Masindi-Kitara, Uganda: A model BUILD diocese?

Masindi-Kitara Diocese is the home diocese of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. Its current Bishop, George Kasangaki, recently thanked God that “the BUILD programme has come to the Diocese.” However, it was a local member of a BUILD group who shared that “we want to see BUILD in Masindi-Kitara as a model for other dioceses.” And there are many ways in which it could serve in that way, not least because it lies 220 kms north of Kampala, away from the perceived centre of resources.

First, there are acute training needs in its 36 parishes with their 320 daughter churches served by 52 clergy, and they recognise  the need to train those who care for local congregations, “the ones who spend most of the time with the people.” One of the parishes in which there is a BUILD group has one clergyman serving 26 daughter churches helped by seven elderly lay readers. The youngest of those seven is now 62 years old, most should have retired, and they have been waiting patiently for others to be trained up. And there are a wide variety of other needs across the diocese: for example, the need for teachers to be trained as lay chaplains in 150 or more primary schools.

Second, groups are developing and working effectively in very different settings. Wilfred Alinaitwe is equipping a group using St Matthew’s Cathedral as a base in the urban centre of Masindi town. There the group of 17 individuals is made up of two clergy and five lay readers, with 10 other lay leaders with a wide variety of responsibilities in their local churches. But Robert Angopa is leading a group in a very different, rural setting eight kilometres from the main road in Kiryandongo District, and Barnabas Balikagira heads up another in the Parish of Bweyale deep in the village.

Third, there is support not only from the top-down but also from the bottom-up. The support of Bishop George has been noted and his diocesan staff are behind the programme. But so are the local clergy who are supporting the training groups in the parishes. For example Rev Jackson Labejalola of Bweyale has been encouraging a group in his parish and taking pride in the work that is being done: “This is a God blessed programme that reveals God’s word and equips leaders in how to serve God’s people.”

Fourth, it is having an impact. For example, Rev Labejalola went on to share how his lay reader’s preaching has been transformed: “His preaching today in our church is far, far different to before, and the reports from the daughter churches are that their church teachers are also preaching better than before.”

Finally, local energy is going into mobilising groups for training: it has been good to see T-shirts with BUILD logos being produced locally by churches from their own resources and worn proudly in order to spread the word.

All the signs are that Masindi-Kitara will indeed be a model for other dioceses.

[Based on a report of a recent visit to Masindi-Kitara by Canon Stephen Kewaza, the Provincial BUILD Officer for the Church of Uganda.]