By Samuel Waititu
The African Independent Pentecostal Church of Kenya (AIPCK) has been thrown into mourning following the death of its spiritual leader Archbishop John Baptista Mugecha.
Until his death, Archbishop Mugecha, 72, was the head of the church that started as breakaway splinter group of the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) 30 years ago following leadership wrangles.
The church has over 400 branches countrywide with the headquarters being located in Githunguri, Kiambu County.
According to his family, Mugecha who hails from Muthinga village of Tetu Sub-county, Nyeri died of colon cancer at the Outspan Hospital at around 10.30 pm.
His eldest son, Fredrick Karume, said his father started ailing in July last year and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with the disease.
Karume said he was immediately placed under chemotherapy treatment up to December when he competed his last session and had shown signs of improvement.
However, he reported that his father’s condition worsened on January 4, and was rushed to Outspan where he was undergoing treatment until the time of his death.
The history of the church dates back to 1990’s when the mother church, AIPCA, witnessed a shake up after some bishops among them Mugecha, started positioning themselves to take over from Archbishop Benjamin Kahihia who was nearing retirement.
The differences between the two main front-runners, Bishop Mugecha and MwangiGaitho led to formation of two factions after the death of Kahihia.
The wrangles in many instances degenerated into bloody confrontations in majority of the churches within the Central Region where the church enjoys a large following.
When things seem to get out hand with no amicable solution, Mugecha split away with a sizeable congregation to form AIPCK in 1987, which he was heading until his death.
He has left behind, a widow, Esther Wamuyu, 67, and six children, five sons and a daughter.