The Church of Uganda is a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled Anglican Church engaged in the mission of Jesus Christ in today’s world.
The Charge of
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi
to the 19th Provincial Assembly
of the Church of the Province of Uganda
Held at Uganda Christian University, Mukono
26th August – 29th August 2008
Assembly Theme: The 19th Provincial Assembly is continuing the same theme from the 18th Provincial Assembly – “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).
I greet you in the name of Christ and thank you for coming to this Assembly 2006.
In a special way, I welcome the bishops who were consecrated between the last Assembly and this Assembly. They are:
- Bishop Daniel Gimadu – North Mbale Diocese, 10th December 2006
- Bishop David Sebuhinja – Provincial Secretariat, 10th December 2006
- Bishop Joseph Abura – Karamoja Diocese, 27th May 2007
- Bishop James Nasak- North Karamoja Diocese, 1st July 2007
- Bishop Cranmer Mugisha – Muhabura Diocese, 26th August 2007
- Bishop George Tibeesigwa – Ankole Diocese, 2nd September 2007
- Bishop John Guernsey – Bishop for COU Congregations in America, 2nd September 2007
- Bishop Patrick Gidudu – Mbale Diocese, 17th August 2008
Allow me to extend a vote of thanks to the Prime Minister of Uganda – The Rt. Hon, Professor Apollo Nsibambi for being our Guest Speaker in this Assembly.
I welcome all our invited and special Guests who are here to join us in this Assembly.
We deeply sympathise with friends who have lost their beloved ones. We convey our deep condolences to the families and relatives of the following who departed!
Bishop William Rukirande for the loss of his wife Harriet
There are indeed many things we would like to thank God for:
(i) As a Province, all the Dioceses with substantive Bishops – no caretaker bishops anymore.
(ii) A magnificent Provincial Secretariat office with the 2nd phase almost to completion.
(iii) CHOGM – with a lot of political anxiety but ended well.
(iv) HUMAN RESOURCE MANUAL:
At our last Provincial Assembly we were asked to give the Human Resource Manual due attention and I thank you for your response. Dioceses that had not yet responded to the manual did their part and all the stakeholders have put in their input. The Provincial Assembly Standing Committee has approved it. This is a great accomplishment in the life of our Church and I believe it will go a long way to improving the morale of all the people serving God in the Church of Uganda. May I request this Assembly to receive it and confirm it?
4. Theme. As I said at the beginning, our theme for this Provincial Assembly is Matthew 6.33 – “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Communion declared the 1990’s to be the Decade of Evangelism. Every Province in the Communion was encouraged to develop intentional strategies for increasing evangelism and growing the Body of Christ. While America and Canada debated homosexuality and watched their churches decline, we in Africa took the challenge of evangelism seriously. The Church in Nigeria grew dramatically, chiefly through planting churches and creating new missionary dioceses in northern Nigeria. Our preacher at this year’s Martyrs’ Day celebration was the Nigerian Archbishop of Kaduna Province in Northern Nigeria. His diocese was one of the missionary dioceses the Church of Nigeria created. His presence and his sermon were powerful, and I am grateful for how God is linking together the Church of Uganda with other Anglican Churches in Africa.
In the Church of Uganda we have always had a strong emphasis on evangelism. Yet, somehow our percentage of the population has remained about the same. Yes, we continue to grow numerically each year, but our percentage of the population is stagnant.
During this Provincial Assembly, I want us to give serious consideration to declaring the next ten years to be a Decade of Mission – a Decade of Mission within Uganda and beyond Uganda.
I have now been in office for four and a half years of my ten-year term; in January I will be at my half-way point. My focus during these first years has been to visit every Diocese and offer myself to each Bishop and Diocese to use me in a way that would best serve the Diocese. It has been a blessing to me to see with my own eyes the breadth of our Church. For me, I have approached each visit as a Mission. Now, I want to encourage all of our leaders and churches to make a determined commitment to seize the next ten years as a Decade of Mission.
