“I wish that every diocese had a representative here”

This month saw the launch of a new, central, training-of-trainers cohort in Uganda. The two-year, mixed-mode programme is based at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Namugongo, in the form of a Diploma in Bible, Theology & Leadership (similar to the Kenya programme described last month). It was wonderful to witness students gathering from across Uganda and beyond, as the first residential block got underway.

Uganda was represented by these dioceses: Bunyoro-Kitara, Busoga, Masindi-Kitara, Mityana, Rwenzori, Soroti and West Buganda. But students also came from further afield: Matana Diocese in Burundi, Kamango in Congo, as well as from Athooch, Lainya and Yei in South Sudan. The five South Sudanese students from those dioceses are currently refugees in Rhino Camp, north western Uganda, and they have come with a vision to equip others in the settlement. It was not only encouraging to see new dioceses represented, but also to have a day visitor from Karamoja: Rev Samuel Ngorok. As the diocese’s Education Secretary Samuel is a well-equipped and well placed leader, who is developing plans for BUILD training in Karamoja.

The course was opened officially by the Church of Uganda’s new Provincial Education Director, Rev Paul Kakooza. Due to existing links with BUILD, Rev Kakooza has been quick to promote BUILD and is encouraging wider take up within the Church. This was reflected in his opening speech in which he stressed “the importance of having a training of this nature” and his desire for BUILD to spread within the Church. While he thanked the students who were there he shared his bigger vision: “I am also praying that every diocese has a representative, because we are targeting to train people to train others. I wish we could have trainers from each diocese trained to go and train others.” That longing is based on the conviction that, “if we do not do something as the Church of Uganda, we are finished. The Church is surrounded by numerous challenges, we need to be prepared to combat them, to ensure that the Church is steady and that the purpose of the Church is fulfilled. So I want to thank Canon Kewaza and I want to thank our partners for this programme, which is going to redeem the Church.”

Rev Kakooza went on to emphasise a number of significant areas that BUILD has a part to play in, including the urgent need for discipleship, the retooling of existing ministers, and the importance of the research component of the diploma. “We have challenges in discipleship,” he explained, “the Church has preached the gospel and people have been saved. But where are they? Where are they?” And on the refreshing of existing leaders he explained: “I am very happy to see clergy in this class. You clergy, you cannot be the same when you go back. You know we have pride, foolish pride as clergy, we think we know everything. But we don’t know, we always need to be refilled, nourished and encouraged. So I thank you for coming, to be humble, to sit at the feet of some people here to refill us, even spiritually.”

The Director of Education challenged the students over their research to focus on this question “What is important?” for the growth of the Church: “You know the meaning of research, but sometimes you have taken it for granted. Can we try to identify problems? Don’t do things others have already done; look for new areas where the Church will benefit. The new areas are there but people don’t want to venture into them.”

The backing of the Province of the Church of Uganda as a whole could not have been clearer at this important stage in the growth of the programme. Not only did the Provincial Director of Education open the event, but Rev Canon Capt William Ongeng, the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Secretary, closed the first residential block: his prayer, too, is for this programme, which has its home in the Church of Uganda, to serve its Church well but to continue to encourage the neighbouring provinces, just as it is already doing.