Keeping up with the Church of Uganda

While recent blogs have talked about a number of new places and projects that BUILD has been developing, in November it was good to visit the original BUILD programme in the Church of Uganda. It was encouraging to see that it continues to grow and develop, mainly as a result of an ever-increasing number of individuals who have been trained and are now themselves using the training to train others.

By way of an update, the BUILD Unit remains an integral part of the Provincial Education Directorate. Canon Stephen Kewaza continues to lead the unit but increasingly acts in a senior and advisory capacity, reflecting his years of experience. Stephen has been released into that role with Mr Daniel Mukiibi (aka Muwanguzi) developing the operations side of the work. Daniel has been a BUILD volunteer for many years alongside his theological education by extension work, but is now part-time BUILD staff at the Provincial Secretariat, strengthening our hand there.

Daniel’s role includes being the point person for our Diploma in Bible, Theology and Leadership at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Namugongo (UMS). This BUILD-based training-of-trainers course has a new cohort of learners, with a strong contingent from Kitgum Diocese in the north of Uganda. The course is now a regular offering of the UMS Theology Department, and is fully integrated as a block-release programme, pioneering that approach ahead of other UMS programmes that have followed suit.

UMS’ new Head of Theology, Rev Alex Sserwadda, participated in BUILD’s curriculum development workshops from 2011, an involvement that served as initial pastoral training for him and others as well as helping the training to take shape. It is wonderful to see how Alex’s ministry and learning has grown and developed, and to know that he will now be helping to train others through UMS’ BUILD-based programme.

A few of those who were trained as trainers at UMS on a block-release, in-service basis caught wind of the visit and sent a number of  messages, providing evidence of the ongoing impact of the work (names and places abbreviated). For instance, Rev Eprius from Mityana Diocese, wrote “I am using the skills I acquired to preach the gospel thoroughly and am proud of BUILD’s efforts to equip church ministers so that they can preach the truths in a godly way, and are transforming people’s lives through the knowledge acquired from BUILD.”

Likewise Rev Noah in Busoga Diocese shared how grateful he is for the work of the BUILD course: “We have monthly prayer gatherings and at one of those an overseas partner heard me preaching and was inspired to give 144 Lusoga Bibles: now the word is spoken to the Christians in the language they hear and understand. And as a result of BUILD-skills the bishop has consecrated two churches, which had never happened in the life of the parish, and through those skills I was selected to be among thirty facilitators of a pastors equipping network in the diocese. That is to mention but a few encouragements.”

Another leader, Jacob, shared how, in October of this year, he trained 89 evangelists and is currently training eighteen new lay readers and eight Mother’s Union workers, who will be commissioned by the Bishop on 17 December.

Finally, one shared how BUILD has transformed his preaching, which has borne fruit in his own church, and the lay readers he works with “have also been empowered with BUILD skills to pastor those entrusted to them, because we meet every month and share together”. And it was also strategic in enabling him to enrol in a Bachelor of Divinity course, which is he now doing alongside his ministry.

As these testimonies demonstrate, BUILD Church of Uganda continues to develop, with plans to take on new projects in 2024. With the encouragement of the Provincial Education Department the emphasis is on non-formal, local-level training in various dioceses. It will be good to see the fruit of that.

Featured picture: A surprise meet-up, with, left to right, Wilber Buranda of West Rwenzori Diocese (trained by BUILD as a lay reader then as a trainer pre-ordination, now Diocesan Mission Coordinator); Daniel Mukiibi; five lay readers from West Rwenzori that Wilber has been involved in training; and Stephen Kewaza