News Story

Meet Nairobi's Newest LDS Bishop

Brother Peter Kirima becomes the newest bishop of the Mormon faith installed in Kenya.

The duties of a bishop in the Mormon faith are often very demanding. A bishop is the leader of a local congregation (known as a ward) with duties similar to those of a pastor, priest or rabbi. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this position is unpaid. Thus each Bishop has to earn his own living, take care of his family as well as pastor over his congregation.  Although there is no stipulated period of service, it is common for a bishop to serve his congregation for about five years, after which he returns to the body of the congregation.

A bishop holds the priesthood and is ordained to the office of bishop by a more senior Church leader. Other priesthood holders support the bishop in his duties, including two counselors or advisers. In addition, the bishop receives help from a ward council consisting of men and women who hold distinct, major responsibilities for members of the flock, young and old.

Together, the bishopric oversees the spiritual and temporal needs of their ward members. The bishop helps each member of his congregation in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ. In addition to spiritual matters, a bishop helps members who are struggling financially or in other ways to become self-reliant through welfare assistance. A bishop also oversees practical matters such as records, reports, finances and the meetinghouse where members meet.

On Sunday, 12th October 2014, Bishop Peter Kirima became the newest Bishop ordained in Kenya. At thirty four, his life experience has prepared him for this great task ahead, of shepherding the newly created South B ward. He was raised in Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi and joined the Church when he was 21. Since then his service to the Church has been inspiring. He served a full-time mission for the Church in Zimbabwe in the years 2002 and 2004 where he learned a lot about the human spirit. He is married to Jennifer Kirima and they are expecting their first child.

Kenya Mormon Newsroom sat down with Bishop Kirima and asked him some questions:

Tell us your childhood experience growing up?

"I come from a family of six, 3 boys and 3 girls. We grew up in Kibera, which is one of the largest informal settlements in Africa. Life in Kibera as I knew it was very basic and there were many difficult challenges. When you become aware of yourself as a child, all you want is to one day be able to leave the slum. There are also a lot of distractions that can make someone to lose focus of the things that matter. I made up my mind very early in my life to be a focused person."

When you were growing up did you think you would one day be a Bishop?

"No no no. It never crossed my mind. But I have always been spiritual."

How did you join the Church?

"I was referred to the Church by a friend. Sister missionaries spoke to me about the gospel and I had a warm feeling. When I chose to join, it was a trying time, since no members of my family were members."

Tell us about your family?

"My wife, Jennifer, and I are expecting our first child in six weeks."

How did you feel when you were sustained to be the new Bishop of South B?

"First there was some excitement, then fear of not being adequate. The feeling of excitement awakened my spirit, but I was overwhelmed by the heavy mantle of the calling a bishop carries."

The calling of a bishop demands a lot from those who are called. What life experiences do you feel have prepared you for this calling?

"First, I would say growing up in Kibera as a young person helped me to become sensitive to the circumstances and feelings of other people. As a bishop you shepherd people with different circumstances, you need to know each person is unique and a Child of Heavenly Father.

Secondly, serving a full-time mission for the Church for two years helped me considerably. I saw the lives of people change as they embraced the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel indeed changes lives for the better.

I must say I have learned a lot from Bishop Moses Alumande of Upper Hill Ward whom I have served with in the bishopric for close to six years. He has taught me a lot about what it means to be humble." 

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