Families and Discipleship in South Rwenzori Diocese

Turning Families into Centres for Discipleship in South Rwenzori Diocese

Bishop Jackson Nzerebende Tembo

South Rwenzori Diocese, one of the 35 Dioceses of the Anglican Church in Uganda, was inaugurated in 1984. Its 300,000 members live in 46,000 households. In a bid to strengthen our church planting programme, the Diocese launched a discipleship strategy targeting Christian families. The overall goal is to build strong Christian families that will translate into strong church and nation. Obviously it will step up the participation of lay people in not only sharing the message of the cross, but funding the process activities of discipling believers and setting up churches.

It is a holistic discipleship approach with specific measurable benchmarks for promotion of the following carefully selected elements as areas of focus:

  1. Christian faith: Families will be encouraged to have and use at home and church personal copies of Bibles and other liturgical books. They will be equipped with Bible study skills. Commitment to and testimony of repentance and confession is key. Other related skills include:
  • Pre-marital lessons, child, husband and wife care skills as well as general godly life styles that prevent drug abuse, domestic violence, early and unwanted pregnancies, devil worship, polygamy and unplanned child bearing. 408 local evangelists have been trained and commissioned as voluntary support staff.
  • Health: Health seeking practices are key. These include practical preventive measures against diseases and sickness, in particular the use of mosquito nets, immunization, voluntary testing, use of clean water, proper sanitation, personal hygiene and healthy eating.
  1. Education: Parents are to remind themselves that education begins at home. They are to inculcate Christian, cultural and general societal values in their children. This requires them to demonstrate love and care for their young ones and family members by investing in their future.
  2. Economical empowerment: Good and faithful servants are those who invest and multiply the talents entrusted to them by their master. He rewards them by giving them more: 25:20ff. Households are encouraged to use family land to produce food and generate money to meet family needs. The Diocese is working with the Government of Uganda to promote growing of fruits, keeping animals and chickens for food and sale. Innovatively, involvement in trade and artisan activities is also encouraged. Individual families are guided on how to access loans and to keep records of their economic activities. Stewardship is to be an integral part of Christian discipleship.
  3. Nationalism: Families are inspired to play active roles in the leadership and management of their country by influencing Government policies and giving them a Christian flavour at both formulation and implementation levels. They are also encouraged to participate in nation building by offering voluntary community service, especially at village level. Schools will be treated as an extension of families and school chaplaincies established and equipped with skilled chaplains.
  4. Leadership for implementation: Church geographical zones have been reviewed by reducing every zone to 20 households. A 7 member committee comprised of members elected from the 20 families oversees/supervises the implementation of the above strategy, on behalf of the local congregation. The costly burden of training 42,000 people who represent 6,000 zonal committees is ongoing: we need 25 Million Ug. Shs. to train the first group of 600 T.O.Ts (Trainer of Trainees) who will train the rest.

Appreciation:

We appreciate every form of support we continue to receive from the 300,000 members of our 500 congregations. These are being supplemented by donations from our overseas partner churches and charities. We cherish these partnerships. We invite Dioceses, congregations, and mission charities to partner with us in our effort to make the family unit an excellent training ground for discipleship. This will reverse the current negative attitude of many young people towards Jesus Christ and the Church. The family altar will become an integral part of the traditional family inheritance.

I wish you a peaceful and very blessed 2016.

Rt Revd Jackson Nzerebende Tembo is Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese.