Seventeen people from across The United Church of Canada participated in the Mission & Service Global Pilgrimage to Kenya, from March 25 to April 4, 2017. The pilgrimage visited Mission & Service partners throughout the region. This series of blog posts shares the story of their journey. 

On the last Sunday of our pilgrimage I attended worship in the Anglican Church of Kenya - St. Veronica Parish with five other members of our group. As we arrived we were welcomed into the end of the first worship service, the “youth service” that was a full house — many who appeared to be in their 20s, lots of couples and young families among the group. The Rev. Charles Kariuki welcomed us to his office after the first service and along with his wife and some church elders we were shown the church building that was under construction. Much like our experience at the Jamia Mosque, there was a palpable disparity between the neighbourhood this congregation was set in, and the church building itself. The church sits at the border of impoverished and middle class neighbourhoods. In the midst of this disparity the expanding church and its primary school sit inviting people in.

A church under construction in Nairobi.
Cheryl Curtis

After our tour it was time to worship. The opening of the service was an overlap of praise music happening from the youth service. Hands were up and people were dancing in the pews! The rest of the service, however, felt very familiar in terms of the liturgy and even the hymns we sang, complete with responses and prayers from The Book of Common Prayer. Despite this there remained a slightly different flavour to the worship and the way Rev. Kariuki led the service from my Canadian experience. I am always grateful for the opportunity to encounter God in different worship spaces. It gives me the chance to reflect deeply on my own beliefs and the ways that I feel called to offer worship…and I am sure I will be reflecting on the seven-point sermon from this experience for some time!

—Rev. Sarah Grady