On any day, the first thing that grips your attention as you come close to the auspices of Kampala’s largest Church in Lugala, is the glamour and splendor that decorates the entire place. You are immediately rushed off your feet, compelled by this urge to scurry in and receive. There’s a God, you’re persuaded and he must be such a generous God – for there’s something to show for it – a breathtaking building, one fondly referred to as “The Dome”.
This is actually the domain of Pastor Imelda Namutebi and the Head Quarters of the infamous Liberty Worship Center. Unveiled in May 2014, the 15, 000 seater complex is currently reputed to be the largest worship center in the region.
The church boasts of a presidential lounge for high profile worshipers like presidents, ministers, and diplomats. It also has space for radio and television stations, among other installments.
The question, however, that continues to disturb the understanding of many Ugandans is if these very affluent Balokole “Shepherds” really care as much for their flock as they do for their own welfare.
In 2003, Pr. Namutebi astounded the nation when she preached against people giving coins in Church while they could be more respectful to God and give banknotes, or write checks, per se.
The flamboyant pastor, because of this, received such widespread criticism from the public, including fellow Pastors who came out to disapprove the untamed teaching, calling it outrageous and irreverent. But this did not cower down the Pastor.
Today, Pastor Imelda Namutebi Kula is known to be one of the wealthiest women in Uganda, a position she’d never pictured herself in a few years ago, when she still worked as a house maid, in the house of her mentor, Pr. Robert Kayanja.
Deceitful Tendencies Of Pastors
Pr. Kayanja, or his protégé, Namutebi are, in fact, not a case in isolation. Pastors, today are stewards of some of the most magnificent worship centers in Uganda.
Many Christians celebrate this as a milestone and a fulfillment of the prophesies where the children of God would reign as kings. But they do rejoice very ignorantly.
What they never fathom is how many of these picturesque compounds and arenas are clandestinely registered under sole ownership of the pastor or his kids.
For after the untimely death of Bishop John Michael Mugerwa of Saints Gate Church in Katwe, in October 2011, the Church automatically fell into the hands of her untaught wife, to whom much of the other Church owned properties were bequeathed, including the once vibrant Destiny Schools in Katende, Mpigi District, whose standards have since slipped into a slump.
Homosexuality For Cash
Homosexuality-in-Church allegations were first heard in 2003 when an American researcher, one, Rochelle Gibler accused Pr. Kayiwa of having made his wealth through sodomy sponsorships. Whereas he was later exonerated by all investigations, it created a precedent that would never be forgotten.
In 2007, Liberty Worship Center’s Pr. Grace Kitaka was met by an indictment that shocked the country as it emerged that for money, he had sexually molested young boys who all were members in his Church.
A few months later, a couple of pastors, led by Pr. Solomon Male, went ahead and accused Pr. Robert Kayanja of Miracle Center Cathedral in Rubaga of recruiting young men and women into acts of homosexuality. According to Pr. Solomon Male of Arising For Christ Ministries, many pastors in Kampala are recruiting agents for LGBT Communities abroad who pay very hugely for the furtherance of the gay culture into new domains.
“This is what many churches in Kampala are all about,” he reaffirms. And apparently, this is why many of these so-called Churches are more interested in attracting young people who are easy to indoctrinate. Pr. Male fears this vice is still very much alive in Church and may never end as long the self-seeking pastors are reaping big from it.
Lately, the media has been awash with some of the most protracted and sensational in-fighting within the Born-Again Churches. The latest being the still-escalating feud between the infamous Pr. Aloysius Bugingo of House Of Prayer Ministries and Victory Christian Center Pastor, Joseph Sserwadda who accuses the former of having eloped with a chunk of his own flock.
This has since exposed Pastors as only after numbers and not so concerned about the needs of their followers. Except in the presence of the cameras.
“Their cause is a conveniently orchestrated strategy to do only what’s best for business. It is which they expect from each other,” a member in one wrangling pastors’ churches intimated, on condition of anonymity. He added that when that fails, these partners fight.
However, as it turns out, whereas Bugingo may not have done what’s best for his former boss’ business, clearly he did what was best for his own. In a space of less than two years, he has managed to set up a radio, a television station on top of purchase of a large piece of land in the city center where his Church premises would be erected.
Giving In Church
God loves a cheerful giver. This is a scripture every preacher in the city has mastered at their fingertips. As a result preachers find it easy to compel their followers to give as much as they can as that’s how they would reap bountifully. On the other hand, when they sow sparingly, they would automatically reap sparingly. This is a message that makes a couple of rounds in at least every church, a couple of times per week. This is what is famously known as the prosperity gospel.
Purporting to be helping people to prosper, pastor’s end up manipulating a gullible and impoverished people into giving up to the last cent in the pockets. Because according to the prosperity theology, the more you cheerfully give, the more prosperous you are bound to become. This gospel is more sinister than many members will admit. It is insistent, persistent, perpetual and coercive.
“In the long run, you are more impoverished than you came,” lamented a follower, in a Mulago-based Synagogue Church of all Nations, adding that all prayer that you receive has to be paid for.
People feel duty-bound to go to Church every now and then because they realize a close relationship with God is indispensable. But at the same time they feel they are paying for something from God.
According to social commentator, Josiah Kalyango and a staunch Born-Again himself, he remarks, “even while the importance of giving and sowing is undeniable, if it’s incessantly done it makes the followers almost uncomfortable being in Church, which for all intents and purposes, should be like a second home.”
Kalyango adds that some pastors are simply very needy and beggarly.
“Shouldn’t giving be more by inspiration than persuasion?” Kalyango wonders.
On the other hand, according to Rev. Daniel Tegule of Jesus Is King Church, Banda, pastors cannot be turned into villains for rightly putting their hand where they put their labor.
“Shepherding is a calling but it is also a job. Is it strange that when I pray for my people to get successful, they bless me in turn?” Tegule asks.