By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
Have you ever wondered why we have at least 2 stained glass windows at Kenilworth Union Church that highlight the World Council of Churches (the window on the right when you walk up the front steps of the church, and one of the windows in the Centennial Room)?
I hope part of our attentiveness to the World Council of Churches might be tied to the legacy of African theologian John Mbiti. Mbiti was an Anglican priest who was born in Kenya, was educated at Cambridge, and among other scholarly positions, was employed at the World Council of Churches in Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland bringing together people across the globe around cultural and religious understanding.
His writing and teaching worked to shift the Western stereotypes about African religions, overturning colonial-era conclusions that African tribal religions were inherently “anti-Christian” or “savage,” long-held thorny attitudes that were ultimately foundational to legitimizing slavery and white supremacy.
He says, “God described in the Bible is none other than the God who is already known in the framework of traditional African religiosity.”
The prayer below is from John Mbiti’s long list of names for God used by distinct peoples throughout Africa “where religious sensibility was originally shaped by strong communal experience and closeness to nature.” May God meet you there.
Let us pray:
O Great Mother,
You see all,
You are everywhere.
To you we confide our troubles.
You have been there from ancient times,
And we can turn to you when everything is upside down.
Your glory shines in mist and rainbow,
You embrace all,
You do not let us down,
You carry us on your back,
You bear the world into being.
Hear us, O One who blesses.
And be heard in all the world.
— John Mbiti, 1931–2019
Tomorrow, we continue a nine week study on the Lord’s prayer: online Wednesdays at 9 a.m. We hope you will join us.