I have been to every diocese except Muhabura, Busoga, Karamoja, North Karamoja, and North Mbale, which I hope to visit next year. By the end of this year I will have also visited Namirembe and Northern Uganda.
During the second half of my term as Archbishop, I want to devote myself to the work of the Church based in the city of Kampala. There are important things only the Archbishop can do with our leaders in the city that will have a direct impact on the mission of our church throughout the country. I will, of course, accept special invitations from dioceses to do mission, as well as overseas invitations for mission.
As we consider what it would mean for us to declare the next ten years as a Decade of Mission, I want us to acknowledge that God has blessed us with a rich spiritual heritage of our martyrs and the revival. He has blessed us with abundant natural resources. If you have ever traveled to other parts of the world and then returned home to Uganda, you will know what I’m talking about. There’s no reason Uganda cannot be a bright light on this continent between what God has given to us naturally and what God has given to us supernaturally.
Just as with Abraham, God is calling us to be a blessing to the nations. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing. If we only receive the blessing, but do not give it away, we shall become like the Dead Sea, where life comes in, only to die there. If there is no outlet…if there is no drive to be a blessing to others, then as a church I fear we shall start to wither up and die.
So, I want to call us to embrace a Decade of Mission. This is not our mission, but it is God’s mission. A Decade where we are self-consciously aware and strategically committed to participating in God’s mission in the world. God is already at work, accomplishing His purposes. It is our job to find out what God is doing and to join Him in it.
So, I want us to consider the next ten years to be a Decade of Mission. This would be a Decade of Mission on five levels:
- A Decade of Mission in our personal lives
- A Decade of Mission in our churches
- A Decade of Mission in our institutions
- A Decade of Mission in our country
- A Decade of Mission in our Anglican Communion
5. The Decade of Mission in our personal lives.
First, we need a Decade of Mission in our personal lives. This is a big subject, so I will highlight only two areas.
First, our work ethic. Your work is sacred. It should be done to the glory of God. We work as unto the Lord. We have a problem in our country where 85% of us are considered to be Christian, and yet we have one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. I have come to the conclusion that the word ‘corruption’ is too polite a word. Brothers and sisters, we need to call corruption what it is – it is theft. It is stealing. It is seeking first my own kingdom, and not seeking first the Kingdom of God. We need a massive commitment on the part of all Christians to agree together to seek first, not our own kingdom, but God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. If we are faithful in this, then God will be faithful to add unto us everything we need.
I am aware that the Government has set up many commissions of inquiry to probe corrupt transactions. We also know that the findings and recommendations of these commissions of enquiry have not yet received due attention. Ugandans expect the government to implement fully the reports of these commissions of inquiry that were conducted at great expense to the taxpayers. In that regard, I appeal to our national leaders to step up the fight against corruption. Ugandans expect that steps will be taken, as soon as possible, to bring the perpetrators of grand corruption to justice through prosecution and recovery of embezzled public funds and assets.
I also wonder how we can be a country that is 85% Christian and have so many of our children molested and defiled by their own relatives or other community members. Or, in our schools where older children initiate the new S1 students by sodomizing them. We all know youth who come home from school at the end of the term and announce to their parents that they are refusing to return. Why? You know why, and I know why. I am becoming concerned that this is becoming epidemic in our country and it is our children who are suffering. As parents, as aunties and uncles, as elders – we must stand up for them and do everything we can to protect them. Paul described a group in Philippi by saying of them, “Their god is their belly.” (Phil 3.19) They were seeking the “kingdom of their belly.” What has happened in our country that we have this situation where people are seeking the “kingdom of their sexual gratification”?
Brothers and sisters, we need a Decade of Mission in our own personal lives where in practical ways we seek first not our own kingdom, but the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We seek God’s Kingdom in the way we use our money, in the way we guard sexual intimacy for marriage between one man and one woman, in the way we use our power to serve others, and not to be served.
