In an unexpected development, the Church of Uganda’s House of Bishops has decided to delay the election of the next Bishop of Namirembe Diocese due to a recently received petition. This postponement comes with the announcement that the nomination process is still ongoing, and a final decision has not been reached.
The Church of Uganda provincial spokesperson, Adams Sadik, confirmed this decision, stating that the House of Bishops would communicate further guidance to the nominations committee in due course.
The House of Bishops had convened with the intention of electing bishops for the Diocese of East Busoga and Namirembe, among other matters. However, on the eve of the meeting, a group of elders submitted a petition to Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, alleging corruption, conflicts of interest, and perceived unfairness in the selection process for the next Bishop of Namirembe Diocese.
The provincial spokesperson did not explicitly link the petition to the deferment of the bishop election but mentioned that certain matters had led to this decision. Detailed reasons for the action taken by the Church of Uganda’s top leadership will be communicated to the nominating committee at a later time.
The election of a new bishop is significant as the current Bishop of Namirembe Diocese, Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira, is nearing the retirement age of 65. To facilitate a smooth transition, the process of selecting a new bishop began with the nomination team, chaired by Fred Mpanga, identifying suitable candidates.
Despite disagreements during the Synod meeting, two names were eventually forwarded to the House of Bishops. According to Church of Uganda canons, eligibility for nomination as a bishop includes ordination as a priest with a minimum of ten years’ pastoral experience, being at least 45 years old, and holding relevant academic qualifications.
Recent years have witnessed controversies in bishop elections across various dioceses within the Church of Uganda, leading to divisions and even legal disputes. It remains to be seen how the Namirembe nomination committee will navigate this process without generating controversy.
The historical backdrop of conflicts in bishop elections can be traced back to the 1965 election of Archbishop Erica Sabiti and the role of the Namirembe Christian Organization advocating for Muganda heritage.
Namirembe Diocese, established in 1960, has had five bishops, with Bishop Luwalira overseeing significant developments, including the renovation of Namirembe Cathedral, the establishment of Namirembe FM, and various church-related projects.
Namirembe Cathedral, also known as St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, holds a prestigious status as the oldest cathedral in Uganda, serving both as the provincial cathedral of the Anglican Church of Uganda and the diocesan cathedral for Namirembe Diocese, established in 1890.