Yesterday, the House of Bishops elected Bishop Stanley Ntagali as the eighth Archbishop of the Church of Uganda.
By Kizito Musoke
Yesterday, the House of Bishops elected Bishop Stanley Ntagali as the eighth Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. The new archbishop is expected to be dedicated and hardworking, if he is to overcome challenges faced by his predecessors and the entire Anglican Church.
The archbishop has been elected at a time when the Church House project is underway. This project started in 1970s, but its actual construction was realised during the tenure of Archbishop Luke Orombi. Although work is progressing, some sources at Namirembe revealed that most of the money used to fund the project is borrowed.
Some Christians, especially in Kampala, are worried that if the church fails to get the money, it will be forced to sell off its land, especially in Kampala, to clear the debt. It is going to be the work of the Archbishop to look for more funds to complete the project.
Poor relations with Govt
Apparently, the central government is at loggerheads with some church leaders. The President has come out publicly to condemn the clergy who engage in politics. The new leader is expected to mend fences between the politicians and the clergy.
Land, offertory theft
Many Christians are complaining about the theft of church land, where by some church leaders have sold it off under the pretext of developing it. This is likely to be a great challenge. Apparently, the provincial leadership plans to have all the church land managed by one authority, but some dioceses, especially in Buganda, are against the move.
Another problem faced by the church is the misappropriation of the money collected from Christians, which demoralises the flock. Last Sunday, Orombi, during his sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, complained about untrustworthiness among Christians, some of whom steal offertory.
The church is very poor, with many leaders, especially at lower level, wallowing in poverty. Many churches have no projects to sustain them, hence burdening Christians.
Many Christians, especially in upcountry areas, are no longer attending church services. Lawrence Seruwembe, a church leader in Luwero, expressed fear that the Anglican church has lost many believers to Pentecostal churches. The new archbishop faces the challenge of bringing ‘the lost sheep’ back to the church.
The new leader has the responsibility of promoting reconciliation and harmony among Christians, who are divided. Three years back, Christians of Busimbi Parish in Mityana Diocese threatened to secede after being given a reverend they did not like.
Retired West Buganda Bishop Kefa Kamya was dragged to court, together with Orombi by some group of Christians, who opposed the election of the new bishop.
Many churches are in a sorry state and need immediate renovation. However many Christians cannot raise the money needed to undertake such projects.
“If it has taken Namirembe diocese, which is believed to be the richest diocese in the country, several years to raise funds for the renovation of the church, what about a parish church in Moyo district?” one church leader asked.
According to the retired Bishop of Mityana diocese, Wilson Mutebi, Orombi has done a lot in the development of the church, including kick-starting the construction of Church House, which had stalled for many years.
Mutebi cautioned the new Archbishop to consider the role of women in church leadership, saying although women are active in church activities, their representation in top positions is still minimal. He advised the new leader to appoint women in top leadership positions, including bishops.
According to Mutebi, the low education levels of church leaders is still a challenge and advises the church to start recruiting educated people. He says the future of the church lies in the hands of well-educated Christians because they have a vision.
Mutebi also advised the new archbishop to put much emphasis on combating the spread of HIV /AIDS, especially among the youth. “The rate at which Christians are dying of AIDS is worrying. If nothing is done, we might reach a time when there will be no Christians to lead,” Mutebi said.
Homosexuality is still a great challenge in the church, currently the church of Uganda is not on good terms with the church of Canterbury, the seat of Anglican Church in the world. The relationship failed after Canterbury installed a Bishop who is believed to support homosexuality. Orombi took a firm stand against homosexuality.
Problems facing the church
-Mending ties with government
-Raising money for the Church House
-Church buildings in poor condition
-The sale of church land
-Empowering female church leader
-Mending relations with Canterbury
-Poorly paid clergy
Ntagali faces uphill task