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The New Year began with tragedy for many people in Kenya as widespread violence erupted in the wake of contested presidential elections between incumbent President, Mwai Kibaki, and challenger Raila Odinga, held on on December 27th.

Reports coming in from all over Kenya are painting a vivid picture of growing unrest and escalating conflict. According to Reuters, over 300 people have already died in the clashes between rival factions and the police.

The Kenyan capital city of Nairobi houses the Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary and St. George Orthodox Church lies nearby in the heart of the Kibera slums – the largest in Africa and a flash point for much of the recent violence.

In a phone conversation with OCMC Executive Director, Fr. Martin Ritsi, His Eminence, the Cypriot Archbishop Makarios (Tillyrides) of Kenya indicated that many homes of Orthodox Christians in Kibera have been burned, and displaced residents in the area are seeking safety and shelter within the confines of the St. George Orthodox Church compound. He states that three churches (not Orthodox) have been razed in Kibera thus far, and similar instances have been seen in Western Kenya as well.

The Archbishop went on to report that several Orthodox priests had seen their homes destroyed losing everything to fires set by angry mobs. Some of these priests are now taking refuge at the seminary which has been temporarily closed. Food has become scarce in Nairobi and people are staying home fearing continued troubles.

Before hanging up, His Eminence urged calm and encouraged all Orthodox Christians to pray for peace in Kenya. May the people of Kenya, guided by the Holy Spirit, find this peace through unity in a common Father and by the mercies of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ.

In addition to providing financial support to the Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary, Kenyan ministries have received OCMC Agape grants. Kenya has been home to 17 OCMC missionaries in the past, and 182 Orthodox Christians from North America have served there as part of an Orthodox Mission Team since 1987. Currently, the faithful support 155 Kenyan priests enrolled in OCMC’s Support a Mission Priest (SAMP) program. Please e-mail for more information about the Mission Center or its work abroad.

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