Kenyan Native to be next president of Eastern Mennonite Missions.
A Maryland pastor who was born and raised in Kenya will be the next president of Eastern Mennonite Missions.
The EMM board of directors on July 25 announced the appointment of Nelson Okanya to lead the Lancaster Mennonite Conference mission agency, beginning Oct. 1.
Okanya succeeds Richard Showalter, who is retiring after 17 years as EMM president.
Okanya brings experience in theological education, pastoral leadership and cross-cultural missions.
His “strong love for Jesus, his humility, passion for missions and his cross-cultural experiences, particularly as one who came to faith indirectly through the ministry of EMM, uniquely qualify him” for the presidency, said Joe Sherer, chair of the EMM board of directors.
Okanya looks forward to participating in re-envisioning mission for the next generation.
“The Anabaptist witness and mission, which comes from a marginalized position rather than from the center, continues to be a model for world mission,” he said.
Keith Weaver, moderator of Lancaster Mennonite Conference, said Okanya’s “passion for God’s mission through the church and his understanding of the church stateside and globally make him an excellent fit for the role of leading EMM into the future.”
Okanya’s childhood included moving back and forth between the rural village of Migori and the city of Nairobi. From a young age, he interacted with the Kenya Mennonite Church and the EMM mission community in Nairobi. He is fluent in English, Kiswahili and Luo.
Okanya attended Daystar University in Nairobi, where he graduated with a diploma in Christian ministries and won the University Evangelism Award in 1997. He holds a master of divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va., and is taking doctoral classes at Catholic University of America in Washington.