By Douglas LeBlanc
The Archbishop of Canterbury has looked again to Africa in selecting his new adviser on the Anglican Communion. The Very Rev. Sammy Wainaina, provost of All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi, will succeed Bishop Anthony Poggo of South Sudan.
Poggo, who became the Anglican Communion’s secretary general in September, succeeded a Nigerian archbishop, the Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who had served in the role since 2015.
“Provost Sammy has been a dedicated and faithful priest for many years, and a creative and evangelistic Provost of All Saints Cathedral in Kenya,” Archbishop Justin Welby said in a brief statement released by Lambeth Palace.
“I’m grateful that he will be joining the diverse team at Lambeth Palace, supporting us in our ministry to and with the global Anglican Communion. His ministry in parish and cathedral life, combined with his experience across different Anglican traditions, will be a valuable contribution to the senior team at Lambeth.”
Wainaina will work in a less visible manner than he has at the cathedral. He has been a regular critic of Kenya’s political leaders, from rejecting state-sanctioned prayers to challenging President William Ruto to declare his wealth. But he also urged Kenyans not to heckle the nation’s departing president, Uhuru Kenyatta, in September 2022.
As described in Lambeth Palace’s statement, Wainaina will “support and advise the Archbishop of Canterbury in his role in the Anglican Communion,” and will spend time on administrative tasks, such as “coordinating the Archbishop’s visits within the Anglican Communion, and managing correspondence from and about the Anglican Communion that comes to Lambeth Palace.”
Wainaina has studied in African schools (St. Paul’s Theological College, Kapsabet, and St. Paul’s University, Limuru) and the United Kingdom (Reading University). He earned a Doctor of Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
GAFCON, a frequent critic of Archbishop Welby, has shown an interest in Wainaina’s ministry as the dean of All Saints’ Cathedral. He was featured in a podcast interview in June 2021, and he wrote a reflection (“Why GAFCON?”) in 2018.
Paul Kurgat of Kenyans.co.ke quoted Bishop Joseph Galgalo, assistant bishop of the Diocese of All Saints, as saying Lambeth Palace had approached Wainaina about the role in June 2022. He said Wainaina agreed to accept the role by November, with the blessing of the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, Archbishop of Kenya.
“I am delighted to be appointed as the Advisor for Anglican Communion Affairs,” Wainaina said in a statement released by Lambeth Palace. “It is my hope that my experience in serving the Church of Kenya, especially the All Saints’ Cathedral, Nairobi, will contribute positively to the Anglican Communion. I thank Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit for his trust and blessing.”
Sapit is among the Global South archbishops who have denounced the Church of England’s decision to authorize blessings for same-sex couples. Like several other African archbishops, he has said the next meeting of GAFCON will discuss the future of the Anglican Communion’s leadership.