Features

Ripe for Evangelism: Uganda Mennonite Church is growing

Okoth Simon Onyanga and Ed Gross of the United States pray for healing of the sick during a special conference at a peri-urban Uganda Mennonite Congregation. Photo: Okoth Simon Onyanga
Release date: 
Wednesday, 6 March 2019

“Uganda is ripe for evangelism and the church is growing,” says bishop Okoth Simon Onyango, national coordinator of Mennonite Church Uganda. The new Mennonite World Conference member church currently reports 553 members in 18 congregations. Accepted by the Executive Committee in 2017, Mennonite Church Uganda has more than doubled the number of congregations reported in the 2015 MWC directory (7).  

Some members sit on the floor at a Uganda Mennonite Church congregation which lacks the finances to purchase chairs. Photo: Okoth Simon OnyangaCongregations in Uganda Mennonite Church are springing up both in the capital city Kampala, and in peri-urban areas (the hinterlands outside cities).

Bishop Moses Otiento of Kenya Mennonite Church was inspired to plant churches in Uganda. Otiento supported mission efforts to Uganda, and John Otiento worked with local leaders in Uganda in 2004 to plant four churches that officially registered in 2006.

Growing greatly in number, Uganda Mennonite Church congregations face many challenges: buildings barely covered by a roof; lack of chairs for church members to sit on during services, pastors who have no formal training and sometimes no paycheque.

Mennonite Central Committee has served in Uganda since 1979, initially with war-reconstruction efforts; now with peace and reconciliation work.

Youth from Uganda have served in Mennonite World Conference and MCC’s exchange program YAMEN, learning about the global church by serving in a different part of the world.

Worship at a congregation of Uganda Mennonite Church. Photo: Okoth Simon OnyangaThe English-speaking East African country on the northern edge of Lake Victoria borders Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Some 45 percent of the nearly 40,000, 000 Ugandans identify as Protestant, 40 percent as Roman Catholic, and more than 10 percent as Muslim. Uganda struggles with a high number of deaths from HIV/AIDS and with large numbers of refugees fleeing neighbouring countries.

“The Mennonite Church Uganda is quite happy and honoured to be member of the global family of the MWC,” says Okoth. “Our prayer is that God will identify us partner churches or individuals to stand with us in some of our voluminous challenges. May God sustain us together.”

a Mennonite World Conference release by Karla Braun

 

This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier October 2018.