Why Christians In The Anglican Church Of Uganda Are Challenging The New Bishops


In recent years, bishops in the Anglican Church of Uganda commanded a lot of respect. When a bishop said something, the congregation would believe it without question. That was the kind of relationship that existed for decades between bishops and the congregation. The bishop’s word was almost final. 

Lately, however, the flock in the church has been challenging the election processes of the new bishops in tribunals and courts of law. 

In the last 10 years, the Anglican Church of Uganda has been rocked by a number of grinding legal battles pitting the flock against newly consecrated bishops and archbishops. Nearly all four regions of Uganda have witnessed a legal battle in which Christians have challenged the process of electing their bishops. 

The Christians usually accuse the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of failing to follow the canon while choosing new bishops. 

The new bishops, whose elections are challenged, are always accused of offering themselves to participate in fraudulent exercises. These battles keep coming up one after the other in the province of the church.. 

The latest battle pits Nelson Habasa, a member of the flock from the Kigezi Diocese in western Uganda, against his diocesan bishop, the Rev. Gaddie Akanjuna.

On March 31, Habasa petitioned the office of the provincial secretary of the Anglican Church, challenging the election and later consecration of Bishop Akanjuna. 

He noted that Akanjuna, who was consecrated on May 29, 2022, as the sixth bishop of the Kigezi Diocese, lacked the minimum academic qualifications to hold the office. 

According to Habasa, Canon 3.7.22 of the Anglican Church of Uganda says that a bishop ought to possess a bachelor’s degree in theology or divinity or a first degree in any other field with a subsequent post-graduate diploma in theology/divinity. He argued that while Akanjuna has a bachelor’s in education and an ordinary diploma in theology, he does not have a post-graduate diploma in theology or divinity as required to pass the test to become bishop. 

“Our client brings these articles of presentment against the Rt. Rev. Akanjuna for the willful violation of the Provincial Constitution, Canons of the Church of Uganda contrary to Article 13(6) of the Provincial Constitution of the Church of Uganda, and Canon 3.6.2 and Canon 3.7.22,” the petition read.

“This charge has been preferred by our client because he is aware that the Bishop of Kigezi Diocese does not possess the required academic qualifications necessary for the consecration of the bishop let alone his nomination. This allegation shall later be proved by our client at the hearing of this matter.”

But the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church does not seem ready to listen to such petitions against Bishop Akanjuna.

In a recent message to the aggrieved Christians in the Kigezi Diocese, the Rev. Canon William Ongeng, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda, advised the aggrieved Christians to petition God, who anoints church leaders, and not to seek legal redress in the earthly courts of law. 

It’s not clear whether the church will convene a tribunal to hear the petition or when.

This is just one of the many cases in the Anglican Church of Uganda where members of the flock are challenging the process of electing their bishops. 

In the Kumi Diocese, eastern Uganda, a group of Christians recently dragged the archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, to court, accusing him of failing to follow the law in electing their new bishop, the Rev. Michael Okwii Esakhan. 

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