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Namirembe Bishop Elections: Search Committee Adhered to Due Process :: Uganda Radionetwork

Namirembe Bishop Elections: Search Committee Adhered to Due Process

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Sadiiki emphasized that the committee not only made recommendations for future bishop nominations in the Church of Uganda to address past challenges but also stated that these suggestions would be deliberated by the provincial assembly standing committee and the provincial assembly. He further noted that if the recommendations necessitate amendments to the constitution of the Church of Uganda, they will be appropriately addressed
20 Nov 2023 17:52
House of Bishops in a group photo with Minister Ruth Nankabirwa. (File Photo)
Amid the jubilation surrounding the election of Reverend Canon Moses Banja as the next Bishop of Namirembe, there are voices of skepticism regarding the nomination process that led to his election.

Nevertheless, hours after the bishop-elect's declaration at the Church of Uganda's oldest diocese, Balaam Muheebwa, the acting provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda, clarified the situation. Muheebwa noted that a probe committee had thoroughly investigated the matter and uncovered no irregularities in the nomination process.      

"The committee conveyed to the House of Bishops that the nomination process adhered to due process, affirming that everything was in order," Muheebwa stated without delving into details. Additionally, the acting provincial secretary mentioned that following the report, the bishops convened at St. Stephen's Cathedral in East Busoga, and proceeded to elect a new bishop from the names that had already been presented by the search committee.       

On October 4, during the House of Bishops' session in Namirembe to elect bishops for East Busoga and Namirembe, a petition from elders of Namirembe Diocese was presented.  The petition raised concerns about the nomination process that led to the consideration of Canon Moses Banja, the Archdeacon of Luzira, and Reverend Abraham Muyinda, the vicar at Namirembe. The elders alleged the process was marred by corruption, unfairness, and conflicts of interest.        

As a result of the petition, the election for Namirembe was deferred, and a probe team, chaired by Rt Rev. Johnson Gakumba, bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, was established to investigate the nomination process in accordance with Canon 3.7.30 of the Church of Uganda.         

The committee comprised Rt. Rev. Micheal Lubowa, (central Buganda) Rt. Rev. Michael Okwii Esakahn (Kumi) Rt. Rev Patrick Wakula (Central Busog), and the Provincial Chancellor Naboth Muhairwe, who served as the legal advisor to the committee.          What Happened?          

When the current Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwarira confirmed his impending retirement as he neared his 65th birthday, which marks the retirement age for bishops in the Church of Uganda, a nomination committee was formed and was entrusted with the task of identifying suitable candidates for the position.            

Chaired by Fred Mpanga, the chancellor of Namirembe Diocese, the committee reportedly received a total of 13 candidates. The list of nominees included Rev. Canon Moses Kayimba, Ven. Rev. Canon Moses Banja, Rev. Edward Stephen Kabanda, Ven. Canon John Gitta Kavuma, and Ven. BK Buwembo. Additional candidates comprised Rev. Semei Ssebina Sekiziyivu, Rev. Emmanuel Lutaaya, Rev. Dr. Thomas Timothy Nsubuga, Rev. Esau Bbosa Kimanje, and Rev. Dr. Enock Kimanje.              

After compiling the list of candidates, the committee's responsibility was to nominate two eligible priests, from whom the House of Bishops would ultimately select the sixth Bishop of the oldest diocese in Uganda.        

However, when the committee convened at King's College Budo to finalize the decision on which two names to submit to the House of Bishops, disagreements emerged during the meeting attended by 13 out of the 15 members. Reports indicated that ten of those present expressed objections to the process, contending that certain candidates on the list had not undergone the requisite vetting and election procedures.           

The committee meeting on that day concluded amidst heated arguments, and a scheduled follow-up session on Monday did not take place. Nevertheless, it was reported that two names were eventually forwarded to the House of Bishops.          

However, our reporter has gathered insider information suggesting that the petitioners were advocating for another individual, whose name is currently undisclosed. However, some committee members learned that the suggested candidate had questionable aspects that, if nominated, could have caused further confusion.        

"To be exact, there were rumors of infidelity," noted a source with knowledge of the matter.        

Our reporter spoke to a member of the group that had petitioned, and the individual mentioned that they had seen the news of the election but were awaiting the report of the probe committee for a more comprehensive understanding. However, the person did not provide any further details.         

Adams Sadiiki, Church of Uganda provincial spokesperson, pointed out that when the petition recommending the continuation of the election was presented, "the petition questioned the nomination process, and it was evident. However, they proceeded with the names that had been nominated."       

Sadiiki highlighted that the committee also put forth recommendations for future bishop nominations within the Church of Uganda, aiming to prevent the challenges witnessed in the past.          

"These recommendations will undergo discussion by the Provincial Assembly Standing Committee and the Provincial Assembly," he added. Adams mentioned that if the recommendations call for amending the constitution of the Church of Uganda, it will be duly addressed.          

Over the years, concerns have been raised about the process of nominating candidates elected by the House of Bishops. In the current practice, candidates submit their applications for the position to the search committee, among other processes that many find unfitting.     


Not New          

It has become a trend for various individuals to oppose the nomination process. On several occasions, they have lodged petitions with the Archbishop, and in extreme instances, they have taken the matter to civil courts of law.            

Such situations have arisen in the dioceses of Kumi, Muhabura, and most recently in Luweero, where conflicts remain unresolved. Notably, in some instances, disgruntled Christians have resorted to legal action in civil courts, a practice that church authorities have criticized.              

In Kumi, the Rev. Charles Oode Okunya recently resigned as an Anglican priest in the Church of Uganda after his aspiration to become the bishop of the diocese faced obstacles. Following his resignation, he has gone on to establish a breakaway faction known as the Reformed Anglican Church.            

Back for Nominations After Five Years      


The newly elected bishop is 59 years old, implying that Namirembe Diocese will need to search for another bishop in five years. However, Muheebwa reassures that this should not be a cause for concern, citing instances where bishops have served for only four years before reaching retirement.        

“Age is not the primary concern; rather, having the necessary qualifications to lead the diocese is crucial. There is a precedent of a bishop who served for four years, and the current bishop's term will surpass that duration. there is no need for concern among the faithful,” he added.          Who Qualifies to be a Bishop in COU     


In accordance with Section 3.7.22 of the Provincial Canons of the Church of Uganda, eligibility for nomination to the position of bishop entails specific criteria. Prospective candidates are required to be ordained priests with a minimum of ten years of practical experience in pastoral ministry, as well as being at least 45 years old.         

The section further stipulates that an individual seeking nomination must hold a bachelor's degree in Theology or Divinity and, alternatively, possess a first degree in another field supplemented by a postgraduate diploma in Theology or Divinity.                     

The canons elaborate that the nomination committee's assessment of candidates will consider various factors, including their age, academic qualifications, pastoral ministry experience, spiritual dedication and testimony, family life, personal integrity, and societal standing.