Homa Bay Church pulls out of funeral plans for worshipers over suicide and cremation wishes

A church in the city of Homa Bay may walk away from the funeral of one of its members who committed suicide inside the church. He also wrote in his will that he wished to be cremated.

The leadership of the Great Commission Holy Christ church said the church does not support cremation.

The man identified as Joshua Odoyo Nyariera hanged himself using a sisal rope inside the church located at Shauri Yako in the Homa Bay town estate last Saturday.

Her body was discovered by women who had gone to clean the church, minutes before a scheduled prayer service.

On a table next to his body was a suicide note written in dholuo.

In the note, he asked people not to bury his body in a grave. Instead, the body should be cremated.

He also ordered that his body not be taken to the morgue.

“Kik usand jaoda (Don’t frustrate my wife),” he added.

But police ignored the note and took the body to the Homa Bay County Referral Hospital morgue.

The church overseer in charge of administration, Benson Oyieng’, told the Nairobian that they had reservations about the cremation. Oyieng’ said his church’s doctrines do not allow cremation, therefore worshipers will not be among the mourners who will cremate Nyariera’s body if the family decides to do so.

According to Oyieng’, Nyariera’s body will be buried on January 23 at Kosele village in southern Rachuonyo sub-county.

“We do not subscribe to cremation as a church. Our doctrine is very clear on the internment of bodies. We always dig a grave and bury the body,” Oyieng’ said.

He argued that they will not tell Nyariera’s family how he should bury the body, but will step down if the family decides to cremate him,” he added.

“We give the family the ability to manipulate the body as they wish. We will withdraw our presence if they opt for cremation.

But we will support the family in transporting the body from the morgue to where he will be buried because he was one of ours,” Oyieng’ said.

The cleric said that the church is undertaking special prayers to expel the demons that caused the Nyariera to commit suicide in the church.

The prayers that started last Saturday will end this Saturday.

“We perform special prayers using holy water which is sprinkled throughout the church to expel demons,” Oyieng’ said.

He said they had moved the body from Homa Bay County Hospital Mortuary to Simbiri Mortuary for burial.

Nyariera, who operated an Mpesa store as an agent, committed suicide due to what he said was an inability to pay the debts he had accumulated.

The note, written in dholuo, contained a message stating that the deceased feared being arrested and taken to prison if prosecuted for his debts.

“I cannot afford a lawyer who can represent me in court. My parents are unable to support me in repaying debts. Therefore, I am afraid of being taken to a police station as it will land me in jail,” the note read.

Arujo Sub-Location Senior Deputy Chief Jackton Olielo advised residents to seek help when faced with such challenges.

“No problem justifies suicide. Some of these problems can be solved through the right channels,” Olielo said.

Jerry B. Hatch