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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
“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
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.