Ugandan bishops uphold guidelines on creating new dioceses

New jurisdictions must be self-supporting and not weaken existing structures by their formation.

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Bishops from the central region of the Church of Uganda have reaffirmed the national church’s guidelines for creating new dioceses, declining to receive a petition from lay and clergy members of the Lyantonde archdeaconry of the Diocese of West Buganda to divide the diocese.

At their four day retreat last month in Lyantonde, active and retired bishops from the central region of the Church of Uganda (the dioceses of West Buganda, Central Buganda, Mityana, Luweero, Mukono and Namirembe) did not take up the issue of dividing West Buganda, as last year’s full meeting of the House of Bishops established a temporary moratorium on the creation of new dioceses.

The Ugandan House of Bishops last year approved the creation of the dioceses East Busoga and West Ruwenzori, but have been cautious in creating further dioceses. Tribal, language and geographic considerations have driven calls in some parts of the country for new dioceses, but the bishops have agreed for the need for new jurisdictions to be self-supporting.

Sources in the Church of Uganda told AI the church had adopted a conservative stance on creating new jurisdictions. While the bishops were mindful of the need to recognize ethnic, language and geographic issues, these could not be allowed to trump the Church of Uganda’s need for each diocese to support itself.

The petition had sought to divide the diocese with the archdeaconries of Lyantonde, Kinuka, Kashagama, Katovu, Kyazanga, Kacheera, Lwamaggwa and Sembabule, forming a new jurisdiction.

However, on 16 March 2019 the Bishop of West Buganda, the Rt. Rev. Henry Tamale told Kampala’s Daily Monitor: “Christians have a right to request for a diocese if they are ready to support it, but we ask Christians of Lyantonde archdeaconry to halt their bid for a diocese and allow the church leadership to strengthen existing dioceses first.”