Rev. Charles Okunya Oode, the former priest of Kumi Diocese has been elected founder Bishop of the Reformed Anglican Church of the Upper Nile Diocese.
The election of Rev. Okunya was announced in the letter signed by the Archbishop of the Reformed Anglican Church, the Most Reverend Prof. Jonathan Kyangasha. He said that Rev. Okunya was elected in the secret consistory on Thursday by the College of Bishops.
The letter notes that Rev. Okunya will be consecrated on Sunday, June 26 at the Reformed Anglican Church in Kumi Town Council.
“I request all the faithful of the Lord to pray for him as he prepares for this higher ministerial calling”, the letter concludes.
Rev. Okunya, who was initially elected as the second Bishop of Kumi Diocese in 2019 was not consecrated following the petition by a section of Christians. He was first accused of infidelity before the age alterations came in, which grounds he was denied to ascend to the highest office of the Diocese.
However, a number of Christians and clergy were not satisfied by the decision of the House of Bishops that was communicated by the then Archbishop of the Province of Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali. As a result, Kumi diocese degenerated into a battlefield as supporters of Rev. Okunya protested. This led to the arrests of both the clergy and Christians across the Diocese.
Rev. Okunya’s conflict with the Church escalated in January when a group of his supporters attempted to consecrate him by force. But the plan was foiled by the police who arrested 51 people from Kumi, Ngora, and Bukedea districts that constitute Kumi Diocese.
This was followed by the announcement and the subsequent consecration and enthronement of Rev. Michael Okwii Esakan as the new bishop of Kumi Diocese.
A month after, Rev. Okunya announced his exit from the Church of Uganda. He was unveiled as the caretaker leader of the Upper Nile Diocese that comprises Teso, Karamoja, Lango, and Acholi sub-regions.
Prof. Kyangasha, while launching the Church in Kumi on April 24, indicated that the college of Bishops would be sitting to elect the bishop for Upper Nile Diocese.
Rev. Okunya has since moved with a section of clergymen and lay readers whom Bishop Esakan has ordered to hand over offices.
Okunya, at the beginning of the conflict, controlled six out of 10 archdeacons of Kumi diocese.
It’s not clear whether all his supporters would be joining the new Church.