Recall the atmosphere at the Oval, or in Trafalgar Square, when England won the Ashes in September. The same atmosphere pervaded an area the size of a couple of football pitches as 7000 people filled the grounds of an unfinished cathedral to sing and dance to drums and trumpets on Sunday November 27. During a 5 hour ceremony followed by lunch for everyone Archbishop Henry Orombi consecrated Joel Obetia (48) as Bishop of the Diocese of Madi / West Nile and Prebendary Sandy Millar (65) as Bishop of the Church of Uganda to serve as Assistant Bishop for Mission in the Diocese of London.
The consecrations took place in Arua, a town of 60,000 in North West Uganda near the borders with Sudan and the Congo. The diocese, with 800 churches and 200 clergy in a population nearing 2 million, is also a springboard for mission in those countries and has been a haven for refugees.
Less than 130 years ago bishops were consecrated for mission in Uganda in London where the gospel has been preached for 1300 years. Now, in Arua, where the gospel has been preached for 80 years, a bishop has been consecrated for mission in London. Had it taken place in London, it would not have been as much fun, nor attended by 1000 children.
Archbishop Orombi stressed that the Archbishop of Canterbury had requested him to appoint and consecrate Sandy Millar in August 2004. “This consecration puts the Church of Uganda on the Global Christian map” he said, adding that he would be attending the enthronement of a Ugandan, Bishop John Sentamu, as Archbishop of York later in the week. Archbishop Orombi and Bishop Sandy Millar have been friends and colleagues for over 25 years since Henry and Phoebe Orombi and their family came to England for study at St John’s Nottingham supported by Holy Trinity Brompton.
“The Anglican Church is going through a sickness period. The Global South is offering treatment by remaining faithful” said the Archbishop. Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa of Bunyoro-Kitara reminded the bishops in his sermon that they have a message to deliver. He asked whether the Ugandan church should keep quiet when the monster sin (of homosexual practice) emerges when we have polygamy and corruption. “We equally condemn them all. Our arguments are brushed off as simplistic and uneducated. When we do right we are educated, when we do not we are uneducated.” He noted that the new Bishop of Madi/ West Nile was a Ph.D holder. (Almost. Success in his viva in early 2006 will bring the number of Ph.D’s among 31 Ugandan bishops to 4. 6 out of the 43 English Diocesans hold earned doctorates).