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An inculturative critique of Holy Communion symbols within the Anglican community of the Diocese of Thika, Kenya.

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Holy Communion symbols (wafers and wine) were new phenomenon when they were introduced in the Anglican Church in Kenya. This study seeks to investigate how the diocesan Christians in Thika have constructed meaning around these symbols and the extent to which these symbols have been indigenised in the diocesan context. The study findings disclose that there is discontent in use of Holy Communion symbols in the Anglican tradition due to different contexts. As symbols are contextual, their use in some Provinces has been perceived as a locus of alienation of the people, rather than salvation. The result has been an unofficial rise of substitution of these symbols in most Provinces in the Anglican Communion, because they are not only foreign symbols, but sometimes offensive to the people they are intended to communicate. In the diocese of Thika, Christians have socially constructed diverse meaning on these symbols as meaning varies and is amplified when symbols are taken out of their context. The study established that these symbols are understood as a symbol of the body and blood of Jesus Christ as universally shared Christian experience in the globe. However, it emerged other diverse meanings constructed by diocesan Christians viewed them as foreign products, prohibited products, symbol of modernity and symbol of neo-colonialism. The study applied inculturation theory as the framework to unearth the contextual meaning of Holy Communion symbols constructed by diocesan Christians as well as how these symbols have been indigenised in Thika. Methodologically, this study was a qualitative research where sixty-seven participants from twenty-five parishes in the diocese were engaged. Semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and questionnaires were engaged while thematic and discourse analyses were used in data analysis. The analysis of the findings suggested dynamic selective (equivalence) inculturation of the Holy Communion symbols. Therefore, the study concludes first, that the diocesan Christians ascribe more to Holy Communion symbols as symbol of the body and blood of Christ in relation to the other constructed meaning. Second, the diocese is conservative, highly influenced by diachronic logic of conscious tradition and its inherited evangelical roots from the English Church. In spite of the imported meaning, Holy Communion symbols been contextualized in the diocese of Thika where there are marginal voices urging for the use of indigenous symbols of nourishment that would communicate to people effectively and lead them to experience God in a more revitalized way in their context.


Ph. D. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Anglican communion--Kenya., Lord's Supper., Acculturation--Kenya., Theses--Theology.