• April 15, 2024
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The Reflection of The Late Very Rev. Dr. George Wanjau by Very Rev. David Gathanju During the Memorial Service on April 14, 2024


The family of our Church Father the Very Rev. Dr. George Wanjau led by Mrs. Mary Wanjau;
The leadership of Milimani Presbytery;
The leadership of St. Andrews Church;
Brethren in Christ.
I salute you all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord; Praise be to God!

On behalf of the Moderator of the 24th General Assembly, Right Rev. Thegu Mutahi whom I am
representing here today, and who has sent me with greetings of fellowship, I join you this afternoon
as we reflect on the life and times of our departed Church Father, the Very Reverend Dr. George
Ernest Wanjau.

For the lovers of poetry, Marc Antony states in Julius Ceasar by Shakespeare that the evil that men
do lives long after them, while the good is often interred with their bones. However, I refuse to let
the good done by Dr. Wanjau be forgotten and buried. For there is so much he did while he
traversed this world and therefore a lot to learn from his life’s journey. Therefore, unlike Marc
Antony, I not only come to bury Dr. Wanjau, but also to praise him.

The Very Rev. Dr. Wanjau had many faces. He was a son, a husband, father, grandfather, friend,
and mentor. These were faces that those closest to him saw each time they shared some personal
time. But then there were the public faces that most of us knew about him. He was a Minister of
Word and Sacrament with the Presbyterian Church. He was a Parish Minister, a Principal of a
Theological College, a public officer, Moderator of PCEA’s 11th and 12th General Assembly, a
Past Moderator and Church Father, to name but a few. Even from plain sight, it is easy to tell that
Dr. Wanjau lived a life worth living, a life worth learning from, a life worth emulating. But these
achievements did not come easy for the Alliance-trained, Queens English speaking charismatic
preacher. They were results of a focused and dedicated mind of a man after God’s heart.

Dr. Wanjau the father of urban ministry
It is said that experience is the best teacher and certainly, this can be said of our departed Church
Father. From his actions and policies especially as Moderator-General, it is certain that his years
of service at this very place, St. Andrews Church, had a lasting impact and greatly shaped his view
of the church as a whole. For those of us who can recall, those were the days when Nairobi
Presbytery covered the entire coastal region and extended to Uganda and Tanzania. Those were
also the days when this church, St. Andrews, was the only footprint the Presbyterian Church had
in an urban setting. Together with a very dedicated team that included Mr. J.J. Mageria, Crispus
Karingithi, Loise Mereka, Dr. James Kamunge, Joseph Kamere, Dr. Maathai, Engineer Wagana,
and Mr. Solomon Gacece Miano, among others, Dr. Wanjau embarked on mission work,
expanding the reach of the Presbyterian Church in Nairobi. All churches in Nairobi can directly or
indirectly trace their roots to St. Andrews e.g. Kangemi, Kibera, Evergreen and many others. But
opening churches was not the only thing he cared about; he was concerned about the spiritual
growth of the faithful. He recognized early enough that urban ministry was far much different from
rural ministry. During his tenure as Moderator-General, he called on urban churches to be single-
congregation parishes and, where possible, have several ministers in each parish so as to serve the
expansive population. He called for rural parishes to have at most four congregations so that
ministers could effectively serve the faithful at the grassroots. It was also during those years that
St. Andrews invested heavily in other mission fields such as Mashuru area in Maasai region, St.
Andrew’s Tumaini Children’s home, and the sports ministry as ably captured by Elder Gacece
Miano in his book, Ball Bible Bottlebrush. Truly, Dr. Wanjau was not only a missionary; he was
the father of urban ministry in PCEA.

Dr. Wanjau the educationist
It is said that Christianity is a religion of the educated mind. The foundation of PCEA was on the
three pillars of Christianity, Civilization and Commerce, of which civilization was and has been
mainly propelled through education. Indeed the church has played a huge role in the establishment
of schools and institutions of higher learning across our country.

Part of Dr. Wanjau’s mission work involved establishment of schools in remote areas to
accompany churches and health facilities. He was concerned about the well-being of the person as a whole. Upon assuming the office of Moderator-General, the first thing he did was to take a leave
of absence to travel to the USA for his Doctoral Degree. Together with his Secretary General Rev.
Dr. Plawson Kuria, he traversed the globe seeking scholarships for ministers. His regime therefore
encouraged clerics to advance their studies through the identified scholarships. I am proud to note
that I am one of those who heeded to the call and therefore a beneficiary.

Through Dr. Wanjau’s leadership, the dream of establishment of a Presbyterian College at Kikuyu
was actualized. He supervised its construction and oversaw the relocation of student ministers from
Presbyterian Lay Training Centre in Zambezi to the College. He continued to shepherd the college
as its first Principal and left after it was well on its feet. The college has since transitioned to the
Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA).

It is worth noting that Dr. Wanjau surrounded himself with highly educated individuals who
assisted him in his service to the church. The team was fully committed to his vision and
volunteered their time and resources to ensure that the vision was accomplished.

Dr. Wanjau’s educationist credentials were recognized beyond the church; he served in an
education taskforce during the reign of the Second President of the Republic.

