The Church Shared By Anglicans and Presbyterians, St Cuthbert’s Church, Limuru, Kenya
Written by MaureenK on November 28, 2022
Our train is in the Limuru area of Kenya, a tea-growing zone. The Agikuyu people of the central region of Kenya had a prophet, a seer known as Mugo wa Kibiru. He could foresee the future and warn the people of the mountain of any impending danger. He once told of a people with frog-like skin and brightly colored butterflies. The central region would be invaded by these strange people, vomited from a snake that wound its way around the mountain area.
This prophecy came to pass at the beginning of the 20th century when Europeans began to inhabit the Kikuyu region and the upper lands of the central part of Kenya. The region was more attractive to them due to its fresh and crisp air and fertile soil for farming. They forcefully pushed the natives from the rich farmlands down to the semi-arid area of Ndeiya which is rocky without stable rainfall patterns. The Church of Scotland mission had settled in the Kikuyu area and was ministering to the African people as they acquired more land. The increasing European populace required a place of worship and a European farmer donated a sizable tract of land where the church would be built.
However, the Africans were not allowed to worship in the same church much as they worshiped the same God. St. Cuthbert Church was founded in 1912, in Redhill, Limuru. The initial building was constructed using corrugated iron sheets, but a gothic architectural style permanent structure was put up due to an increase in the number of European settlers. The new building had a 200-sitting capacity and the corrugated iron sheet structure was handed over to the Africans. The church compound had a graveyard that dates to around 1927; however, African elders were buried after Kenya gained independence.
As the mau mau fought to reclaim back their lands a state of emergency was declared and both Europeans and Africans stopped attending the services due to insecurity, in fact, the church for Africans was demolished and that material was used to set up a church for them in the areas for which they had been transferred to and the keys to the main church at Redhill left under the care of the African elders. Saint Cuthbert church was again reopened in 1963 and for the first time, Africans worshiped in this church.
The natives bought back their ancestral land and settled peacefully and over the years developed the church. In 1965 the Anglican Church of Kenya asked if they could also use the same facilities for their services and their request was granted. The elders came up with a schedule that served both congregants for 17 years; the Anglican Church would have their service early in the morning, followed by the presbyterian services until the Anglicans built their own church across from Saint Cuthbert in 1982. A more spacious permanent church was opened in 2004 as the congregation’s membership grew over time. The old structure still stands today and is in good condition after it was renovated and funded by Redhill Foundation, belonging to one of the long-time serving African members of this church.
The next time you visit Kenya, make your way to the Redhill church and learn more about this beautiful old monument.