The biggest, oldest and most powerful umbrella fraternity of Balokole (Pentecostal fraternity) Christian ministries in Uganda is set to elect a new national leader today, Thursday March 16th 2023, to replace Bishop Joshua Lwere who has led the association for the last ten years.
The National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches (NFBPC), which brings together more than 30,000 Pentecostal churches and para-church organizations from across Uganda, will go to the polls at the Lugogo Indoor Sports Complex starting this Thursday morning at 10am.
Over 1,000 Balokole leaders from across the country are gathering in Lugogo to comprise the NFBPC national Electoral College which elects the organization’s top leadership every after five years. The NFBPC national Electoral College comprises the five district council members of every one of the 200 districts into which NFBPC is divided, as well as the five provincial council members of every one of the thirty-five provinces of NFBPC.
As the Balokole go to the polls, however, the issue of Bisiyaga has taken a centre stage as the biggest issue among the things they are discussing on the way to the polls, and the issue looks set to go a long way in determining the outcome of the election. This is not only because the NFBPC election comes at a time when the issue of LGBTQI has brewed a controversy that’s raging over the country like a wild fire, with Parliament discussing the enactment of a new stringent law outlawing all manner of same-sex relations and related queer sexual behavior.
But also, because historically, the Pentecostal church in Uganda has arguably been embroiled in the vice, sags more than any other religious denomination, with some prominent Pentecostal Christian leaders routinely having accusing fingers pointed at them for being practitioners, spreaders and overall champions of practice. The overwhelming favorite for victory is Bishop Michael David Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre Church in Namasuba, who is the famously-disciplinarian preacher. He was, during the nomination process, seconded by more than 75% (150) of the NFBPC districts across the country.
One might know Pr. Kyazze from his hosting and praying for NUP honcho Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) during the recent 2021 presidential campaign season – a bold and courageous feat that catapulted the pastor and his church into the national limelight. Bishop Kyazze is also a seasoned fighter against the reverse drivers` practice in the Ugandan church circles.
Between 2007 and 2010, Pastor Kyazze was, alongside fellow pastors Martin Ssempa and Solomon Male, caught up on one side of the biggest scandal to ever rock the Pentecostal church in Uganda. The three pastors faced a court suit in which Pastor Robert Kayanja charged them with blackmailing his name with sodomy charges. This was after Pr. Kyazze, Pr. Ssempa and Pastor Male helped a couple of youthful and young men to file cases with the police charging Pastor Kayanja with committing sodomy acts against them, and the saga found its way into the media.
There are four other contenders in the race for General Overseer of NFBPC. But of them all, the main rival of Pastor Kyazze is Bishop Richard Odong of Arise and Shine Worship Centre in Namugongo. And, guess it, Bishop Odong happens to be a protégé of Pastor Robert Kayanja, having been groomed at the Rubaga-based Miracle Centre Cathedral before he founded his own ministry.
Indeed, Bishop Odong has been openly supported (financially and in other ways) by the Miracle Centre Alliance of Churches – a loose association of churches birthed by and/or paying allegiance to Miracle Centre Cathedral and its founder Pastor Kayanja. Apparently, the main bone of contention among the Balokole leaders travelling from across the country to vote today, is what attitude to sodomy world they will be voting whoever candidate they give their vote.
A Bishop from Gulu (on condition of anonymity), has told this publication that for the church leaders who have travelled from Acholi, there is an attitude that Pastor Kyazze is the man needed for the hour in order to have the Pentecostal church boldly proclaim a stand against Bisiyaga, just like the Anglican church has done. On the other hand, Bishop Odong is considered unpronounced on the issue of and some even consider him destined to cover up the vice practitioners which will give them more room to spread in the Pentecostal church.
Another bishop from Rwenzori region says that in his home area, the discussion has over the last few weeks centered on whether the Pentecostal church can take a bold stand and pronounce itself against sodomy and other sexual perversions.
Another bishop from Mbale says that the church leaders from his area who will be voting are sharply divided into two camps, one reckoning they are going to vote against sodomy, and another reckoning that the vice isn’t such a major issue for them to base their choice upon. Other candidates in the race include; Reverend David Ssemazzi of Amazing Grace Christian Assembly, Bishop Joseph Nsubuga of Ambassadors of Encouragement Church and Bishop George Oduch, of Victory Church International, Luzira.
Bishops Odong, Nsubuga and Oduch have been part of outgoing General Overseer Bishop Joshua Lwere’s cabinet, respectively occupying the positions of National Clerk, National Mobilizer and Secretary General. Bishop Ssemazzi has also previously served NFBPC as Secretary General, while Bishop Michael David Kyazze served as Minister of Doctrine and Discipline during Apostle Alex Mitala’s tenure.
Besides voting a new General Overseer, the NFBPC national electoral convention will also appoint a new Treasurer, General Secretary, National Mobilizer and Public Relations Officer to serve alongside the new elected General Overseer over the next five years.
The National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches in Uganda was founded back in 1996, as the leaders of the then largely marginalized and maligned charismatic brand of Christianity sought to join hands to tap into the benefits of unity. Her previous General Overseers include Professor Simeone Kayiwa of Namirembe Christian Fellowship, Dr. Joseph Sserwadda and Apostle Alex Mitala.
According to Balokole leaders and laity, the current election is critical because the Pentecostal church in Uganda apparently finds itself facing increasing internal and external problems of such a magnitude as it has never experienced before, and as such needs very able, reliable and focused leadership that can help it stabilize the ship amidst the fierce tempests.
The main problems bemoaned by Balokole today include sexual immorality, especially homosexuality, mushrooming false teachers and prophets who don’t genuinely serve the gospel cause and thieving inside church corridors in the name of God among other
- Mr. Jacko David Waluluka is another unique entertainment and general investigative news writer, a field he has diligently covered for over fifteen years. He’s also the Chief Administrator at The Investigator. He can easily be reached via [email protected]
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