Kenya gets its first woman pastor -- big step for Africa

The struggle of Kenyan women to advance in African society has moved a step forward with the ordination of a woman as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Jane Nyambura Njoroge's ordination is actually a double breakthrough. It is a big step for Christians in Kenya as well, who privately, though not publicly, have resisted the idea of women pastors.

Jane Njoroge's step ahead was helped by the Rev. John Gatu, the Presbyterian moderator who ordained her. He made the case for women in the priesthood, saying there is nothing in the Bible or theology to stop a woman from becoming a priest.

There is at least one more woman filling a religious leadership position in East Africa. Two years ago Lucia Okuthe was ordained as a deacon in the Anglican Church of the province of Kenya. The appointment sets Mrs. Okuthe on her way toward becoming a priest.

Five years ago Kenyan Anglican bishops decided that ordination of women for the priesthood should be held back for lack of a sufficient number of qualified women. On another occasion, Kenya's Anglican archbishop said he felt Kenya was not yet ready for female ministers.

A small but powerful group of women are fighting against sex discrimination in all strata of Kenya's heavily male-dominated society. One big breakthrough was appointment of a woman judge to the Kenya High Court.

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