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Ugandan Archbishop Reclaims Church Properties

The Anglican Church of Uganda has worked in recent weeks to regain church buildings taken over by Bishop Charles Okunya Oode and his followers.

Okunya left the Church of Uganda after its House of Bishops reversed its decision to elect him as Bishop of Kumi, on the grounds that he did not meet the church’s minimum age of 45. A court ruling found in favor of the Church of Uganda.

After he left the Church of Uganda, Okunya was consecrated as bishop of the Reformed Anglican Church of Uganda’s new Diocese of the Upper Nile.

The Reformed Anglican Church in Uganda was founded in 2017 by its current archbishop, the Most Rev. Jonathan Kyangasha. It has no known connection with a small American continuing Anglican denomination of the same name, but claims fellowship with several small continuing Anglican churches around the world. Kyangasha’s episcopal orders were recognized first by the African Orthodox Church, an Old Catholic church, which was founded by a group of Black American Episcopalians and the noted Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey in 1918.

The Independent reported that the Church of Uganda’s archbishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Stephen Kazimba Mugalu, and Bishop Michael Okwi Esakhan of the Diocese of Kumi led a delegation that was reclaiming churches and consecrating them anew for use by the Church of Uganda. The newspaper said the two bishops were accompanied by “security heads and local government leaders in Kumi and Ngora districts.”

Adams Sadiiki, communications officer of the Church of Uganda, said the archbishop intended to reclaim 345 congregations.

“The Rev. Okunya and his team are at liberty to buy land, construct churches, and worship in any places they choose, but not interfering with the establishment of the Church of Uganda Diocese of Kumi. It’s not just sinful but also criminal,” Sadiiki told the newspaper in a phone interview.

Judith Nabakooba, lands minister for Uganda’s national government, has said she will bolster registration of church properties. Incomplete registration has made it much easier for the Reformed Anglican Church to assume ownership of Church of Uganda property.

“I have briefed my permanent secretary and the technical team. I think this is the time to help churches register their land. We will request of you one thing: have your trustees regularly updated and make annual returns for those trustees,” she said.

“Archbishop, I request you to give me a team from your side and I will also get a technical team to help work with your people to see how they can have the land registered,” she added.

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