Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa

By Amy Stambach | Go to book overview

5 Planting Church Schools in Kenya

East Africans and Americans associated with nondenominational churches have different ideas of what it means to be educated, and different ideas about agency, transparency, and culture contact—points I began to discuss in the previous chapter. In this chapter I relate my previous discussion about ambiguity and deception to competing conceptions of ownership and governance.

A primary theme of the following pages is that of autochthony—the state of being indigenous and of owning or belonging to a place—used here in relation to questions about to whom the church belongs. The theme of autochthony speaks to how Americans and East Africans in these churches go about “claiming Africa for Christ.” The territory they conquer, as it were, is a global ecumene. All involved see as important the church's project of “paving the way for Christ,” yet what this means in terms of everyday work takes different form depending on who is involved. Americans in these churches suggest that Africans are not yet prepared to run the church independently. Africans, in contrast, regard such assessments as mistaken and as reflections of missionaries' poor judgment and lack of education. In the broadest of terms, such differences reflect different perspectives on knowledge and power. Depending on one's vantage point, the church is more or less an indigenous or foreign institution. Of course all involved consider the church to be theologically universal, but in the matter of administration and governance, church ownership is often framed in terms of who has more and better schooling.

Americans imply that Africans are never educated enough, not even those with degrees from Europe or the United States. On the one hand they speak about turning over the church to African leadership, but on the other hand they refer to the church in Kenya as developmentally stuck in the adolescent stage. “I am not saying we look at our people as children,” one American outreach director in Nairobi put it, “but a transition is taking place. [We are] asking, what are areas in which we need growth? There's a point at which, just like teenagers, they make their mistakes and learn.”

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Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To Friends Here and There v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1: Introduction: Schools of Faith 1
  • Part I - Preparation in the United States 33
  • 2: One Hundred Fifty Years of Mission Work 35
  • 3: Using Anthropology for Christian Witness 65
  • Part II - Evangelism in East Africa 97
  • 4: Teaching English in Tanzania 99
  • 5: Planting Church Schools in Kenya 132
  • 6: School-Community Partnerships in Uganda 154
  • Part III - Implications 179
  • 7: A New Anthropological Ethnography of Religion and Education 181
  • Epilogue 193
  • Reference Matter 197
  • Notes 199
  • References 209
  • Index 225
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