Tracing the roots of the Orthodox Church in Uganda

The modern Orthodox Church structure in Namungoona. It was built between 1956 and 1957 after the church had been registered in accordance with the incorporation Act. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

In the dusty neighbourhoods of Namungoona on the outskirts of Kampala, stands St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral. The 57-year-old house of worship is the Metropolia (main church) of the Orthodox faith in Uganda. This sanctuary which also accommodates a hospital and a school has transformed the hilly village drawing admiration from residents.
The 2002 Uganda National Bureau of Statistics report lists Orthodox Christians as a mainstream religious group. The sect commands one per cent following of the 24 million population interviewed at the time.
Theodore Kato, the church’s secretary general estimates the faithful to be 1.4 million. He also says the church has common traits with other Christian sects like the belief that God revealed himself through Jesus Christ, the incarnation of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection-only differing in lifestyle, worship and aspects of spirituality like God and man, confessions, transcendence of God, Holy spirit and trinity.
The word “Orthodox” is derived from the Greek words orthos (right) and doxa (belief). Hence orthodox literally means correct belief or right thinking.
A summary of history from the BBC has it that after the ascension of Jesus Christ, another splinter group with roots in the Roman Empire emerged from the church giving birth to the Orthodox Church. However, internal rumblings within this sect forced it to split into two-the Orthodox Catholic Church and Orthodox Christian Church. These splinter groups, however, remain united in faith and by a common approach to worship, theology and tradition.
In Uganda, the faith is marking 81 years of existence and its foundation is commemoratively attributed to the relentless efforts of Bishop Christophorous Reuben Spartas Mukasa Ssebanja, a former Anglican faithful.

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