To publicise or not to? It was a bold new start for Kenya’s top Anglican cleric when he exchanged wedding vows at a private ceremony at the Coast in nuptials that have had Kenyans talking, albeit in low tones.
Two weeks ago, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala wedded the Rev Rhoda Luvuno at St Peter’s Church in Nyali, Mombasa at a ceremony presided over by diocese bishop Julius Kalu.
The Rev Luvuno previously worked in Nairobi and her new husband, the church's head in Kenya, is a father of five adult children and had been a widower since 2010 when his wife died.
While the remarriage of Archbishop was supported by some of the clergy and the flock, others have been critical of the way allegedly low-key manner the union was conducted.
Many Kenyans were not aware of the intended nuptials until the media caught wind of it, days after. The Anglican church in the east African country counts five million as its members, according to 2006 World Council of Churches figures.
But those who support the prelate argue that it was his right to have a wedding the way he did — privately.
Bishop Beneah Salala of the ACK diocese of Mumias in western Kenya said those raising issues should respect the top cleric’s private life.
Bishop Salala said Archbishop Wabukala had informed all the bishops of the church about the way he wanted to conduct his marriage without anything to hide.
"He informed us in writing about the way he wanted the entire exercise done, and we respect his decision because the issue is a private one,” he told Kenya's Daily Nation when contacted to react on claims that the head of the ACK church skipped crucial stages in the marriage.
Bishop Salala said he would later divulge to the press the written communication between him and Archbishop Wabukala.
But the main bone of contention among the critics is the claim that the head of the church did not publicise the banns — the public declaration of an intended marriage, usually formally announced on three successive Sundays in the parish churches of those planning to wed.
A senior clergy in the Anglican Church who works closely with the prelate admitted that the banns were not published in the home churches of the bride and groom as was the requirement.
"The Anglican Church marriage rules are clear that the banns must be published three times so that anybody with an objection may come up during the said period,” said a senior clergy at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.
Most of the church's staff interviewed by the Daily Nation were reluctant to comment, claiming that they could face disciplinary action for questioning the actions their leader.
Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the Provincial Secretary, who handles administrative matters for the Anglican Church in the country, said she did not wish to discuss the matter because it was a personal issue.
"I do not want to discuss a personal issue, but I believe everything was done according to all the legal requirements of the land."
She, however, declined to comment on the fact that the banns were not announced as per the church’s requirement.
But a priest in Kisumu said the move by the archbishop had put them in a dilemma in as far as implementing the rules of the church regarding marriage were concerned.
He said: “As church leaders, we must walk in the light if we want to be taken seriously. We are living at a time when the church has lost a lot of credibility due to the action of our leaders. As the head of the church, he ought to walk the talk.
"How do I turn away someone who says that he wants to fly out of the country and therefore cannot wait for the mandatory 21-day notice yet the head of the church did not go through the same procedure?” asked the cleric who sought anonymity.
He added: “We have been working closely with the archbishop but this sets a bad precedent. If we are to encourage our flock to walk in the light, we must ourselves lead by example.
"Those seeking to wed in the church might use the incident to challenge our requirement that they must notify the public on their intention to tie the knot.”
But as the Scriptures say, laws were made for man, not man for laws.
The Most Rev Wabukala is the fifth primate of the Anglican Church in Kenya. He succeeded Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi in 2009.