6. A Decade of Mission in our churches.
Secondly, we need a Decade of Mission in our churches. It is far too easy to become focused on maintenance in our churches. We go through the motions of weekly services, Parish Council meetings, Mother’s Union meetings, confirmation classes, etc. We are busy. But, I want to ask – Are our people growing deeper in their love for God and their neighbour? Are people understanding more and more of the Bible and living in obedience to God’s Word? Are people sharing what they have with one another? Is the church ministering to the children and youth in the community? We have high levels of unemployment in Uganda. Yes, this is a problem. But, it also means we have many youth who are available to be released as an army of intercessors and a force of mission teams.
This would be a Decade of Mission where every area of our church life is about seeking God’s Kingdom and advancing God’s Kingdom. It means that in our church life we would give up unnecessary bureaucracy and make sure that our meetings, programmes, and plans are actually making a difference in the lives of our people at the grassroots. It is not enough to have a meeting with an agenda and read the minutes from the previous meeting and then go home. And, then return to the next meeting and read the minutes from the previous meeting. That is maintenance. May God deliver us from maintenance and propel us into mission.
I’m talking about a Decade of Mission where our ministries are not about building our own personal empires, but about seeing the Kingdom of God become real today, on earth as it is in heaven. A Decade of Mission where we are not in ministry for our own personal benefit and gain, but to see God glorified, and to watch Him provide for us all that we need.
We need a Decade of Mission where not only do we have strong Dioceses, but we also have strong congregations…all the way down to the grassroots level of our church. The key to this, brothers and sisters, is deliberate attention to the youth. We need to mentor them and coach them in life skills, discipleship, leadership, and ministry. It’s only when we give them a high degree of involvement, belonging and ownership that the church can be alive today and for the next generation. May I encourage the House of Laity to request the youth members to take some time among themselves and to deliberate and propose resolutions to this Assembly. I think this will be the best way to hear their voice.
Our people are shifting more and more to our urban centres. In this Decade of Mission, every urban centre needs to develop strategies for the planting of more churches. By our next Provincial Assembly, I want to hear stories about new church plants in each of our growing urban centres.
Kampala is expanding in every direction, and I urge Kampala and Namirembe Dioceses to work together to develop plans for the planting of at least three new churches every year during this Decade of Mission. Our existing churches are not sufficient to meet the demands of the growing population. New people require us to plant new churches and to engage in new strategies of collaboration.
This kind of vision of a Decade of Mission in our churches will require renewed attention to theological education and leadership development among our clergy and key lay leaders in our congregations. I commend to you the programme for continuing education for clergy in-service training that Bishop David Sebuhinja is leading from the Secretariat, along with the Education Department’s BUILD training.
We are also facing a clergy crisis in the next ten years, when 60% of our clergy in the Province will retire. This has led to the crash courses we discussed at the last Provincial Assembly and agreed we would not continue. So, may I commend to you the separate Report in the file from the Commission for Theological Training and Ministerial Formation which highlights the UCU scheme to offer placements at Bishop Tucker for three students every year from each diocese… provided the diocese values the training enough to cater for the student’s upkeep! The Report also encourages reviving the Provincial Ordination Certificate programme.
I am calling for a Decade of Mission in our personal lives. A Decade of Mission in our Churches. And, …
7. A Decade of Mission in our institutions.
When Jesus began his public ministry, it says he went about “preaching, teaching, and healing.” That’s why the Church of Uganda has not only churches where we focus on the preaching of God’s Word, but also schools and hospitals. Jesus’ mission focused on “preaching, teaching, and healing” and in this Decade of Mission I envision renewed emphasis not only on making our congregations stronger, but also on linking our schools and health clinics with the mission of God.
8. The Local Church as a Mission Centre
Most Ugandans experience the Church of Uganda in their local congregation, so as we consider the next ten years as a Decade of Mission, I call upon every parish priest and lay reader to increase opportunities for Bible Study, to continually improve our preaching, to make our worship both faithful to our Anglican tradition as well as relevant to our youth and African context, and to plan regular mission outreaches in the villages. The Provincial Secretariat has many programmes available to assist the local church in these things – the Alpha Course, Purpose Driven Living, BUILD, youth ministry training, worship training, etc. Please take advantage of them!
