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Archbishop-elect Kaziimba's first challenge is to say no to State gifts

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Archbishop-elect  Kaziimbas first challenge is to say no to State gifts

The inspiring story of Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba, the Archbishop-Elect of the Church of Uganda, is the kind that triggers happy feelings and prayerful optimism that the church has chosen very well. 


Since its founding 142 years ago, the Anglican Church in Uganda has been threatened by major challenges from within and without, some of which have brought death to its leaders while others have almost caused splits. 


Battles for control of the Church’s communities, and factional fights led by clergymen in nasty partisan conflicts have repeatedly rattled the Anglican Church in Uganda and driven nails into its body. 


While, by God’s Grace, the church has survived, the darkening clouds of secular political intolerance and repression in Uganda, and a deep moral decay that has the society in its grip mean that Dr. Kaziimba inherits a Church that is challenged, more than ever before, to allow the Light of the World to shine through its words and deeds.  


To do this, the Church must place Christ well above its formalism and ritualism that have paralysed the real purpose for which the early apostles of Christ were willing to be martyred. 


Jesus Christ defined his job on Earth when he proclaimed the words of the Prophet Isaiah to be his brief. In Luke 4:18 we read: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Jesus did not come to serve the secular rulers or to make them comfortable in their greed and exploitation of the peasants or in their administration of injustice to their subjects. 


Jesus came to make the rulers and other powerful people uncomfortable with his message and deeds, always siding with the little person, not the so-called VIPs. He knew the price He would pay, and willingly did, so that would be saved.


Dr. Kaziimba will inherit a Church that continues to be a target of hijack by the secular rulers of the land. For example, my wife and I were told by a high-ranking person in one of the dioceses in Ankole that he, together with his colleagues who were charged with the nominations for their bishop a few years ago, went to Rwakitura to seek Yoweri Museveni’s approval of the nominees. 

The president vetted the nominees and, not surprisingly, his choice got the nod from the House of Bishops. Whereas the chosen person was qualified for the job, being acceptable to the secular ruler was a critical consideration. 

One cannot imagine Jesus or the early Church leaders seeking the approval of the secular rulers before appointing disciples and other workers that were needed to fulfil the Great Commission.


There are two reasons why Uganda’s rulers of the last 50 years have had a major say in the choice of bishops and archbishops of the Church of Uganda. First, the Anglican Church, which became a state religion during the reign of King Henry VIII, retains a tradition where the British monarch is its head. British bishops and archbishops are ultimately chosen by the prime minister. 


Second, Uganda’s rulers discovered the power of money in controlling influential individuals and organizations. Whereas President Museveni is not the first Ugandan ruler to use the carrot-and-stick to keep the Anglican Church in line, he has outdone his predecessors in showering cash and cars on the clergy, expecting them to return the favour at election time. With few exceptions, Museveni’s investment has yielded good returns.


However, this love affair with the rulers has undermined the Mission of the Church of Uganda, namely, “to proclaim the Gospel in accordance with Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations.” It certainly goes against Christ’s mission to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free.”  Uganda is a land where human rights are held captive by the rulers. The Church’s active participation in the project, whether by commission or omission, enables the wolves to devour God’s children and undermines the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


I pray that Archbishop Kaziimba will say “no” to State gifts of cars, houses and cash for all clergy, including the archbishop and bishops. It is the responsibility of the believers to support the clergy, as it was in the beginning and in relatively recent times. 


Acts 4:32-35 tells us that the believers were one in heart and mind. They shared what they had and “from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” 


What a change that would be from the current situation where some of Uganda’s Anglican bishops are among the financially wealthiest people in their dioceses, with many residing in new palatial spreads while their flock struggle to keep their heads above the water. 


I pray that when, by the grace of God, Archbishop Kaziimba vacates the archbishop’s seat in 2027, we shall measure his success by the number of people the Church has brought to Christ, and the marriages saved or strengthened, not just by the number of buildings and other money generating ventures he has added to the Church’s inventory. 


I pray for a Church of Uganda that will have only one class in its congregations – equal children of God, with no distinction between presidents and prostitutes, politicians and paupers, the prosperous and the poor. 


I look forward to a Church where the secular rulers have no role in its organizational affairs, and where the microphone is used for one purpose only – to preach the Gospel of Christ, and not for politicians to harangue fellow sinners while seeking votes under the veneer of greeting the brethren.


May the new Archbishop, in the words of the Apostle Peter, be a successful shepherd of God’s flock under his care, watching over them in these difficult times and ensuring that all ordained men and women become good examples to the flock. 


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