By Renson Mnyamwezi
A row is simmering between the Anglican Church of Kenya, Taita-Taveta Diocese and its faithful over the pending hiring of an assistant Bishop.
The diocese is to spend more than Sh6 million to cater for the establishment of the office of Assistant Bishop in the region, an amount that should be raised by the faithful.
At the same time, the worshippers have rejected a proposed budget for 2013 amounting to more than Sh44.8 million to be raised by eight archdeaconries in the region for the operations of the diocese headquarters.
Documents obtained by The Standard said each parish had been asked to make a payment of at least 50 per cent of the contribution by May 13, this year to enable preparation of the office to take off.
Last Friday, Rev Dr Bishop Mwaluda chaired a stormy Synod meeting at ACK-sponsored Bartholomew Secondary School in Voi town, where the budget for the assistant Bishop was released to the clergy in attendance.
Pastoral quarters charged to churches within parishes were said to have been raised, an issue that did not go down well with the faithful. The charges depend on the number of faithful, the document said. Owing to the rising poverty, the new demands would not be met and the church needs to rescind its decision, said the faithful.
“Priests in churches that are not able to contribute to the maximum charges have been forced to go without salaries. The appointment of the assistant bishop will further burden the faithful and should be stopped. We have decided to go to the press to air our grievances because the Bishop has failed to listen to us,” complained a faithful.
“We are contributing more than Sh45,000 monthly to the diocese account but our priest, a diploma holder earns a paltry Sh12,000 per month.”
The meeting called on the Diocese headed by the bishop to harmonise salaries of priests with other employees in the public service.
“We have decided to go to the Press to air our grievances because the bishop has failed to listen to us. Our priests are underpaid and yet we contribute a lot of money to the diocese,” said another faithful who did not want to be named. 
Updated 8 hrs 39 mins ago
They called for a review of the church constitution saying too many powers were vested in the bishop.