By the time the next Provincial Assembly meets I would love to hear that Uganda not only receives missionaries, but sends missionaries. We do already send some short-term missionaries, but what about responding to the plea of our northern neighbour in Sudan for evangelists and teachers? I know there are people in our church who would respond, “Here am I, Lord; send me.” Where are they? They are in our local congregations. But, do we have the vision for this? And, where are the resources in our church to support them? Where are the people and the individuals with the vision to be a blessing to support them? By our next Provincial Assembly I would love to hear that we have raised up, trained, and supported Ugandans as missionaries!
9. Education as Mission
When we turned over our schools to the government, we lost a strategic tool for mission – Education as Mission. May I urge us, in the strongest possible terms, to understand that Education can be Mission, and it can be a very strategic way to engage this Decade of Mission. I call upon the members and leaders in our church to embrace our schools, and to develop strategic plans for their redevelopment, for the starting of new schools, and for placing Chaplains in every school.
My friends, something has gone dramatically wrong when our children experience school as a place where they might be killed in a fire, or where strikes and riots are seen to be the best way to resolve disputes, or where they are victimized by immoral behaviour. Our schools and their leaders need to seek God’s kingdom first, knowing that “all good things will be added unto them.”
I commend to you the separate report in the file of the Commission on Higher Education, and I especially renew my appeal to our diocesan leaders to consolidate our tertiary colleges, rather than spreading them out without adequate planning as is our practice today.
10. Health Care as Mission
I urge us to also see our Health Clinics as active centres for mission – “Health Care as Mission.” Our Health Centres should be a qualitatively different experience than those not run by the Church. It was the church that first brought modern medical care to our people in Uganda, and it should be the Church that continues to raise the standard of treatment and care in our country. Are patients treated with respect and dignity when they come? Do our health care workers understand that some patients must be treated urgently in order to avoid serious problems? Our Lord Jesus Christ came to bring life and to bring it abundantly. I have seen some health care workers who don’t seem to value life. May it never be said of Church of Uganda health centres that people died unnecessarily because they were not tended to.
11. Planning and Development as Mission
In the Book of Revelation, we get a picture of what the fullness of God’s Kingdom looks like. Rev 7.16 says, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.” This is part of God’s mission in the world, and when we seek first God’s Kingdom, we are participating in what God is doing in the world. That’s why we have a department in our church focused on development and planning. God cares whether or not His people have enough food or access to clean drinking water or a roof over their heads. And, if this is something that God cares about, so do we! Even now, we have people in Uganda facing hunger because of drought. Yet, we have some of the richest soil for agriculture and many fresh water lakes. The early Christians in the Book of Acts made sure that there were no needy people among them. What about us?
All that is needed, my friends, is for us to seek God’s Kingdom first, and these things will be added unto us. But, we have to actively “seek.” This means we can’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it for us. We must do the “seeking” ourselves. No one else can “seek” for us. We must come together, thank God for the abundant resources He has given us, and give ourselves to adequate planning, and God will bless it. Who are you waiting for? I urge us to empower and mobilize our communities to plan and creatively address the development challenges before us.
12. Business as Mission.
There is an innovative approach to mission today that is being well received in many parts of the world and I want us to understand it and embrace it. It is known as “Business as Mission.”
I want to ask our Christians who are businessmen and businesswomen to offer their business skills to God’s mission. God can use Business to advance His Kingdom’s purposes. There are many Ugandans who have gone to Sudan to do business. What if they went to Sudan as missionaries disguised as businessmen? They would be there not only to do business, but to trade in the Gospel. We wouldn’t have to wait to raise funds to send them as missionaries, because they could support themselves! We need to see even our businesses here as an opportunity for fulfilling God’s mission in the world and for seeking first the Kingdom of God. Not only can Business fund mission, but it can also be the means by which we do mission.
I am calling for a transformation of our understanding of business. We usually think of business as a way to cheat people, because many of those who do business are not honest. But, that doesn’t make business necessarily bad or evil. If it is used for God’s purposes and done in God’s way, it can be a powerful tool for ministry.
