The Bishop of Connor had the opportunity to reflect on his personal experiences in Kenya when he spoke at a Commissioning Service for CMSI Mission Partners Ronnie and Maggie Briggs.
The couple, who are two of CMSI’s longest serving partners, recently returned to Kajiado Diocese where they will build on a relationship that has lasted for almost 30 years.
Speaking at the Commissioning Service, in the Briggs’ ‘home’ church of Magherally, Diocese of Down and Dromore, Bishop Alan Abernethy echoed the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians Chapter 1, saying: “I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.”
Having visited Kajiado himself in recent years, Bishop Alan talked about the transformational impact his experiences in Kenya have had on his own life and ministry and encouraged the congregation to remember Ronnie and Maggie in prayer as they “returned to their beloved Kajiado” for a “vital and important work.”
Among the 200 guests at the service were representatives from the 23 parishes linked to Kajiado and dozens of short-term volunteers who have spent time working in the Diocese. The service was led by the Rev John McCammon – who had also previously served alongside Ronnie and Maggie in Kenya – and Archdeacon Joel Awili, from Kajiado.
Ronnie and Maggie first visited Kajiado in 1978 and began working in the diocese, as CMS Ireland Mission Partners, in 1981. In that time they have seen the local church, under the leadership of Bishop Jeremiah Taama, grow from one parish into a thriving diocese committed to holistic mission – to meeting the spiritual and physical needs of its people.
Over the years Ronnie and Maggie have played a key role in helping to facilitate much of the development work that takes place across the diocese, including the provision of bore holes and wells; the establishment of vocational training centres; the building and refurbishment of schools; and the enabling of basic healthcare.
Central to this work has been an ongoing partnership with the Church in Ireland and the Briggs’ have often acted as an invaluable lynchpin to make this relationship possible. During their 30 years of service they have recruited, trained and hosted more than 300 short-term volunteers from Ireland alone.
Also commissioned during the service was Rev Naftlay Lemooke, who has been studying at Belfast Bible College for the past nine months. Naftaly, from Kajiado, has been specialising in a ‘training for trainers’ course and is keen to put new-found skills and insights to work in the wider diocese on his return.
Speaking about the service Niall Manogue, CMS Ireland’s Regional Mission Partner for Mid and East Africa said: “Events like this bear testament to the two-way nature of the links between Kajiado and Ireland. When it comes to partnership we all have things to learn from each other – and this is a fantastic demonstration of that.”
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