Kenyan church to honor its founding missionary to mark the province’s 50th anniversary

Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit greeting President Uhuru Kenyatta at the start of the golden jubilee service at All Saints Cathedral Nairobi

The Anglican Church of Kenya will build a chapel and monument to the first Western Christian missionary to East Africa, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit said yesterday.

Speaking from All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on 1 Nov 2020 during a golden jubilee service marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the ACK as an independent province before a congregation that included President Uhuru Kenyatta, Archbishop Ole Sapit said the church had requested planning permission from the state to erect a church honoring John Ludwig Krapf.

In 1844 Krapf began mission work in East Africa, and was joined in 1846 by Johannes Rebmann and In 1848 they completed construction of the first western Christian Church in in Rabai.

The archbishop said the ACK sought to “erect a monument to remind us of the first journey of Ludwig Krapf where he met fishermen who introduced him to the village elders who led him to establish the church,.”

He added they would work with local government officials in Rabai and “will be more than willing to team up with the ministry and join our resources to erect the monument which will remind us of our history because it is important to keep important histories of our beginning,” 

As a Lutheran priest serving under the Basel Mission, in 1836 he was invited by the CMS to join their mission team in Ethiopia. After the Ethiopian emperor expelled all foreign missionaries Krapf received permission from the Sultan of Zanzibar to begin work in Zanzibar. Shortly after he arrived his wife and child died of malaria, prompting him to move 15 miles inland where he established a mission station in Rabai. 

With Rebmann, Krapf explored the central highlands of Kenya and they became the first Europeans to see Mt Kenya and Mt Kilamanjaro.  Krapf was also known for having translated the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer into Southern Swahili. Ill health prompted his return to Germany in 1853.

He is honored by the Anglican Church of Kenya as its founding father.