The Church House project has been a long-time plan for such Business as Mission. I am pleased to report that soon we should begin construction on the Church House. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support over many years. We have entered into an agreement with Sun Developers, who will take Church House forward under a Build-Operate and Transfer arrangement. Please pay special attention to the details contained in the Church House Board report.
13. Stewardship as Mission
During this Decade of Mission I urge us to make stewardship a strong focus in everything we do.
Most of us would not normally think of the way we handle money as a spiritual matter. But, it is. The Bible has 275 verses that speak about prayer. But, it has 2,350 verses that speak about money, wealth, and possessions. This is a topic that is important to God…and, it should be important to us. Our theme is “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [we need] will be added unto you.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Seek first your material comfort, and then God’s Kingdom will be added unto you.” No, we are to seek first God’s Kingdom.
We in Uganda have amazing resources that have been entrusted to us by God. During this Decade of Mission I want to encourage every Bishop, every parish priest, and every Lay Reader to teach every year, throughout the year, what the Bible says about tithing and stewardship.
It’s not enough, though, to teach only about personal stewardship. We must be good corporate stewards of the resources God has given to us. That’s why accountability and transparency in our financial management is so important.
I want to appreciate our current Board of Finance and the staff in the Treasury Department of the Provincial Secretariat. They are upgrading us in our corporate stewardship. I also encourage every diocese to continually upgrade the skills and capacity of your Bishop, Diocesan Treasurer, and Diocesan Secretary in the area of financial management. If you are not getting a good financial report every quarter, then you do not have adequate information to be a good steward of the resources God has given to you.
The more we as leaders are accountable and transparent with what our people are giving to God, then the more our people will move toward obedience in tithing. But, as leaders, we must lead. That means we must go first. We must set the example of tithing and transparency ourselves.
Finally, I want to call upon every diocese and institution in our church, and even the provincial secretariat, to set targets for reducing our dependency upon outside funding and to increase the percentage of local resources that are funding our mission. By the next Provincial Assembly I would like to honour the diocese that has made the most progress, and the institution that has made the most progress.
14. Public Policy and Civic Responsibility as Mission
Paul, in his letter to the Romans (Rom 12.18), exhorts us saying, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As a country, we are facing ongoing challenges related to our common life and our maturing as a democracy. As Christians and as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called to be salt and light and to be engaged with public policy and I urge each of us to be peacefully engaged in these issues.
In the recent past we have experienced serious challenges in the sphere of governance, especially with regard to the observance of, and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Laws, as you all know, are a product of our national aspirations. They are put in place for the good of all people in the country. It therefore pains us considerably when we hear, as we have heard or read in the media now and again, that the Police who are charged with the responsibility of protecting life and property and maintaining law and order have been mishandling Ugandans who are exercising their democratic rights to peaceful assembly.
It also pains us when we hear or read in the media that some Ugandans who are arrested have not been produced in court within the period of 48 hours that is prescribed in our Constitution. The Constitution enjoins members of the security organs to observe and respect human rights when performing their duties and obligations. I therefore urge all concerned, including our policy makers, to appreciate that respect for the law is the basis of a healthy and prosperous society. This is a principle that can be overlooked, neglected or compromised at great cost to our national pride and image.
I had an opportunity to meet H.E the President and among other things discussed the Land bill. As a church I urge the government to not rush this bill. Land is precious to everyone and the people need to be given time to understand and make comments freely. The best way to proceed peacefully on this matter is to not hurry the process, but to take time for careful thought and consultations by the various organs in place. Government should also protect the citizens who are being evicted during this interim period. Some influential people are taking advantage of this process to act greedily.
15. Anglican Communion
As far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that many of the churches in the Western world seem to be unrepentant in their promotion of unbiblical faith and practice. The most obvious symptom of this is the increasing number of churches permitting the blessing of same-sex unions. It is now happening not only in America and Canada, but also in England and Scotland.
