Yesterday Friday February 16, thousands of believers from different walks of life marked 41 years since the execution of the Late Dr. Janan Luwum – the second African Archbishop of the Province of the Church of Uganda (including Burundi and Zaire). Since 2015, the government of Uganda designated the day as a public holiday in memory of the sacrifices of the late Luwum. Once again, this year, hundreds held prayers at his ancestral home in Wi Gweng Village Mucwini Sub County in Kitgum district.
Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng, of Northern Uganda Diocese was among those present for a prayer session for Saint Luwum who was murdered around February 5, 1977. Although the official account describes a car crash, it is generally accepted that he was murdered on the orders of then-President Idi Amin in Nakasero Kampala following a period of great tension and ugly showdown with the regime.
Bishop Onono gave a testimony this week in Memory of the Saint, saying he feels the church should unite as they remember his great legacy.
Bishop Onono told our reporter that the life of servant-hood and good leadership that the saint had should be emulated by the preachers of today.
He blames preachers for delivering messages against each other in their congregations, deviating from the truth of the gospel.
“I thought maybe the many churches were pulling out of Church of Uganda but I understand that the Catholics are also starting these churches. Sometimes you don’t understand why they start a church to preach about Onono Onweng, about Christ Church, about St. Phillip. They call us the traditional churches.”
He notes that such churches are dead because the work of God is not limited by human understanding.
“If you are starting a church which is not against Christ, go ahead. But the moment you start preaching against another church you are going against Christ. Even the pastors, they fight a lot among themselves.”
The Bishop suggest that every home should have a pastor to prevent fights in churches.
“If every home can have a pastor, I will be very happy particularly in Acholi here, where everybody will be saved without preaching one another. We know that in the church, there is no money, no salary, once you join, you know it.”
Bishop Onono castigated leaders who begin the church and go against others to win more followers for their personal benefits.
Last week, a candle ensured between believers in the Catholics and Anglicans when a preacher allegedly burnt rosaries during a crusade organized by the body of Christ in Gulu.
St. Janani Luwum is celebrated for harmonizing Christians and standing for the truth to the point of death.
After his assassination, his body was taken to the church yard at Wii-gweng, Mucwini, on 19 February 1977, where he was later buried. He is survived by his widow, Mary Luwum, seven children, four sisters, two brothers and several grandchildren.
Elizabeth Akot, one of the four sisters to St Janani Luwum told our reporter that her brother was the most peaceful and humble member of the family who cared for everyone and smiled easily with all.
Archbishop Janani Luwum was the first sitting Archbishop in the entire Anglican Communion to be murdered while in office, since the deaths of the Archbishops of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer and William Laud, who were martyred in 1556 AD and 1645 AD respectively.
In his book Archbishop Janani Luwum: the life and witness of a 20th century martyr, former UN Under-Secretary General and the President of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), Dr Olara Otunnu, wrote that: “St Janani was very committed to his prophetic mission as a spiritual and religious leader – to defend the people, to expose evil, to call for justice and human rights. In those most trying times, he chose the path of speaking truth to power.”