The Bishop of Kumi, the Rt. Rev. Michael Okwii Esakhan, is seeking the intervention of security agencies in the intra-Christian wrangles bedeviling the Diocese, which include continued attacks by the members of the new Reformed Anglican Church-RAC.
In a memorandum to the Resident District Commissioners—RDCs of Bukedea, Kumi, and Ngora districts (which make up Kumi Diocese), Bishop Okwii said that his Christians, the clergy, the church-founded institutions and property, including worship centres, are under attack and raids by the RAC Christians and their leader, the Rt. Rev. Charles Okunya Oode.
Bishop Okwii has raised 19 complaints against the RAC group that he seeks security intervention in. Some of the complaints raised by the bishop include the alleged illegal and forceful conversion of the church land; denying access to church property like places of worship; threatening violence; theft; causing bodily harm; death threats; and vandalism.
The memorandum to RDCs reads in part: “This group of uncouth RAC elements is mobilized and led by some priests and some lay readers who defected from the Church of Uganda Diocese of Kumi and have joined and professed to be members of the Reformed Anglican Church.” art. “They have unabatedly continued committing painful criminal acts which are severely angering and provoking our Christians to wage counter-attacks on them.”
Bishop Okwii accuses the founder bishop of the RAC in the Upper Nile Diocese, Rt. Rev. Charles Okunya Oode, of allegedly terrorizing CoU Christians, clergy, and lay readers by the influence of the authorities within the three districts. He says that Okunya has gathered local leaders, including the rebel clergy and gangs from all circles around himself, to cause mayhem in the church.
“As a Church Leader, I, for the last four months, since my consecration and enthronement as the second bishop of the Church of Uganda Diocese of Kumi on March 6, 2022, have done my best to restrain the Christians under my jurisdiction from retaliating with violence, but their anger has now gone beyond my capacity to control,” Bishop Okwii adds in his pleas to the security heads.
He wants the police to intervene by investigating, arresting, and prosecuting in courts of law, all the perpetrators of the said criminal acts.
Bishop Okwii is also seeking recovery of church property allegedly taken by the RAC from CoU. The said property includes motorbikes, residential houses, places of worship, keyboards, land titles, and documents, among others.
According to Bishop Okwii, the new Reformed Anglican Church is interfering with the Anglican Church of Uganda in Kumi Diocese programs by grabbing the established places of worship, taking over management in CoU-founded schools and health facilities, and conducting baptisms, weddings and confirmations in CoU premises.
He wants the RDCs and the police to direct Okunya to officially and publicly denounce the alleged heinous acts perpetrated by RAC followers.
Bishop Okwii also accuses and names politicians, intelligence security officers, and the army chiefs from Teso of allegedly shielding Okunya, something he notes is frustrating investigations into the cases reported by CoU against RAC in different police stations.
In a meeting convened by John Rex Achila, the Kumi RDC, with his counterparts last week, the affected religious leaders were asked to seek solutions that pacify the warring dioceses. Achila says he has organized a meeting with the bishops of both dioceses to forge a way forward after receiving concerns from Bishop Okwii.
But Bishop Okunya, when contacted, said that the Church of Uganda Diocese of Kumi is responsible for whatever is happening in the diocese.
“They caused the disarray when they branded some Christians with names like hooligans, but instead of preaching reconciliation, peace and love to pacify Christians, they are turning their guns on the Reformed Anglican Church. “This is unfortunate,” he said.
He said that, as the Reformed Anglican Church, they preach peace and love for one another. “We don’t have time for hate speech or malice against our sister churches.” But as for struggling for places of worship, we are constructing our own worship centres, “he added.