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Archbishop pleads for children to return to church

Archbishop Kazimba

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr Stephen Samuel Kaziimba has asked the government to put in place strategies to enable children to attend church prayers again.

According to the primate, the youngsters were not included in the arrangements as the government opened churches in the era of mitigating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. While relaxing restrictions on the COVID-19 lockdown in September 2020, President Yoweri Museveni allowed places of worship to reopen but with first a maximum of 70 worshipers, a number which was later increased to 200.

But the government maintained the restrictions on children who have also been locked out of school as one of the measures to control the spread of the coronavirus disease. According to the Archbishop, closing the children out not only affects their spiritual growth, but also locks out several parents from attending church.

He appealed to the government to come up with strategies of providing special prayer programs for the children as it moves to open up schools.“…definitely this affected the worshippers and my heart is crying because we do not have children coming to church. I am crying inside because how can we have the children not worshipping?” he said.

Kaziimba was speaking to journalists at his residence in Namirembe, outlining the achievements and challenges he and the church have faced in his first year as Archbishop.

He was enthroned Archbishop on March 1, 2020, and later Bishop of Kampala Diocese on March 8, 2020. Immediately after his enthronement, the country was forced into a lockdown, a situation that led to the closure of all places of worship as one of the restrictions to keep coronavirus at bay. He said that the closure of churches has been the main challenge during his first year of service as the Archbishop.

The Archbishop also noted the demolition of St Peter’s Church, Ndeeba as one of the big challenges he has so far faced. The 40-year-old structure was razed under the cover of darkness in August 2020, after a longstanding wrangle between the church leadership and a businessman identified as Dodovico. For several months, the building was guarded by police.

“It has not happened before in the history of the Church of Uganda, but I am happy that the government has intervened to help. Not only in Ndeeba church but even areas where land has been grabbed,” he said.

He added that he has also had several issues he described as administrative citing the downsizing of workers across the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also highlighted moral issues albeit without divulging details.

Criticism about the country’s political leadership, wrangles in Kumi Diocese and the death of the Bishop of Nebbi Diocese Rt. Rev. Alphonse Watho-Kudi also feature among the challenges.

But despite the challenges, the Archbishop highlighted pastoral visits to all incumbent and retired Bishops in the province as well as widows to the late Bishops as one of his achievements. Also highlighted is the consecration of the Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, embracing the use of media and new technology to preach to the masses, the convening of the first Archbishop’s Leadership Summit, giving relief and support to the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic and others.

Kaziimba also said that the church has also lobbied for government support towards encouraging modern agriculture in the province and that several tractors and seedlings were availed to support Dioceses make use of their land and develop it to avoid grabbers.

Kaziimba added that they have been able to receive partners, HD2 Technologies who have helped the Church of Uganda to open up a call centre worth 70 million Shillings which will help in communication, collaboration and coordination of work across the Province of the Church of Uganda. The same donors have availed a 51 million Shillings CCTV security system for the new All Saints’ Cathedral building that is nearing completion.

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