Sort out leadership crisis in Kumi Diocese

Friday January 22 2021

Anglican bishops attending a recent function. The author is calling upon them to put Kumi diocese to order. PHOTO/FILE.

By Guest Writer

Kumi Diocese is faced with two closely interlinked ironies. First, the diocese is embroiled in a nasty, but easily resolvable leadership crisis. And second, it is the top management organ of the Anglican Church itself (ie House of Bishops), which perhaps inadvertently, triggered off and orchestrated the crisis! 

This latter irony is particularly serious because rather than opt to be seen as part of the solution, the House of Bishops appears to have chosen to be an integral part of the problem! Let me explain. 
It all started way back in 2020 when Thomas Irigei, the pioneer bishop of the then infant Kumi Diocese, retired. The onus of selecting and appointing a substantive successor bishop was (as per the established church tradition), left in the hands of the House of Bishops superintended by the Anglican Archbishop. The appointing authority dutifully obliged and allowed for the commencement of the search process at diocesan level. 

Two names promptly came up - Rev Semu Onangu (diocesan treasurer) and Rev Simon Omoding (university lecturer). This, however, turned out to be a false start when the House of Bishops rejected both nominees - Rev Onangu supposedly on account of financial impropriety and his wanting qualifications, and Rev Omoding due to his alleged unetheical behaviour! 

Accordingly, the House of Bishops ordered a restart of the search process afresh. A caretaker bishop was appointed to oversee the affairs of the diocese. So, once again, intensive and extensive consultations were conducted in the diocese. Well targeted in-depth interviews with key informants were also held.

This culminated in the prequalification of another two clergy, namely Rev Charles Okunya Oode and Rev Moses Okello (diocesan secretary). The names, papers and other details pertaining to this duo were forwarded to the House of Bishops for further scrutiny. Basing on the results of this meticulous process, Rev Okunya was declared a bishop-elect of Kumi Diocese. 

A date for his consecration was duly fixed. And already, Kumi Church of Uganda congregants were being mobilised to contribute money to help meet the costs of the planned consecration ceremony as well as enable expeditious completion of a new house for the bishop.


But Alas! While the news about Rev Okunya’s imminent consecration was greeted with jubilation by his faction, it was received with indignation and disdain by members of the anti-Okunya camp. Actually, the group (allegedly led by an elitist clique of “kingmakers” in Kumi), wrote a letter to the Archbishop protesting the impending elevation of Rev Okunya to Episcopal status. They accused him of being a liar who had opportunistically adjusted his age upwards. Rev Okunya was also considered unfit for the position of a bishop on moral grounds.  

On receiving the allegations, the House of Bishops again rescinded Rev Okunya’s appointment. It is this rather impulsive, tactless and suspicious capitulation by the appointing authority that has set the stage for confrontational between the belligerents.

Supporters of Rev Okunya have severally assaulted the caretaker bishop and other clergy, who are perceived to be opposed to Okunya’s promotion.

Henry Edison Okurut Kedi,