By Irene Best Nyapendi
Over 60 Uganda Christian University (UCU) Students of theology has toured various locations for purposes of appreciation of church history and general spiritual enlightenment. First, they went to St Paul’s Cathedral, then the Provincial Office C.O.U, after that, the Archbishop’s Palace in Namirembe; and finally, the Namugongo Martyrs sites-Anglican Church of Uganda. They were thrilled at the wealth of history that the church has preserved for several decades.
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About the UCU study tour
The study tour was organized by the church relation office of UCU and school of theology.
By sightseeing historic sites, attending service at St. Paul cathedral, visiting the archbishop’s palace, partaking in other learning activities, the students experienced the church history of Uganda.
Rev Canon Amos Turyahabwe, the Head of Pastoral and Practical Studies, stated that they organized this study tour to offer its students a better and practical vision of the church history.
“We saw that it’s not enough for us to only give the students theory so we organized a study tour to give our students exposure of the church history, to know where the headquarters are, where the first diocese was, to see and hear what the martyrs went through,” Turyahabwe said.
He adds that it was vital for the students to physically see some of the things that they learn in class to enhance their understanding.
While at St. Paul Cathedral Namirembe, which is the oldest and biggest chapel in Uganda, the students saw where the bishops sit, the grave of Bishop James Hannington.
Hannington was meant to be the first Bishop of C.O.U unfortunately he was murdered on his way to Uganda hence Bishop Alfred Tucker became the first bishop of C.O.U.
The students were also exposed to tour around the head offices of the Anglican Church, where they learnt that the term of service for the bishops is 10 years.
At the province they met UCU Alumni Andrew Agawa who is currently the Director of Households and community transformation.
Agawa appreciated the university team for organizing such a study tour because many individuals would love to have it but they cannot access it.
“As theologians it is good for you to have this because many people have never had this opportunity, because when they come in here as individuals chances are low that they can be given access to these places,” Agawa said.
Agawa went ahead to introduce some of the province leaders to the students as they got to learn more about church management and leadership.
The students also had time to visit the Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu’s palace in Namirembe where they were happily welcomed by his wife, Margaret Naggayi Bulya. Together with the students they sung the famous song “Tumutendereze Yesu”.
She appreciated the students for answering Gods call upon their life and cautioned them not to carry themselves into ministry but to do it in response to God’s call.
“Thank you for answering God’s call upon your life because when God calls you, he will sustain you because while here you are standing in the feet of God,” she said.
She urged the students to let Jesus have the lead in their life and prayed a blessing upon their life.
“May you leave UCU and go and serve and not focus on wealth or positions because when you do well, God takes you to greater heights because God loves humble steadfast people,” Naggayi prayed for the students.
The students reaped from the study tour, one way or another, from the journey which enhanced their intellectual and academic knowledge on the church history.
According to some of the students, the study tour encouraged them to know that the things they are reading about isn’t just theoretical but they are real things.
The study tour also encourages the students to believe more as they are prepared for ministry.
Theology Students share their study tour experience
Ronald Makoba pursuing a masters of Divinity, narrates that it has been a great experience for him looking at the history of C.O.U through the portraits at the site.
“In class we take notes, talk about the church history in Uganda but I had never seen these places, so visiting these historical places like Namirembe gave me exposure and it was an eye opener ,” Makoba said
Makoba was ignited by the mark that has been left by the martyrs which taught him that despite persecution the gospel of Christ must be proclaimed.
“I’ve been touched looking at those martyrs, it paints a picture to us to be practical and I also saw the importance for us to lay foundations for others,” Makoba said.
Margret Nakalena pursuing a masters in Divinity says it was an experience of enlightenment for her to understand the administrative structure of the church.
“It’s been a wonderful experience physically seeing what we have been taught in class so now when we go back to class the discussions won’t only be from text but our mind will flash back to what we saw and heard today,” Nakalena said.
She explains that she is now able to know where each church is set and also learnt that it’s at the province that the important decisions in the dioceses are made.
“I also learnt that St. Paul Cathedral, Namirembe is of great significance to both Buganda and the government,” she added.
During this study tour, Stella Betty Abarob, pursuing a masters in Theology, had the opportunity to learn about the founders of the church and the historical background of the church.
This gave Abarob an opportunity to appreciate the fact that C.O.U has a great foundation that helps to strengthen our faith.“ It was my first time touring these historical places and the experience has been transformational. I have really enjoyed this tour each of the places we went to, I had something to learn,” Abarob said.
Rev. Richard Mulindwa, Ag. Manager of the UCU Church Relations office, says that the rationale for this study tour was for the students to know the history of the C.O.U, and to know the women and men who highly sacrificed for the faith they are enjoying.
“We think this has been a source of great exposure for our theology students as they venture into other key places in C.O.U so when it comes to the time of their training they will be grounded and will have the history of where we have come from,” Mulindwa said.
He adds that the study tour is part of the students training and formation, because other than the formation in classes this is the formation in the sense of practicum.