairobi has emerged as an important African Christian center; it hosts both the All Africa Conference of Churches, affiliated with the World Council of Churches,and the Association of Evangelicals of Africa, representing the World Evangelical Alliance.Ecumenical work manifested early in Kenya with the formation of the Alliance of Protestant Missions in 1918, the root organization of the present National Christian Council of Kenya. Kenyan-based churches that are affiliated with the council (and the World Council of Churches) include the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church of Kenya, and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. The largest of the evangelical churches, the Africa Inland Church, continues the mission established by the Africa Inland Mission (AIM) as its first effort in world evangelism. AIM International still supports several hundred personnel in the country.In 1968, a year before Religious Rights were spelled out in the country's constitution, the government nationalized all of the mission-run primary schools. Church-sponsored religious classes are allowed in the schools, though students have the right to refuse such instruction.See also Africa, sub-Saharan.Further reading:■ David B. Barrett, G. K. Mambop, J. MacLaughlin, and M. J. McVeigh, eds., Kenya Churches Handbook: The Development of Kenyan Christianity, 1498-1973 (Kisumu, Kenya: Evangel Press, 1973)■ F K. Githieya, The Freedom of the Spirit: African Indigenous Churches in Kenya (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997)■ Z. J. Nthamburi, ed., From Mission to Church: A Handbook of Christianity in East Africa (Nairobi, Kenya: uzima Press, 1991).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.