Rt. Rev. Dr. Stanley Ntagali, the outgoing Archbishop of the Church of Uganda says he is happy to being handing over the baton to his successor Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu to steer the church. In an exclusive interview with The Sunrise’ Henry Lutaaya, Dr. Ntagali says he is happy with what he has been able to accomplish during the 8 years he has served in the position. He notes however that greed among Christians, remains the biggest challenge for the church. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Qn. Congratulations on successfully steering the church over the past 8 years. Give us a highlight of your achievements during your term?
First of all I want to thank God who called me to be a pastor and servant in his church, because to me, this was the beginning of my work. I don’t only consider the time I’ve been the archbishop, I consider all the tough assignments from way back as a period of my preparation. I started the church in my early years in 1975, at the age of 20, as a catechist, which is the lowest cadre in the Church of Uganda.
I spent some of my early years doing missionary work in Karamoja. I went there with two other young colleagues to do missionary work between 1977 through to ’86. It was a teaching experience, because there were cattle rustlers, the guns were all over the place. To me, that was a land mark achievement in my life and my ministry because it helped me become more focused on serving my lord and to know that when God calls on you, he sustains you, blesses you and protects you. That special anointing that I got from Karamoja has remained with me. I was being proffered for this great office.
When I came back, I went back to my home diocese of Hoima. I served as the Vicar of the cathedral, then I went to Kenya for my under graduate. When I graduated with a Bachelors degree, I was made the archdeacon of Masindi, within the same diocese of Hoima. Because of my fluency in swahili, I found it easy to minister in Masindi because the community of Masindi is diverse and many people there speak swahili. So my wife and I were ministering in swahili.
After that, I went back to school for my Masters degree in Theology and Development at the University of Oxford. When I graduated, I became the diocesan secretary in Hoima for two and half years. After that I was selected as the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda.
During this assignment, I was blessed to work with the late Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo. Then I ushered in the new Archbishop Dr. Henry Luke Orombi. Then God called me to be the founding Bishop of Masindi Kitara in 2004, where I had worked as the Archdeacon. By God’s grace, I knew I was going to work in Masindi for 15 years and retire. But after 8 years, God called me to be the 8th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda.
On 16th December 2012, I was consecrated as the 8th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. I started preaching the Gospel, to start organising the church to continue being vibrant.
What God has done, using me as a tool, has been a blessing to me personally and my family and ministry. My wife Beatrice Ntagali Nalongo, has supported me greatly and our children. I have been a team leader. My brother Bishops, the clergy, the laity, political leaders, civic leaders, the business community, have all supported me to continue in singing the gospel of Jesus Christ, telling people that we live in a world that is transitory, that is ending. So when we get our minds focused on the Lord, who is the head of the church, then he blesses us, our families and as a nation.
So preaching the gospel has been my first priority. But also God has given us a vibrant rich church, through human resources, good weather and natural resources.
We’ve made the first-ever 10-year strategic Masterplan from 2016 to 2025. And it sets our priorities correct so that we follow what we want to do in a systematic manner until 2025 in a self-sustaining and vibrant manner.
Qn. What are some of the pillars of sustainability?
1). Discipleship and evangelism.
You know there are people who are Christians but they are Christians by name. So they need to be grounded in their faith. So we’ve focused on the children and the youth by giving them the right messages to stand up against the flow of negative information of indoctrination especially from abroad.
2). Giving protection to our children has been my focus.
Children are a gift from God and championing their rights has been my passion.
3). Focus on youth
We’ve made the youth, who are the majority in this country, another focus of our attention. Many young people are misled. They are at cross roads. We have to keep them belonging to the church in the service of the Lord.
This is the main pillar of the church. We live in a changing world. There are liberals coming from the west telling us funny things, changing the teachings of the bible. We want to remain focused on teaching the truth of the bible, the authority of scripture, and the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic faith that we follow.
Qn. Your successor has become popular as a champion of business evangelism. How does this fit into the strategic plan?
Our God is a God of business, because he created man and gave him the mandate to explore creation.
What my successor has been doing in Mityana is what the church is supposed to do. When God created Adam and Eve, to be his representatives, to be stewards in the world, to manage the environment, it means that God is the God of business. That is what the strategic plan is about so that we preach the gospel and change people’s hearts, then their bank accounts will be converted.
So we encourage all our dioceses and parishes to start projects that will generate money for the church. That is why opposite Bank of Uganda on Kampala road, we have a 16-storey Janan Luwum Church House. That is business. I am so humbled that it has been completed during my time.
Also, Namugongo Martyrs Shrine was a disgrace to the church.
While our neighbours the Catholics had developed their place, ours was underdeveloped. When we built that significant Namugongo Martyrs museum, it was not not only meant for pilgrims, it was meant for international tourists – which has Mukajanga’s command post, the hang tree, the place where martyrs were burnt and burried. That it phase one. In phase two we plan to have hotels, we shall have library. So we’re doing business.
I am so happy to have Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, who is a Godly man, as my successor. I pray for him and his wife Mama Margaret to continue to take the church to greater heights by preaching the same gospel of transformation.
So when we transform the communities where we serve, then nation of Uganda, and we teach them to be good stewards and avoid greed and selfishness that gives birth to corruption, then we are teaching them business and the gospel of transformation.
Qn. How big is the challenge of corruption to the Church as part of Ugandan society?
It is a big challenge for us as the church because the church is not buildings, but is comprised of men and women. So when the parishioners come to church, they may look saintly, but when they return to their places of work and engage misuse public money, that is stealing, that is sin. You have heard me condemn corruption several times.
When God gave us that ability to govern the whole of creation, we’re first and foremost accountable to God. But when you lose that sense of accountability to God and instead you want to accumulate wealth through wrong means, then you face judgement.
But corruption is a common problem that we must fight collectively. It is a challenge for all Ugandans and the entire church. The challenge is we don’t speak with one voice. But the church will maintain her prophetic voice, preach against greed which is the mother of corruption.
There is nothing as beautiful as building a house from money you have saved. We need to pray for the corrupt men and women in this country to repent. We have a lot of resources in this country but much of it is misappropriated and that is stealing public money.
Qn. It was reported that you helped to secure the ownership of Mengo Hospital as an institution of Church of Uganda. Please explain, how did this happen?
Whereas the hospital is church-founded on Namirembe hill, it was being managed as a private hospital. When I came in, I worked closely with the Board and stakeholders to reverse the ownership of the hospital. Because I asked who owns Mengo hospital, the answer was not clear.
So we change the constitution so that Mengo hospital is the hospital of Church of Uganda. Identity was the issue. It is not a business, it is a service providing institution of the Church. Out of this, I was happy, as the Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU) to moderate the discussion to have Mengo hospital as the teaching hospital of UCU School of medicine. So that has promoted the profile of the hospital, the profile of UCU, and Church of Uganda profile. We shall soon have our second intake and I am very happy about this.
Qn. Lastly, how are you going to spend your retirement?
I am going to be happy to do my own things; look after cows and continue with ministry. Because for us clergy, we only retire from full time office work but not from preaching the gospel. So I will be in Kikube district, near the oil wells and near Hoima international airport. So I will be happy to witness the developments taking place around the mushrooming oil sector.