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How the Consecration of Rev. Okunya Failed

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“In the second round of the nomination exercise, the now-retired bishop also attacked one of the candidates, Rev. Captain Moses Okello as Illuminati, a thief, who had stolen his keys and stole a letter that was published in the press, Red Pepper, relating the Bishop-elect Okunya’s standing as a married man,” the letter reads.
St. Phillips Cathedral in Ngora.

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New findings from the key player in Kumi Diocese have revealed a series of events that preceded the nomination, selection and cancellation of the consecration of Rev. Charles Okunya Oode. The Church of Uganda House of Bishop of elected Rev. Okunya in November 2019 as the second bishop of Kumi Diocese. However, the same house revoked his name citing controversies over his age.  

Rev. Okunya was subsequently barred from taking part in any future nomination for the office of Bishop. Since then, Kumi Diocese has split into factions. A number of Christians have remained loyal to Rev. Okunya while another group is behind the decision of the Church. Some Christians have remained neutral with the hope that the impasse between Rev. Okunya and the church will be resolved soon.

At some point, the diocese recorded cases of violence directed at the clergy and Christians. New information obtained by URN show that the problems in the diocese started when the first Bishop, Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei issued a statement indicating that he would “select his successor”. This is contained in a January 20th, 2020 letter authored by Dr. John Ekure, a member of the Church Synod and member of the Kumi Diocese Bishop’s nomination committee.

According to Dr. Ekure, although he reminded Bishop Irigei that it was not his role to select a successor, his subsequent actions led to the failure of the process of electing the new bishop. He says that Bishop Irigei denied one of the nominees in the first round as clergy of the diocese. The letter also indicates that another Bishop Irigei also declared one of the candidates a homosexual and accused another of siring a child out of wedlock. Dr. Ekure says that the former bishop also failed the second batch of nominees.

“In the second round of the nomination exercise, the now-retired bishop also attacked one of the candidates, Rev. Captain Moses Okello as Illuminati, a thief, who had stolen his keys and stole a letter that was published in the press, Red Pepper, relating the Bishop-elect Okunya’s standing as a married man,” the letter reads. 

Dr. Ekure adds that he resigned from the chairmanship of the organizing committee a day prior to the announcement of the decision of the House of Bishops at Bororo after disagreeing with Rev. Okunya. He also faulted Rev. Okunya for holding parallel meetings alongside those he was chairing.

“The person chairing his parallel meetings in his village home was known to be a pastor of another church in his home, which I doubt is legally registered. Bishop-Elect continued to hold meetings with the elders of Ngora, a loose grouping of elders of suspicious character fighting the church and with the aim of destroying the Anglican Church of Ngora”, the letter continues.

The letter also noted that the decisions taken by the group were contradictory to the decision taken by the main committee, adding that the parallel-group failed to join the main committee, among other issues. Dr. Ekure, also the proprietor of Kumi Orthopedic Hospital observes in his letter that Rev. Okunya is bent on becoming bishop of Kumi Diocese by all means.  

Dr. Ekure, who had earlier denied the claims of masterminding the cancellation of the consecration of Rev. Okunya as the Bishop indicated in his letter to the House of Bishops that the priest didn’t qualify to become a bishop. He concluded his letter by highlighting issues of age, infidelity and dishonesty against Rev. Okunya.    

One of the supporter of Rev. Okunya, says the House of Bishops decided to cancel Rev. Okunya’s consecration basing  on the letter authored by Dr. Ekure, which they note was very unfortunate. Lt. Col. (RTD) Joseph Onange, the vice-chairperson of the committee of members supporting Rev. Okunya says that the province failed to reach the ground to establish facts and made decisions basing on an individual’s statement at the expense of thousands of Christians of Kumi Diocese.

He adds that after getting information against Rev. Okunya, they tried to seek an audience with the province to harmonize the issues in vain.

// cue in “But as they refused…


 

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Retired Bishop Irigei has since distanced himself from the failed consecration of the new bishop. While handing over the office to the former COU Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, Bishop Irigei said that he was surprised to see the errant behaviour of Christians and the clergy after the election of Rev. Okunya.

//Cue in “I don’t know whether…

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In June, High Court Civil Division in Kampala dismissed with costs a suit filed by Rev. Okunya against the board of trustees of the Church of Uganda for revoking his election, consecration and enthronement as the second Bishop of Kumi Diocese over the alleged variation in his age.

Whereas the supporters of Rev. Okunya have indicated that they will appeal the judgment, counter-accusations by the different factions continue to dominate discussions in Kumi Diocese. Dr. Ekure told URN that he has no regrets for authoring the letter because it is truthful.