The Lambeth Conference concluded at the beginning of this month, but approximately 30% of the Communion’s bishops, including all of our Bishops, did not attend. The Bishops from Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, and Sydney (Australia) could not in conscience attend a conference that was designed not to address the serious issues dividing the Communion and in which the persistent violators of previous Lambeth resolutions were invited. In fact, the Lambeth Conference made no resolutions and their lack of action has seriously weakened itself as a viable Instrument of Unity in the Communion.
While the Conference assumed Lambeth 1.10 as the standard of teaching in the Communion on sexuality, the reality was that in all discussion groups, every opinion was made to be valid. The net effect is the unfortunate weakening of Lambeth 1.10. Most of the Bishops in America who were already permitting the blessing of same-sex unions in their dioceses have returned home and assured their members that they will continue…despite the repeated calls for there to be a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions. So, in reality, the Communion is no further along in resolving the crisis, and may be in a worse place now than before Lambeth.
The good news about the Anglican Communion is represented by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) that 106 people from Uganda attended in June in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of a very intense week of plenary sessions, small group Bible studies, worship, and pilgrimages to Biblical sites, the 1,200 representatives there from 26 countries affirmed the Jerusalem Declaration.
GAFCON addressed the crisis of Biblical authority in the Anglican Communion by setting out the 14 tenets of the Jerusalem Declaration as a kind of Covenant. It addressed the crisis of ecclesiastical authority in the Communion by recognizing a Primates’ Council to provide leadership and accountability to the Fellowship into which we invite all Confessing Anglicans who uphold the historic faith of Anglicanism as articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration. GAFCON also did two other related things.
1. “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
2. This means that GAFCON can look forward to recognizing in North America the Common Cause Partnership as a legitimate ecclesial entity within Anglicanism. Common Cause has already appealed to the Primates’ Council for such recognition.
GAFCON is creating for the Anglican Communion what our revival fellowships are within the Church of Uganda. I am a member of the GAFCON Primates’ Council and I can assure you that this is a very good thing for the Anglican Communion and will help us return to our Biblical roots as a Communion. I hope you will consider a resolution that supports the Church of Uganda’s involvement in the emerging GAFCON Revival for the Anglican Communion.
As you know at our last Provincial Assembly, I recommended that we update our Constitution so that as a Church we define who we are in full communion with solely on the basis of adherence to doctrine and upholding the Bible. This proposal received wide support at the 18th Provincial Assembly, but because of a procedural matter, the decision was deferred. We are still working through the amendment process, but I would like to ask this Provincial Assembly to reaffirm, in principle, our position that as a Church we declare that “we are in full communion with all Churches, Dioceses and Provinces of the Anglican Communion throughout the world that receive, hold, and maintain the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the Word of God written and the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God, and containing all things necessary for salvation.”
We have prepared materials you can collect at this Provincial Assembly that answer questions about GAFCON, the Anglican Communion, and the Church of Uganda. We also have copies for you of the Jerusalem Declaration.
So, beloved, this is what I mean by a Decade of Mission. No one can escape. There is a place for each of us. Jesus put it this way to his disciples on the day of his Ascension into heaven, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1.8) We’re talking about a Decade of Mission in our personal lives, in our churches, in our institutions, in our country, and in the Anglican Communion…and even to places where there are no existing churches! For too long we have been complacent as a church, and we need a vision we can rally around.
Allow me to extend a vote of thanks to the Secretariat for the hard work exhibited in producing the documents and Uganda Christian University and others for the team work that has made this Assembly successful.
Once again, I thank the Hon. Prime Minister for slotting in this time amidst his heavy schedules to open this Assembly and his firm Christian stand and ably representing the government in good and bad moments.
Our delegates, invited guests and all our mission partners, we value your presence and thank you for putting aside this time for us. May He who brought you here safely, bless you and go ahead of you as you will be traveling back to your respective places. God bless you.
Allow me to announce to you the appointment of the new Bishop of Mityana Diocese. He is Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba who will be succeeding the Rt. Rev. Dr. Dunstan Bukenya. His Consecration and Enthronement will be on 26th October 2008 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Mityana.
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA