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Presbyterian Church of East Africa

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Title: Presbyterian Church of East Africa  
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Subject: World Communion of Reformed Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, Robert Philp (missionary), World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Presbyterianism
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Presbyterian Church of East Africa

Presbyterian Church of East Africa
Classification Protestant
Theology Reformed Calvinist
Governance Presbyterian
Leader Rev. David Riitho Gathanju[1]
Associations World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, National Council of Churches
Region Kenya
Founder Thomas Watson
Origin 1891
Branched from Church of Scotland
Congregations 1,000 and 310 parishes and hundreds of house fellowships
Members 4,000,000
Primary schools dozens
Secondary schools dozens

Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) is a Presbyterian denomination headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya alone 79% of the population is part of the Christian community.[2] It was started by missionaries from Scotland, most notable of whom was Dr John Arthur. It has its headquarters in Nairobi South C.



The story of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) begins with a business company, when in 1889 Sir William Mackinnon and Mr. Alexander low Bruce, made private plans for a Scottish Mission among the Kamba and Maasai and later to the Kikuyu people. In 1891, at the invitation of the late Sir William Mackinnon, Mr. A.L. Bruce and other directors of the Imperial British East Africa chartered Company, a band of Missionaries left London for British East Africa. These were Mr. Thomas Watson, Evangelist Mr. John Greig, Mr. John Linton, Mr. C.M.A Rahman and were met at Mombasa by Dr. Moffat. The party was later in the year joined by Dr. James Stewart of Lovedale, South Africa, who became the leader of the Mission. These missionaries arrived in Kibwezi in October of the same year and established a mission under the name of the "East African Scottish Mission". In 1892, the first temporary Church at Kibwezi was opened by Dr. James Stewart, and also the first School with two pupils.

In 1893 mission work was strengthened by the arrival of Mr. John Paterson who introduced basic agriculture and the first coffee seeds.

Owing to the infestation of Kibwezi by Malaria and the subsequent loss of life of Missionaries, Mr. Thomas Watson visited Dagoretti in 1894 to explore possibilities of transferring the mission station. In 1898 the missionaries moved from Kibwezi to Dagoretti where they constituted themselves as the "Church of Scotland Mission" (CMS). In 1900 Watson died of pneumonia.


When the mission was handed over to the Church of Scotland, God continued to use it for the building up of a company of believers among the Kikuyu people through the work of its stations at Kikuyu and Tumutumu (1908) and among the Meru people in Chuka, and Mwimbi, and among the people of Imenti through its work at Chogoria (1915)

In 1920, by the authority of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland of 1918, a form of Church government was set up and inaugurated by Very Reverend J.N. Ogilvie, Elders ordained, Parish Sessions formed for the Congregations of Kikuyu, Tumutumu and St. Andrew's, Nairobi and the Presbytery of British East Africa instituted, to exercise jurisdiction over these Congregations. In the same year (1920) ordination of the first native elders took place in Kikuyu. It is not until 1926 when the ordination of the First African Pastors took place namely, the Rev. Musa Gitau, the Rev. Benjamin Githieya and the Rev. Joshua Matenjwa, at Kikuyu.


In 1936 the separation of the overseas Presbytery of Kenya to cater for the colonial and continental work was done by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In 1946 the gospel missionary society (GMS) an American oriented Church based at Kambui in Kiambu, joined the overseas Presbytery of Kenya. These merger acted as a catalyst for Church growth. In 1952 authority was given to the overseas Presbytery of Kenya by the general assembly of the Church of Scotland to begin conversation with the synod of Presbyterian Church of East Africa with a view to seeking a basis for uniting the Presbyterian work in East Africa in one Church. In 1956 the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and the overseas Presbytery of Kenya, declared the Congregations over which they had several jurisdiction united as one Church whose constitution was then adopted.


Recently, PCEA has grown at a very high rate. Indeed, it is assumed to be the fastest growing church in east and central Africa. Currently, it has 54 presbyteries and hundreds of parishes headed by the current Moderator of The 20th General Assembly Rt. Rev David Riitho Gathanju. Some of the notable and dynamic congregations are PCEA st Andrews Church,PCEA Bahati Martyrs' church, PCEA Mai-a-Ihii church and PCEA Ondiri church. These churches have growing ministries within Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) and Kiambu county. Some of notable Ministers serving within this region are Rev. Mwamba, Rev. Karanja, Rev. Nduwamungu and Rev. Zachary Gioko.


The Presbyterian Church in Eastern Africa has approximately 4,000,000 members,[3] over 1,000 congregations and 310 parishes and hundreds of house fellowships.[3] [4] The denomination has currently 54 presbyteries, divided into 5 regions, these are the Eastern Region, Central region, Nairobi region, Mt Kenya Region and Rift Valley Region.[5]

In Tanzania there are approximately 2 Presbyterian Churches in Eastern Africa Presbyteries. The denomination begun to work in Tanzania in 1950.[6]



In the local level there are congregation, the congregation is governed by the session. The middle governing body is the presbytery. The highest court is the General Assembly. The church does not have Synods.[8]

Ministry partners


  1. ^ "Moderator_profile". 24 April 1957. 
  2. ^ "Kenya." The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Abington: Helicon, 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 17 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Presbyterian Church of East Africa – World Council of Churches". 28 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "". 
  5. ^ "Presbyteries". 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek. "Adressdatenbank reformierter Kirchen und Einrichtungen". 
  8. ^ "Structure". 

External links

  • PCEA website
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