The House of Bishops has elected Reverend Canon Godfrey Kasana Ssemakula and Rev. Barnabas Tibaijuka as the fourth and first Bishops of Luwero and West Ruwenzori Dioceses respectively. Rev. Canon Captain Stephen William Ongeng, the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda announced the development in a statement issued Monday.
He explained that the House of Bishops had chosen the 52-year-old Canon Kasana Ssemakula and Tibaijuka, 48, during their session in Kisoro district. Canon Kasana Ssemakula is set to succeed Bishop Eridard Nsubuga Kironde, who is retiring in July this year after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 while Rev. Tibaijuka will steer the newly created West Ruwenzori Diocese, which was recently carved out of Ruwenzori Diocese.
Canon Kasana Ssemakula, the Archdeacon of Ndejje Archdeaconry, holds a Bachelor of Divinity from Uganda Christian University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Development from Ndejje University. He was ordained Deacon in 2009, and in 2020 he became a canon at St Mark Cathedral. Canon Kasana Ssemakula has served in various positions, including Lay Leader, Diocesan Youth Secretary, Parish Priest, Archdeacon, and Diocesan Director of Household and Community Transformation.
He is married to Harriet Kasana and has seven children. The consecration and enthronement of the Bishop-elect Kasana Ssemakula is scheduled for July 16, 2023, at St Mark Cathedral in Luwero town council. The election of Canon Kasana Ssemakula comes amidst controversies among Christians in Luwero Diocese regarding the nomination of candidates.
Some Christians in Luwero Diocese had earlier petitioned the Provincial Chancellor of the Church of Uganda to halt the election of the fourth Bishop, citing bribery and unlawful nomination of candidate Reverend Abel Sserwanja Merewooma, the parish priest of St Stephen’s Church Kireka in Namirembe Diocese. The Nomination Committee had selected Reverend Abel Sserwanja Merewooma and Reverend Canon Godfrey Kasana as the successful candidates out of eight aspirants for the position.
However, the Province nullified the nomination of Reverend Abel Sserwanja Merewooma and ordered the Chancellor of Luwero Diocese, Apollo Makubuya, to submit another name. The Christians welcomed the nullification but later petitioned Luwero Bishop, demanding that the nomination committee be disbanded, and the process be conducted afresh. Despite the controversy, the House of Bishops picked Canon Kasana Ssemakula as the Bishop of Luwero Diocese from the two names submitted by the Luwero Diocesan Chancellor.
The bishop-elect, Rev. Tibaijuka, began his ministry as a Catechist and was later ordained as a deacon in 2010 and a priest in 2011. After his ordination, he served in the Diocese of Ruwenzori Diocesan office as the Diocesan Youth Worker and as the Vicar of several parishes. In addition to his church work, Rev. Tibaijuka has also worked on translating the Bible into Lubwisi and taught at Bishop Balya College.
He took early retirement from civil service and is currently a member of the Diocesan Synod and Vice Chairperson for the Diocese of Ruwenzori House of Clergy. The Church of Uganda Provincial Secretary’s statement also indicates that the newly elected bishop has served as a classroom teacher and Head Teacher in several Primary Schools. Rev. Tibaijuka holds a Bachelor of Divinity from Uganda Christian University (UCU), Mukono, earned in 2011, and a Master’s degree from Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal, earned in 2016.
In 2017, a group of renegade Christians in Bundibugyo District requested to break away from Ruwenzori Diocese and demanded the transfer of Canon Jonathan Kyangasha, who had been appointed Archdeacon of Bumadu. The Church of Uganda Synod approved the creation of the new West Ruwenzori Diocese and asked the authorities to construct staff houses, the Bishop’s house, and appoint qualified staff.
Bumadu Archdeaconry will be the headquarters of the new Diocese, which will comprise three archdeaconries, 21 parishes, and 163 churches with a population of over 165,000 Christians. The selection process for the newly created West Ruwenzori Diocese initially faced challenges after a group of Anglicans cited bias, tribalism, and influence peddling. On 1st March, Ruwenzori Diocese nominated two priests and forwarded their names to the House of Bishops.
However, on 15th March, a group of Bakonzo Anglicans petitioned the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, accusing the Obudingiya Bwa Bwamba cultural institution of interfering in the affairs of electing a bishop, which they claimed was an attempt to sideline non-Bamba communities from the new diocese.
The Ruwenzori Diocese Bishop, Rueben Kisembo, recently called for a mediation meeting between the two tribes, which resulted in reconciliation and both groups pledging to work together and accept whoever will be elected as bishop of the new diocese.