By Irene Best Nyapendi
Every last Sunday of September, Anglican churches in Uganda commemorate a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Sunday (UCU Sunday). UCU Sunday was established in 2017 by the Church of Uganda Bishops with three objectives: to pray for UCU; to mobilize financial resources to support UCU projects, especially infrastructure; and to raise awareness about the university. This tradition spans across Uganda, with every Church of Uganda participating.
On Sept. 24, 2023, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU Vice Chancellor, prayed at All Saints Cathedral Kampala and thanked the congregation for supporting the university.
“We would like to join you to thank God for our provincial university — your prayers and unwavering support have brought forth miraculous transformations at UCU,” Prof. Mushengyezi said.
Prof. Mushengyezi reaffirmed the university’s role to continue training clergy for the Church of Uganda. Every year, the university admits two students from each diocese in the country and sponsors their theological training.
“We also sponsor children of clergy who are struggling to pay tuition fees,” he said. “In 2022, we supported 22 students. Above all, we thank God that we have continued operating. And God is with us.”
This year’s UCU Sunday was themed “United for service and growth in Christ.” The amount raised in 2023 should be known by late November.
UCU’s Church Relations Manager, Rev. Richard Mulindwa, introduced four strategic focus areas: scholarship schemes for clergy children; scholarships for the clergy; continuous training for the clergy; and infrastructure development, namely construction of the ordinands’ apartments. An ordinand is a person training to be a priest or church minister. The ordinands’ apartments will accommodate over 50 theology students at the university.
Rev. Mulindwa said as of last year, about sh400 million (about $113,000) had been fundraised for the ordinand apartment project’s estimated need of sh8.5billion (over $2.2million).
“Once the necessary funds are secured, construction will commence, further facilitating the university’s expansion,” Rev. Mulindwa said.
The Vicar of Saint Paul’s cathedral Namirembe Cathedral, Rev. Abraham Nsubuga Muyinda, urged church members to donate generously to UCU.
“We have to put our hands together and support our own university as we see it go to greater heights and continue to excel because it is the Centre of Excellence in the Heart of Africa,” he said.
He said UCU couldn’t be a great university unless Christians collectively contributed funds and supported it as the Lord guided them. He emphasized that supporting the institution was crucial as many religious leaders, such as him, have been shaped by the university.
The UCU chaplain, Rev. Canon Eng. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro, preached at Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe in Kampala. He highlighted the divine calling and need for equipping leaders in the church and discouraged competition among them. He instead encouraged participation in ministry.
“It is important for us to know that our unity comes from our identity,” he said. “We are one in Christ and so our attitude towards believers should be that of unity.”
Rev. Canon Ssembiro told the Christians that their generous giving bore fruits during the July graduation where of 1,006 graduates, 45 were pioneer students of medicine and nine from dentistry. The buildings established for the schools of medicine and dentistry were made possible by sh300 million (about $79,275) that was collected on the 2018 UCU Sunday.
“On behalf of UCU, I thank you for your generosity over the years,” Rev. Ssembiro said. “It is through it that we have the UCU schools of medicine and dentistry, and it was our joy to see our pioneer students graduate this year in July.”
Martha Kobusinge and Moses Isebo, Christians at Namirembe Cathedral, expressed appreciation for the UCU Sunday information that educates those who aren’t affiliated with UCU.
“It’s through such days that we get to know what happens at UCU, the programs offered and the developments there,” Kobusinge said.
“I give to UCU as a service to God because it’s founded by the Church of Uganda,” Isebo said. .