Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Slow and sure wins a Community an Ace – Bishop’s Mission Order to Okusinza Mu Luganda.

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A senior Church of England clergy repeatedly declared a ‘first achievement‘ ‘for Southwark Diocese and possibly to the whole of England by our Luganda speaking community who have fervently worshipped in Luganda at St. Johns Church, Waterloo on the first Sunday of the month for over two decades. The occasion was officiated by none other than the Bishop of Southwark, The Right Rev Christopher Chessun assisted by the Archdeacon of Lambeth Chris Skilton on, rightly so, the first Sunday of March 2012 when they handed over the ‘ace’ in the form of Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO) which the Okusinza mu Luganda (OML) community strived for since 2008. Despite the rain and cold weather, the occasion was witnessed but a congregation which filled the church to capacity.

A BMO is a new legal device in the Church of England created as part of the ‘Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure’. It enables a bishop to legally recognise a mission initiative that will lead to a new Christian community – a fresh expression of church.
A BMO, is normally required where a fresh expression operates across parish, deanery or diocesan boundaries or in parallel with existing church structures. It is within this setting that OML has been recognized and awarded this “the first BMO” in Southwark Diocese.

Among those present on the day was Dr Serwano Godfrey Galiwango Sekweyama, the deputy to the representative of Ssabasajja Kabaka of Buganda in UK and Ireland and as a senior citizen member of OML congregation, made the following comments following the inauguration service.

“We are very proud of this achievement. The Luganda speaking community in the United Kingdom is quite large. It is mainly settled in Greater London and the Home Counties as well as in the large metropolitan cities of the United Kingdom. In the sixties and during the days when Ssekabaka Sir Edward Mutesa was in exile in the UK there was a Luganda Speaking Union whose members used to meet regularly to speak Luganda. Dr. Sam Bengo a member of OML is one of the surviving member of that group. Thus the desire of our community to congregate and converse in our mother tongue has been going on for a long time. Indeed under the UK census statistics Luganda in among the top ten foreign languages spoken in the United Kingdom.

During the Bishop’s Mission Order service we were repeatedly reminded by chief celebrant, the Bishop of Southwark to worship or sing in ‘your own language’. To me this was an acknowledgement that OML as a community in UK had publically won the battle which is indeed was an ‘Ace’ score for all of us Luganda speaking community in the UK.”

It all started at a wake in East London when a prominent member of the Buganda community was reported dead. We congregated at the ‘deceased’s home (not as Christians or other faith group) but as it was our custom to offer our condolences and support to the family members rendering assistance to the inevitable funeral around the corner. OML was born as an ecumenical congregation between Protestants and Catholics. The earlier services were conducted jointly, at All Saints Church, Forest Gate by Rev Settimba and Father Musala.

OML community has been fortunate to have dedicated members of ‘our own’ who are willing to serve in a voluntary capacity. Some are conversant or knowledgeable and are insistent to follow, to the letter, the statutory requirements and expectations of voluntary community organisations. These invariably include registration with regulatory bodies, regular elections, holding and attendance of committee meetings, accountability and transparency, to mention but a few. The main strength of OML has been our ability to organize ourselves as a congregation. We have a fully functional Committee elected by the members on the electoral roll every year and have had many dedicated committee members who take responsibility for specific tasks. We have a constitution and registered as a charity with the Charity Commission in June 2005. We are subjected to the requirements of the Charities Act. The BMO gives us additional recognition and sets additional standards for us to follow.

Luganda speaking priests have voluntarily come to serve in their capacity as priests and only unwillingly left when it was necessary to develop themselves elsewhere. Among those who have been part of our journey to date are Rev Amos Kasibante and Rev Nathan Ntege.  The need to serve the community in a pastoral capacity has been taken seriously by both gender. To date two lady members of our congregation Mrs. Esther Kawooya and Mrs. Ida Serunjogi have undertaken training and they are now serving members of St John’s Church pastoral stewardship.

The signing of The Bishop’s Mission Order was a significant event in the history of our community. Rev Dr Godfrey Kaziro was licensed by the Bishop of Southwark to lead OML as a church within the Church of England under the supervision of the Archdeacon of Lambeth. This set the regularisation of the relationship between St Johns’ Church and OML. Services will continue to be held at St. John’s Church Waterloo on the first Sunday of the month and they will be lead or organised by Rev Dr Godfrey Kaziro and his pastoral team.

The dedication of Dr. Kaziro to the community is commendable. Although he was already a qualified doctor, he undertook pastoral training to serve our community. Now he is serving as an ordained priest in a non-stipendiary capacity. We are grateful for his services as indeed for his contribution, commitment and dedication to the Good Lord’s work.

We are proud to be part of a cohesive and inclusive community who support interfaith worship and share with our Ugandan brethren, the Roman Catholics, Seventhday Adventists, Pentecostals and Islam community.

Contributors to the article – Dr Serwano Godfrey Galiwango Sekwayama and Timothy Musajjakawa

Contact Information: 
Okusinza mu Luganda
Rev Godfrey Kaziro – 07835 497 952
Timothy Musajjakawa 07951 026 247
Dorothy Mukasa 0798 466 9686 

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