The seven are reported to have attended the launch of the Reformed Anglican Church in Kumi on April 24, 2022, where they allegedly expressed their dissatisfaction with the Church of Uganda Diocese of Diocese. The May 4th letter indicates that the implicated clergy have since declined to denounce the new faith in writing as per Canon.3:26 of the Provincial Canons.
Kumi Diocese has been under controversy over the last two years following the retirement of Bishop Thomas Edison Irigei. Although the House of Bishops had elected Rev Okunya as his replacement, the appointment was revoked after a group of Christians lodged a petition challenging his age and marital status.
On Tuesday, armed police officers drove to Rev. Okunya’s home with the intention of arresting the cleric for reportedly snubbing the first summons last month. He was asked to report to Kumi CPS, which he did moments later.
The new bishop was consecrated at St. Phillip's Cathedral in Ngora district in the presence of thousands of Christians from Kumi and other dioceses, in a ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, His Grace Dr. Samuel Stephen Kazimba Mugalu.
Rev. Okunya was elected by the House of Bishops as the second bishop of Kumi Diocese in November 2019 but his planned consecration and enthronement scheduled for December was cancelled. He was subsequently banned from taking part in any future contests for the bishop’s seat after he was accused of altering his date of birth.
John Robert Odeke, the Chairperson of the Laity in Mukura Archdeaconry, says that they have resolved to have Rev. Okunya consecrated, a decision he notes may not be affected by the Archbishop’s presence.
Bishop Odurkami, who was responding to issues relating to the ongoing standoff between the Province and Rev. Charles Oode Okunya, said that the embattled priest enjoys the support of several clergies that he noted received training under his leadership during his tenures as the principal of the bible college in Kumi.
Mpungu reveals that preliminary information indicates that some of the attackers were dropped by a taxi while others arrived on Boda bodas. He says they have transferred the suspect’s file from Ngora to the regional police headquarters due to public interest in the matter.
The suspects were picked up for attacking Rev. Martin Ejiet, the Archdeacon of Ngora Archdeaconry, Rev. Sam Opolot and some Christians. The attackers, some of whom are said were armed with machetes invaded the church compound as early as 6:00 am and seized the vestry.
Bishop Obaikol asked Christians to desist from interfering in church matters. He also appealed for calm in the transitional process of the diocese, urging Christians to pray instead of fronting violence.
The Diocese was thrown in turmoil when the House of Bishops revoked the appointment of Rev. Charles Okunya Oode as the Bishop-elect of Kumi, taking over from Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei, who had clocked retirement age.
Some Christians tried to catch up with the early morning service at St. Phillips Cathedral, which however was disrupted by protestors, who stormed the premises with placards. Our reporter saw some Christians leaving the Cathedral as the drama ensued and stood at a distance to watch events as they unfolded.
Moses Acou, one of the Christians at St. Stephen CoU in Kumi town, says the church has allowed outsiders to control them. Acou is bitter that after exciting Christians with the announcement of the new bishop, the House of Bishops decided to betray them because of influence from a few selfish individuals.
In his letter to Kumi Diocesan Chancellor, Emmanuel Ilukor, the Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali notes that Rev. Okunya was disqualified because of his age. In the February 5th, 2020 letter, the Archbishop noted that the House of Bishops reviewed five documents to establish Rev. Okunya’s actual age after receiving petitions from concerned Christians in Kumi.
During the handover of the founder Bishop of Kumi Diocese, Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei in December, the Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali told the congregation that the outcome of the investigations would be ready by February 1st.