Destined to serve in church

Chrysostom Akwech assistant chaplain at Kakumba Chapel Kyambogo displays plaques he won for outstanding service. Photos by Esther Oluka

What you need to know:

RISING FOR GOD. Chrysostom Akwech, Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) former Guild President opened up to Esther Oluka how he ended up serving in the church as an assistant Chaplain.

Our appointment is at 4pm on a Monday afternoon. The venue is St Kakumba Chapel, Kyambogo University. This is where I find Chrysostom Akwech, the assistant chaplain at the chapel.

One of the things that strike me as Akwech, 29, ushers me to his fairly big office is its neatness. The floor is spotless; the books on the shelf are well-arranged as well as the cups, sugar bowl and flask placed on the table. He asks if I would like a cup of tea but I politely turn it down and instead ask for water. Immediately, he goes to pick up a bottle from one of the boxes in the corner of his office. As soon as he is done, Akwech takes his seat right opposite me.
Our conversation starts when I ask him what the two plaques placed at the top of the shelf are for.

“Oh, you mean these ones?” he responds while picking up one.
“One was given to me after serving as guild president at Uganda Christian University from the year 2011 to 2012. The other was an acknowledgment for my dedicated service on the university council in the same period, ” he states.

It was the urge to serve fellow students that inspired him to stand for the position. He joined the university in 2009 to study a bachelors in Divinity, a course that tackled things such as church history, theology, among others.

On what helped him to juggle his guild leadership position and studies at the time, Akwech responds that it was delegating authority to his guild ministers to take care of certain things whenever he was unable to, following the time table which would guide him on where to be at a certain time, getting involved in class discussion groups and also constantly keeping in touch with his lecturers who helped to keep him abreast of class work from time to time.

Reflecting on his childhood
Akwech was born to Veronica and James Akwech in 1986. He is the fourth child of five. While growing up, the clergy leader says he was a little shy and reserved, attributes that he says he still has even now. “Despite of that, when I start talking, I really open up to people,” he says. But also, he was the kind of child who liked leading prayers and encouraging his friends to go to church. He says it’s no wonder that he was passionate about studying Divinity at university. “It is something that I really wanted to study. I am in the right ministry. I have no regrets whatsoever serving in the church. This was where I was destined to be,” he says with a smile.

His journey to the church
Right after graduation, he was placed to serve as curate at St James Chapel, Makerere University Business School (MUBS) where his primary focus was to evangelise, motivate and assist undergraduate and postgraduate students to deepen their faith as well as expand the involvement of students in church ministry. He was later promoted to assistant chaplain which involved leading worship services, coordinating chapel activities and administering Holy Communion.

The earlier internship placements he had gotten from religious institutions such as St Peter’s Dandira Church of Uganda in Mukono Diocese, UCU chaplaincy and MUBS was what helped him adjust to his respective roles as curate and assistant chaplain.

Ordained deacon on December 2, 2012 by Bishop Henry Luke Orombi, then Archbishop of the Province of the Church of Uganda, Akwech three years later was transferred to St Kakumba Chapel, Church of Uganda at Kyambogo University where he serves as assistant chaplain.

“My responsibilities are still the same. I evangelise, coordinate chapel activities, coordinate communication strategies, prepare members for baptism and attend major ceremonial events,” he says.

Biggest challenge
One of the outstanding trials Akwech finds on his job includes the high expectations people have of clergy leaders.

“We cannot do everything. A student might come to me for instance, with a tuition or any other personal problem and wants help but then I may not have the money to bail him or her out,” he says.

In such cases, Akwech says, he gives confidence to the student by either praying for them or counselling them. That way the student does not easily give up.

In the next five years
“By that time, I still want to be reaching out to people of my generation by encouraging them to put God in every perspective of their life. Also, I hope that more people will be active in church by then. ”

Timeline
1993 to 2000: Kibuli Demonstration School
2001 to 2004: City Star Secondary School (now Excel High School, Mukono) for O-Level)
2005 to 2006: St Peter’s Secondary School, Nsambya.
2012: Uganda Christian University
2013: Akwech enrolled for a Master of Business Administration which he is still pursuing at Makerere University Business School (MUBS).

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