By Irene Best Nyapendi
The Church of Uganda is celebrating two milestones. The double commemoration is about East Busoga, Uganda’s newest diocese, which was inaugurated on November 19, 2023, and, the same event, the consecration of Rt. Rev. Paul Hannington Suubi and his enthronment as its first bishop. East Busoga became the country’s 39th diocese of the Anglican Church after approval by the provincial assembly in August 2022.
His Grace, the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda and Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU), blessed the twin celebration at Stephen’s Cathedral in eastern Uganda’s Bugiri district. The event was marked under the theme: To proclaim the gospel in accordance with Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations.
“I, Stephen, by divine permission, Archbishop of Church of Uganda, do now declare that East Busoga has been duly inaugurated as the 39th diocese in the province of the Church of Uganda with its headquarters at St. Stephen’s Bugiri, in the name of God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit,” Kaziimba declared.
Kaziimba consecrated Suubi and urged him to heed to reading the Bible, exhortation and doctrine.
“Think upon the things contained in this book,” he counseled. “Be diligent in them that the increase coming thereby may be manifest unto all people.”
The archbishop asked Suubi to take good care of the flock.
“Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, and devour them not,” Kaziimba said. “Hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken and be so merciful, that you be not too remiss, minister discipline that you forget not mercy; that when the chief shepherd shall appear you may receive the never fading crown of glory.”
He dedicated the new cathedral and presented to Suubi the episcopal staff, which he said was of big significance in pastoral duties.
During the service, Suubi took an oath of true and canonical obedience to the archbishop and declared his commitment to uphold the constitution of the Church of Uganda. He affirmed his readiness to resign if requested by a two-thirds majority of diocesan bishops. He pledged utmost dedication to the responsibilities entrusted to him.
“I, Paul Hannington Suubi, swear that I will pay true and canonical obedience to the archbishop of the church of the province of Uganda, in all things lawful and honest. So, help me God,” Suubi vowed.
He promised to respect, maintain and defend the rights of the church and diocese, serving with truth, justice and charity. He committed to observing the diocesan provisions and summoning the Synod at regular intervals
Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice-Chancellor of UCU and former classmate of Suubi, congratulated him on his elevation to the bishopric. Reflecting on their shared school days, Mushengyezi remarked that Suubi’s leadership qualities were evident even then during their early school days, making his appointment no surprise.
“As someone who went to school with you, I am particularly very thrilled to see God elevate you to such a high calling to shepherd his people,” Mushengyezi said.
UCU pledged continued commitment in training clergy of the diocese on scholarship.
On behalf of UCU, Mushengyezi gifted Suubi with UGX 1,000,000 (about $265) and an iPad Pro for his work.
Suubi said as bishop, his focus areas will be: evangelism and discipleship; family, youth and children’s ministry; education (schools and colleges); environment management; and development, health and human resource.
“We shall develop a diocesan staff development policy to guide us in evolving a God-fearing, competent, well-motivated and professional human resource,” Suubi said.
He also noted that as a diocese, they will carefully select young educated youth for theological training to become clergy in order to address the demand.
The bishop said he was concerned about the Church of Uganda educational institutions whose standards are wanting due to high teacher-pupil ratios, lack of furniture and space.
As a way of addressing staffing and scholastic needs at the church schools in eastern Uganda, Suubi pledged to work with the authorities to “strengthen the management and administration of our schools and colleges, sensitize parents and guardians about their roles and responsibilities.”
Suubi holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Divinity from Makerere University and a Diploma in Education. He also attained certificates in leadership and public administration and management from Makerere University and Haggai Institute, Singapore.
He has been married to Margret Stella for close to 29 years. Together, they have three children.