Dr. Wanjau the Presbyterian Pentecostalist
Historians will recall that the Presbyterian Church in Kenya was started and moulded by the
Church of Scotland and thus the Scottish roots have been evident even as the church continues to
Africanize. While the Moderatorial tenures of Dr. Calderwood and Robert Macpherson were
mainly involved in creating the necessary structures for the church, Charles Kareri as the first
African Moderator-General commenced its Africanization. On the other hand, Crispus Kiongo,
himself an Alliance High School alumni, was a constitutionalist who ensured that the necessary
governance instruments and church traditions were put in place and strictly followed. Jeremiah
Kiongo Gitau is credited for introduction of pastoral ministry in the church. Prior to his arrival as
Moderator-General, past occupants served in parishes and the role of Moderator-General was part-
time. He posed a very important question: who ministers to the minister? From then henceforth,
the role of Moderator-General has been full-time. He therefore traveled across the church to visit
ministers and their families. On his part, Dr. John Gatu came in with the Jitegemea philosophy that
called on the church to be self-sufficient, self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating.
The wave of Pentecostalism started being felt across the church during Dr. Wanjau’s regime. He
was a Presbyterian Pentecostal at heart. Deeply spiritual and charismatic. He encouraged crusades.
Wherever he visited there would be alter calls. He encouraged Christians to utilize fully their God-
given gifts, including evangelism and speaking in tongues. These were previously unheard of
freedoms in our mutaratara church. He mentored youth and encouraged youth ministry to be at
the centre of church affairs. He expanded the gender space by encouraging and supporting women
in active ministry. Consequently, the church experienced spiritual awakening. To his credit, the
seeds that he planted then germinated and have fully grown. The church has evolved into a
Pentecostal Presbyterian Church that has the spiritual welfare of the faithful at the centre of its

Dr. Wanjau the leader
The Presbyterian Church constitution highlights the qualities of leadership of the individual suited
to occupy the office of Moderator-General. The occupant is to be a person of prayer; God’s
missionary; a role model; a preacher; hardworking, orderly, thoughtful and full of goodness; gentle
and kind; peace loving, courteous, willing to yield to others where necessary but also able to be
straightforward when situation demands. All these are traits that can easily characterize the life of
the Very Rev. Dr. Wanjau. At times, the church faced serious challenges at the leadership level.
Our Church Father would be there to calm the waters and call for sobriety. But this does not mean
he entertained anything that could potentially harm the church for the sake of peace. I remember
an incident in one of the GAC meetings held in Pwani during his tenure as Moderator-General.
Debate arose from the floor of the meeting that seemed to portray the church in bad light. He was
deeply disturbed by the unfolding events and declared that the church would not be shaken under
his watch. So angry was he that he ended the meeting unceremoniously without even a word of
prayer. As a young minister then, I was shocked by the turn of events. However given the
experiences I also went through as Moderator-General, I am fully bought that at times, some
difficult and somewhat drastic decisions must be made for the welfare of the church.

His thoughtfulness and goodness extended to the welfare of the clergy and their families. By the
time he became Moderator-General, many were facing financial challenges, including lack of
school fees for their children. In 1985, he started the PCEA Sacco and soon after influenced salary
increment for clerics across board. He started a fraternal for ministers’ spouses, a forum that
brought them together to share experiences and encourage each other in their important role of
supporting their spouses in ministry.

Historians will also recall that Dr. Wanjau remains one of the few leaders to tell off the Second
President of the Republic the late His Excellency Daniel Toroitich arap Moi. This was soon after
the 1992 skirmishes that left many Kenyans dead. He led the NCCK, an organization he chaired
for many years, and the Kenya Episcopal Conference then under the leadership of Archbishop
Zacchaeus Okoth, to State House and presented a joint statement titled “People have lost
confidence in you” to the President, castigating his government for the violence that was widely
fueled by sentiments from senior government officials. The statement was later released to the
public and led to a fallout between the government and the church. This was a mark of
forthrightness and courage in view of the grave situation that faced the nation.

Biblical perspective
The Biblical readings of Psalms 92:12-15 and the Gospel according to Matthew 7:15-16 are about
the fruits that come from the lives we lead in this world. Are they fruits of righteousness or evil?
Are they fruits of service to others or fruits of exploiting positions we occupy for our own interests?
Are they fruits of building peace or causing conflict? Are they fruits of spreading the gospel or
tarnishing it? The Bible tells us that the righteous flourish like a palm tree and are still fruitful even
in their old age.

The above illustrations are just but a sneak preview of Dr. Wanjau’s life, accomplishments and
fruits. They are indicators of a man who lived a selfless life, a man who put the interests of people,
church and country before self. A man who utilized every opportunity to change the lives of the
less fortunate for the better. A man who was dedicated to spreading the gospel to unreachable
areas. A man who was focused on assisting the faithful to utilize their talents in line with the
Parable of the Talents as captured in Matthew 25. A righteous man. Yet we know that there is a
time for everything and Dr. Wanjau’s time of service to God and humanity in this world has come
to an end. What we are left with, and what forms his legacy, are the fruits he bore.

As church leaders, are we ready to build on his legacy to build the church from where he has left
us to the next level? As a faithful, are we ready to utilize our God given talents for the service of Christ and His church? As individuals, are we ready to lead lives that are worth emulating? As a
society, are we ready to stand up for the Biblical truth and fight against modern-day social ills or
do we compromise at the altar of political correctness? As a church, are we ready to call out the
government and other organs of state for injustices meted on the people?

May God help us, may God guide us as we reflect on the life of our Church Father, the Very
Reverend Dr. George Wanjau.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.