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.
Retired Clergy have pointed out money,
power and politics as some of the issues igniting squabbles in Kumi Diocese.
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.
Rev. Okunya had been elected
Bishop in November 2019. But his consecration which was due to take place on
December 29, 2019, was cancelled on the basis of a petition by a group calling
itself the Concerned Christians of Kumi Diocese, who alleged that the
Bishop-elect had an extra-marital affair and had sired children outside
On February 5, the Church
leadership announced that his election had been revoked on grounds that the
Bishop-elect had not attained the 65-year age bar.
In his letter to Kumi Diocesan
Chancellor, Emmanuel Ilukor, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda His Grace
Stanley Ntagali stated that the House of Bishops had reviewed Rev. Okunya’s
National Identity Card, NIRA records, Passport, academic records from Uganda
Christian University and those submitted by the Diocese during the vetting
processes and established that he did not qualify for the job.
The records indicate that Rev.
Okunya was born on November 23, 1975, indicating that he was a year younger to
attain the age of becoming a bishop in line with Article 13 of the Provincial
Constitution and Church of Uganda Provincial Canons. The communication from the Archbishop also
barred Rev. Okunya from taking part in any future elections in Kumi Diocese.
But this communication was received
with mixed reactions and split the Church into camps. Our reporter says that
attendance of church service has gradually decreased over the last two months. On
Sunday, police heavily deployed at major churches, including St. Phillips
Cathedral to quell protests by the Christians.
Now, Retired Clergy in Kumi and
Soroti Dioceses have indicated that an exchange of money and external forces
from civil and political angles. Rev.
Can. Job Osuret, who served the Church for 51 years questions why the House of
Bishops failed to do due diligence in the matter, long before the appointment
He observed that the woes in Kumi
Diocese evolve from the fact that many church leaders pay more attention to
affluent people at the expense of the established laws and church doctrines.
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Another retired clergy, Rev. Can.
Phillip Okiru of Soroti Diocese says that the developments in Kumi depict a bad
sign for the Church as a body of Christ in Teso Sub Region. He wondered why the Church allowed external
forces to penetrate into its affairs especially, in the episcopal elections.
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Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei, the
first Bishop of Kumi Diocese says that all the required procedures were
followed in the nomination and election of Rev. Okunya, adding that the process
was affected by the intrusion of external forces in church matters.
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Although a majority of the
aggrieved Christians in Kumi Diocese are pointing fingers towards Kumi
Orthopedic, Dr John Ekure, others blame some senior members of the clergy in
the Diocese for fueling the crisis. But all the accused persons have denied knowledge
and engagement in the church matters. The diocesan secretary, Rev. Capt. Moses Okello
has declined to comment on the matter.
The situation in the diocese has
remained tense as Christians vow to continue in the fight for what they
describe as Justice for Rev. Okunya. On
Sunday, more than 30 people protesting the revocation of Rev. Okunya’s election
were arrested but released without any charges at Ngora CPS after few hours.