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Joseph Ngwaci
(1893-1962)
Joseph Ngwaci was one of the young men who witnessed the arrival of the first Scottish missionaries at Thogoto, Kikuyu. During the great famine that devastated the Kikuyu people between 1897 and 1900, the missionaries offered food and medical relief in a camp they established at Thogoto. At the end of the famine, young Kikuyu people, mostly men volunteered to start evening classes that quickly multiplied from village to village.

Joseph Ngwaci was one of the young men, accompanied by the missionaries, who would announce their arrival in each village by blowing trumpets and groups of ten (10) to thirty (30) young people would gather around a fire. They would light small lamps and lighted pieces of wood as they read and shared the Good news.

The missionaries would then approach the area chiefs and elders requesting them to allow their young men to attend school at the Thogoto camp. Joseph Ngwaci was among the first class of thirty seven (37) recorded young people who attended school at Thogoto and believed in the Good News. Some of these young people found it important to learn how to read and write and through them, a Night School was established.

In 1920, Joseph Ngwaci was among the group of twenty (20) church elders to be ordained in the first Kirk session of the Thogoto Church. He was commissioned to Rungiri, Kikuyu in 1925 where he planted the Rungiri Church, presently named the P.C.E.A Joseph Ngwaci Memorial Church. The church which was then built of iron sheets was opened by Rev. Musa Gitau in 1928.

Joseph Ngwaci then planted the Rungiri Primary School next to the church. This school was used for evening classes as early as 1902.He was also instrumental in locating land and building the Kanjeru Primary School, Kikuyu, which opened in 1956.

In 1929 Joseph Ngwaci, as an elder of the P.C.E.A. Church, was among the Kikuyu elders who stood with the church in the declaration against Female Circumcision (FGM).This led to a massive defection from the church by the Kikuyu people, mostly men, who believed that the missionaries' goal was to weaken the Kikuyu culture. Joseph's five (5) daughters did not undergo this procedure. He also ensured that his daughters went to school when most Kikuyu men believed that their daughters would refuse to get married if they went to school, hence losing the bride price.

Joseph Ngwaci was a respected elder in the community, earning the nickname "Wachira" meaning a person who settled disputes.

The following reasons are recorded as to why the Rungiri Church was named in the memory of the late Joseph Ngwaci;
(a) He was the first elder to be ordained in 1920 and commissioned to Rungiri by the missionaries in 1925.
(b) He was one of those who brought the Good News to Rungiri and led many people in becoming followers of Jesus Christ by his actions.
(c) He gave of his possessions as follows; he gave his tithe to the church; he donated beds made out of cow hides to the Thogoto Hospital; he replaced the sisal cords that were used to ring the church bell at the Church Of Torch whenever they broke;-he was instrumental in the building of churches and schools.
(d) He died in 1962 having kept his faith.

As of 2002,the P.C.E.A Joseph Ngwaci Memorial Church was proud to be referred to as mother to the following churches and schools; Kinoo Church, Kihumo Church, Kahuho Church, Nderi Church, Muguga Church, Rungiri Primary School, Kanjeru primary School, Ngure Primary School, Kingeero Church, Kikuyu Church, Ngure Church, Gaitumbi Church and the P.C.E.A Rungiri Secondary School.