History

Scripture Union is an international movement began as a children’s mission in Britain in 1867. Its original name was the Children’s Special Service Mission. The Scripture Union as such began in 1879 as a system of daily Bible reading to “follow up” those who had become Christians through the children’s missions. The two names were used interchangeably until 1960 when Scripture Union became the official name of the movement.

 

The Bible reading aspect of the movement quickly spread to other countries. Within 10 years from 1879, world-wide circulation of SU Bible reading cards reached 470,000 in 28 languages. This was largely through missionaries from Britain who saw the value of the SU method of Bible reading in the new churches that God was bringing into being through their work.

 

The Scripture Union was first introduced in Kenya in the early 1930s. This happened when a young school master, Fred Crittenden, on furlough in London, was sent back to Kenya by Children Special Service Mission (C.S.S.M) as a missionary for East Africa. Fred was appointed children’s missioner in 1936. He travelled widely in Kenya and Uganda, speaking to African and European children alike.

 

The organization, Scripture Union of Kenya began with the appointment and posting of Harry Cotter by SU England as staff worker to Kenya in 1960. Initially, the Scripture Union Committee looked after his personal needs and expenses, as well as distributing the S.U. Bible-reading and Sunday school materials. He combined his SU work with the responsibilities of working as traveling secretary for Kenya Students Christian Fellowship. In the 1960’s, the leadership composition was a majority expatriate. Then, the main SU ministry was Bible reading promotion. Scripture Union was registered to operate in Kenya officially in 1967. African nationals assumed the leadership of SU in the 1970s.

 

Kenya churches handbook records that in 1971, there were about 8,000 users of SU Daily Bible reading notes (English and Swahili), 6,000 users of SU Bible reading cards (in 5 Kenyan languages) and 2,000 children taught with SU Sunday school materials. In the 1980s, SU Kenya launched Bible reading ministry for children (God and Me) and registered the first SU bookshop in 1982. There was diversification of the ministry to include children’s ministry in 1985 which in turn led to the establishment of ministry to teachers. The geographical spread started moving out of Nairobi in this period. The Kikamba Bible reading guide was also launched in this period.

 

In the 1990s, SU started the AID for AIDS ministry. The first 3 regional offices were started in Mombasa, Eldoret and Kitui. Scripture Union of Kenya attained autonomy as a national movement in the year 1998 and the National Council was constituted. In the same year, the ministry opened a second bookshop in Eldoret. Furthermore, SU Kenya began construction of its present office in Hurlingham in collaboration with SU Africa.

 

There was the eventual relocation of the AID for AIDS ministry office from Nairobi to Eldoret. In the 1990s, SU Kenya launched the Luo Bible reading notes.

 

In 2000, SU Kenya completed and relocated to the new office in Hurlingham and opened the third bookshop there. Presently, SU Kenya is divided in 7 administrative regions, namely: Greater Nairobi, Coast, Eastern, Central, North Rift, South Rift and the Lake Region. S.U. work in these Regions is overseen by Regional Coordinators with the support and guidance of Regional committees. The Regions are further subdivided into Counties overseen by County committees and Country Co-ordinators.

 

The number of bookshops increased to 7 – with two bookshops in Nairobi and one each in Nakuru, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri and Eldoret. The Bookshop work is overseen by a Board of Directors, the Deputy Director Finance and Support Services, the Marketing manager and the Branch managers overseeing the individual branches.

 

Scripture Union is currently serving the church and society in Kenya in the following areas:

(a)                Producing, promoting and distributing Bible reading notes in English and in local dialects.

(b)               Facilitating children’s ministry in primary schools and churches through Chaplaincy, Bible Clubs, camps and vocational Bible schools

(c)                Building the capacity of Christian teachers in primary schools and Christians of goodwill to facilitate spiritual nurture programmes

(d)               Addressing social issues like HIV/AIDS through life skills programmes.

(e)               Holding Conference of Sunday School Teachers (COSST) events which include capacity development of Sunday School teachers and children festivals

(f)                 Promoting wholesome family relationships through the family ministry and

(g)                Supplying of relevant Christian literature through the bookshops.

 

Scripture Union of Kenya raises its support from individual members, churches and other institutions through member subscriptions, donations and grants. SUK is a volunteer ministry and works with and through voluntary workers all over the country in the different areas of ministry.