Rev. Phyllis Byrd
Misson co-worker in Kenya
Serving at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa
About Phyllis Byrd's ministry
Phyllis Byrd came under appointment as a mission co-worker with the PC(USA) in 1990. She is currently serving under a joint appointment with the Common Global Ministries Board, a joint witness of the Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ. The UCC/Disciples is the “lead partner.” Since 1997 Phyllis has been working with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), assigned to the parish ministry at St. Andrews, a 4,000-member congregation in Nairobi.
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As associate minister at St. Andrews, Phyllis is responsible for various mission ministries and for outreach and pastoral care to single parents. In addition to her ministry at St. Andrews, Phyllis is chaplain at Nairobi hospital, a private, Presbyterian-related hospital of 350 beds. She also teaches pastoral care and counseling, worship and homiletics at the PCEA college. And since 2001 Phyllis has been the coordinator of the PC(USA)’s Young Adult Volunteer program in Kenya.
Kenya, a country with a population of 38 million, spans an area about 85 percent of the size of Texas. It is a country of great ethnic diversity, which is often a source of the country’s political tensions. Most Kenyans speak both English and Swahili and many also speak the language of their ethnic tribe. About 22 percent of the population live in cities. Nairobi, the capital city and the country’s largest urban center, is home to about 3 million people. The people are mostly Christian with 45 percent identifying themselves as Protestant and 33 percent as Catholic. About 10 percent are Muslim, another 10 percent adhere to traditional religions, and 2 percent practice other religions. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s church partner in Kenya, traces its origins to missionaries from the Church of Scotland who arrived in 1891. The work of those early mission workers has borne much fruit. The PCEA now has more than 4 million members and it continues to grow rapidly. The PC(USA) began working in Kenya during the 20th century and continues to send mission personnel at the request of the PCEA.
About Phylis Byrd
Prior to her assignment with the PCEA, Phyllis worked with the All Africa Council of Churches. As the associate general secretary of the AACC, she provided administrative support to the organization’s general secretary, developed resources, served as a liaison between the organization and churches at ecumenical gatherings, and analyzed the problems of churches in Africa.
Born in New York City, Phyllis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in child psychology and Jewish studies from Syracuse University. She spent two summers working for the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Regional and Local Ecumenism before earning her M.Div. degree in New Testament and church history from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to studying at Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, she was coordinator at the Theological Students Conference at the World Council of Churches’ office in New York City. She later became a consultant for the National Council of Churches’ Africa Office in New York City and a conference coordinator for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Before her appointment to Kenya she worked in the World Relations Department of the Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America in New York City.
Phyllis was ordained to the ministry in January 1987 by the New York Association of the United Church of Christ.
She is married to Polycarp Omolo Ochilo and is the mother of a daughter, Atieno Machel Ochilo.
Phyllis - March 30
Atieno Machel - January 20