President Yoweri Museveni has in his rare spiritual centred statements expressed concern over the growing number of Pentecostal believers in Uganda, try querying the relationship between their beliefs and those of the Anglican Christians.
The President put the rhetorical question to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali and other believers in the Anglican faith on Sunday afternoon during the consecration of the new Bishop of West Ankole diocese, order the Rt. Rev. Johnson Twinomujuni.
Twinomujuni who was elected as the Bishop of the previously wrangle striken diocese whose problems emanated from former Archbishop Yona Katoneene’s tenure, was formally inducted at a colorful ceremony held at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Bweranyangyi in Bushenyi district. President Museveni presided over as chief guest.
“This morning, I was opening a new church in Sembabule. I understand it is a Pentecostal church but then, I was surprised that their style of worship is similar to ours (Anglicans). And most of these people were my relatives,” President Museveni told the congregation while delivering his remarks.
He went on to say; “Since religious issues are beyond my docket, I kept it to myself hoping to ask the Archbishop what relationship these Pentecostals have with Anglicans.”
In the last decade, Pentecostal churches often known as ‘balokole’ have sprouted at a rapid rate across Uganda with much concentration in urban areas.
Historically, the Pentecostal faith in Uganda dates to 1960 when Naguru Katale Full Gospel church was established by Canadian Pentecostal missionaries in Kampala. This would come to be the pioneer Pentecostal church in Uganda.
Twenty four years later, in 1984, Kampala Pentecostal Church (KPC) now Watoto also set up its first church in Kampala.
It is the aggressive and relentless spirit of prayer and worship that has gradually drawn scores of Ugandans to Pentecostal churches over the years.
Majority of these believers are fished from the mainstream Christian faith (Anglicans and Catholics).
“I see them as our people (Christians), because I noticed their preaching and worship is similar to ours. But then, they call themselves ‘Balokole’. I want to understand this relationship because their numbers keep multiplying,” the President further questioned, in a seemingly concerned tone.
Citing the recent Uganda population census reports, Museveni intimated; “As you know, I keep track of the numbers in our population figures. The last three censuses have shown that they (Pentecostals) are increasing.”
The most recent census (2014) placed the number of Pentecostal believers in Uganda at 3.7 million people representing 11.1% of the total population. The number grew by 6.4% in 12 years since the 2002 census.
Some have attributed the popularity of Pentecostal faith in Uganda to the stagnation of the Anglican approach to spreading the gospel and especially its failure to appeal to the young folk.
Many of the young people are easily persuaded by the entertainment that characterizes Pentecostal activities along with it’s relatively flexible approach.
Last month, during the launch of the 10 year strategic plan for Church of Uganda, President Museveni said the church had lost the ‘fire’ it possessed when evangelism was introduced in Uganda. He said it (the church) was “facing an erosion of morals and integrity.”