Kumi rebel Christians block Archbishop Kaziimba from accessing church

15 Mar 2024

A section of Christians in Kumi district blocked Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba from entering St. James Church grounds.

Trouble begun Tuesday when Kumi Bishop Mike Esakhan called a break-away faction wasps during Kaziimba’s ongoing tour of the diocese to reclaim properties lost to Reformed Anglican Church.

Not even police could stop the angry congregation, which broke away from the main Anglican Church after their choice for bishop, Rev Charles Okunya, was denied the chair by both court and House of Bishops.

The aggrieved community had taken over a number church property in Kumi.

Archbishop Kaziimba who arrived in Kumi Diocese for a four-day official pastoral visit last Friday reclaimed three churches and commissioned St. Stephen CoU Oladot in Mukungoro Archdeaconry. The other reclaimed churches are; St. Peter’s Kanyum CoU, Aterai CoU and Onyakelo CoU in Kumi district.

During the operation, priests and lay readers belonging to the Reformed Anglican Church were evicted from the church houses by the angry Christians and the security team moving with the Archbishop.

The CoU Communications Officer, Adams Sadiiki says that the operations will continue until all the 34 churches hijacked by Bishop Okunya and his team will be recovered.

“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,” said Sadiiki on a phone interview on Saturday.

During the operation, the Archbishop Kaziimba condemned the level of indiscipline by Okunya and team of grabbing Church land, Churches and Schools and called on them to repent.

Okunya, formally a priest working with Kumi Diocese broke away from the church after losing the leadership as Bishop of Kumi Diocese in 2020.

The Rev. Okunya then, a diocesan education coordinator was elected Bishop of Kumi Diocese to replace the founding Bishop Thomas Edison Irigei (now deceased) but his election was cancelled over alleged dishonest conduct.

Okunya’s attempt to reclaim the seat in court failed when the ruling was delivered in favor of the church. Since then, Okunya joined the Reformed Anglican Church where he was installed bishop of the West Nile Diocese. His flock, majority Christians of Kumi Diocese confiscated churches and property under CoU and turned it their own, on account that the said property was acquired by themselves or donated by their great parents.

Although the CoU later elected and installed Bishop Esakhan to Kumi Diocese, there have been accusations and counter accusations between the Christians of CoU and the Reformed Anglican Church. Some of the incidences including violent scenes were reported to the Police and others handled in court.

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