Ugandan diocesan schism turns violent


Four members of the Church of Uganda’s diocese of Kumi appeared before a court today charged with assaulting a priest of the rival Reformed Anglican Church.

The four men were alleged to have driven in a diocesan-owned truck to the home of the Rev. Sam Osire in Ajeluk village, Mukura during the early hours of Sunday morning, 19 March 2023. Dan Okiror, Sam Okello, Emmanuel Opade, and John Oba assaulted Mr. Osire and his wife. They then bundled them into the back of the truck and drove to a Ngora Central Police Station with their prisoners. At the police station, the four were arrested for assault, trespass and kidnapping. A hearing has been scheduled for 27 March.

Police are investigating the attack, which left Mr. Osire with a head wound requiring hospitalization, seeking a motive for the attack. Ugandan newspaper reports of the incident state the attackers first asked Mr. Osire to pray for them before they assaulted him. Mr. Osire declined to pray for them as he thought they were mentally disturbed.

In 2020 Mr. Osire quit the diocese of Kumi after the Church of Uganda House of Bishops after it declined to consecrate the Rev. Charles Okunya as the diocese’s new bishop. Mr. Okunya’s election was rejected after the bishops determined he had submitted forged identity documents that showed he was over 45 years of age – the canonical minimum for episcopal ordination in Uganda.

After his election was rejected, Mr. Okunya joined the Reformed Anglican Church, which had been formed in 2017 by a former Church of Uganda archdeacon of Rwenzori. He was consecrated last June as its first bishop of the Upper Nile. 

Disputes over church properties followed the split between Bishop Okunya and his supporters and the Church of Uganda. Police spokesman Oscar Ageca told reporters police were investigating the affair.  “We would like to remind Christians of The Church of Uganda-Kumi Diocese and Reformed Anglicans that Uganda is a country of religious tolerance,” he said.