Two warring factions in the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church in Kenya are now embroiled in yet another fight over the usage of the organization’s trademark and logo rights.
This is after the East Kenya Union (EKU) division moved to court on Thursday accusing newly formed Nairobi Cosmopolitan Conference (NCC) of illegally using the Adventist trademark and SDA logo.
In the suit, EKU President Samuel Makori now wants the Commercial Division of the High Court to bar NCC from operating as a religious entity on grounds that it’s registered as a private company with directors.
The case filed under a certificate of urgency lists NCC as the defendant. The Registrar of Companies is listed as an interested party.
EKU which is represented by lawyer Japhet Rachuonyo accuses NCC of infringing on its trademark which is registered under the Kenya Industrial Property Institute.
“The use of the SDA registered trademark by NCC have infringed upon the protection provided to the General Conference under registration with KIPI and under Trademarks Act, and such use by NCC has been without the conference’s authority,” Makori says in a sworn affidavit.
In the case, the pastor further accuses NCC of trespass and invasion of churches affiliated to the Central Kenya Conference (CKC).
Four churches recently announced their exit from the conference over strained relationship and mismanagement of resources by the CKC leadership.
The churches are; Nairobi’s KPCU SDA, Saika West, Mountain View SDA and Makandi SDA that is located in Meru County.
In letters seen by Kahawa Tungu, Saika West and SDA KPCU decamped to NCC last Saturday.
“In reference to the foregoings at CKC, SDA KPCU Church, through a church board on September 7, 2019, and thereafter church business meeting held on September 14, 2019, members unanimously voted that the church ceases to be part of CKC immediately,” a notice reads.
In a similar notice, directed to CKC President Pastor John Kiragu, Saika West Church, notified the conference of their decision, noting that the decision was ‘not contestable.’
“Please note Saika West SDA is united and peaceful. The members plead that their decision be respected under the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Religious Liberty Policies and the Constitution of Kenya on the choice association,” the letter signed by Church clerk Alice Mogambi and Head Elder Peter Nyakundi reads in part.
Mountain View Church members are said to have chased their pastor, Wilson Githinji, citing prolonged strained relationship with the man of the cloth.
This writer understands that pastor Githinji has since been replaced by NCC’s assigned pastor Joseph Parmanyari, who is the immediate Ministerial Secretary of the East Kenya Union Conference (EKUC).
The new developments continue to elicit mixed reactions among members of the SDA church with some asking the leadership of the two wrangling groups to embrace dialogue.
Control of millions of shillings, in tithes and offerings, as well as scholarships, jobs in church-run schools and hospitals, are among issues said to be behind the dispute with NCC accusing CKC of ‘massive corruption’.
Some of the NCC leaders are members of the Nairobi Central SDA Church that was recently closed down by the state over chaotic scenes that paralyzed Sabbath services at the church for weeks.
The leaders accuse the pastorate, Jean Pierre Maiywa and Peter Nyaga of being part of the ‘injustice that has taken over the church’.