What you need to know:
- Mugisha was consecrated bishop of Muhabura in July 2007 and was expected to retire in 2023. But on September 13, he announced his intention to retire early from service. He then asked the Muhabura Diocesan Council to kick-start a process of selecting his successor.
Muhabura Diocese has kick-started the search for a new bishop after incumbent Cranmer Mugisha opted for an early retirement.
Bishop Mugisha, 63, says he feels he has fulfilled God’s mission, and was time to retire.
Mugisha was consecrated bishop of Muhabura in July 2007 and was expected to retire in 2023. But on September 13, he announced his intention to retire early from service. He then asked the Muhabura Diocesan Council to kick-start a process of selecting his successor.
He said the Province of the Church of Uganda had approved his request for early retirement.
The Muhabura diocesan secretary, the Rev Stephen Ruzaza, on Friday confirmed that the process of electing a new bishop commenced on October 11 when the Diocesan Synod elected Kampala-based lawyer Ernest Joel Sendegeya as diocesan chancellor.
He replaces Justice Christopher Gashirabake, who was recently appointed judge of the High Court.
The Rev Ruzaza said: “Now that the Diocesan Chancellor has been elected, the Diocesan Synod will soon appoint the bishop’s nomination committee comprising 15 people chaired by the Diocesan Chancellor to select two names among the clergy that will be presented to the House of Bishops for selection as bishop-elect for Muhabura Diocese.”
He said the bishop’s nominations committee includes five clergy, two of whom must be canons, three lay youths; one of whom must be female, three lay women, three lay men, and the Diocesan Chancellor.
A section of Christians led by Ms Irene Semiryango on September 14 wrote to the Anglican Archbishop, warning of a succession crisis.
They accused the incumbent bishop of lining up relatives to succeed him and take control of the diocesan administration.
The petitioners asked the Archbishop to intervene quickly to avoid a repeat of 2001 crisis in the diocese.
Violent succession battles erupted in the diocese between 2001 and 2007 after then Bishop Earnest Shalita recommended the Rev Can David Sebuhinja as his successor against the will of the laity, who preferred the Rev Can Wilson Baganizi.
This wrangle sparked off bitter animosity among the Christians and clergy, with some Christians placing pins in the bishop’s chair in the cathedral and others denying him access to church premises.
The head of laity at Muhabura Diocese, Mr John Tereraho, dismissed the alleged succession crisis.
“There is no succession crisis in Muhabura Diocese because the process of selecting a successor to our bishop has not even started, so there cannot be a succession crisis when no candidate has been selected,” Mr Tereraho said.
He added: “We have enjoyed cordial relationship with Bishop Mugisha for the 14-years he has been in office. I am sure the diocese will remain united even after the House of Bishops selects his successor.”
Bishop Mugisha said although he has informed the Province of Church of Uganda and the Muhabura Diocesan Administration about his early retirement intention, he is not fronting any successor because he knows only God calls his servants.
“I have opted for early retirement because I feel I have done what God called me for. I became bishop of Muhabura because it was God’s plan. If our people involved in promoting hatred and stage-managing the succession crisis could reflect on how I was chosen to serve, they would know that it’s only God that chooses his servants,” Bishop Mugisha said.