June 12, 2024

Northern Deanery

Pho

Northern Uganda is one of the deaneries in Uganda that has few concentration of the Lutheran congregation and less number of ministers. At the moment there are only three congregation and five preaching stations with two ordained pastors, 4 vicars and 10 commissioned evangelist

Rev. Odoo James Okello | Dean of Northern Deanery

Basing on this, the deanery council ask help so that more congregations are planted in the deanery. A consultation was made with the LCU bishop and the C2U administrator basing on the need assessment which was done in Far Eastern deanery Amudat District. All this officers agreed that the northern need such an activity.

Northern deanery consist of districts in Lango Sub region, Acholi Sub region and West Nile sub region. It has three congregation, five preaching stations. It is served by three ordain ministers, four vicars and many commissioned evangelists.

List of ministers serving in the deanery

NoNameCongregationDistrict
01Rev. Odoo James OkelloNgettaLira City
02Rev. Adafala PatrickAngettaAlebtong
03Rev. Ray Request OwinyNebbiNebbi
04Vicar Ojok IsaacGood ShepherdLira City
05Vicar Ogwal StephenNgettaLira City
06Vicar Otim RayAromoLira
07Vicar Ogwang Tonny NileOmoroAlebtong
08Vicar Wanican CholeNebbiNebbi
09Evangelist Omara DavidAbongo ringoLira
10Evangelist Opio JosephAkuraAlebtong

LIST OF SEMINARY STUDENTS

NONAMECONGREGATIONDISTRICT
01Odur PolycarpOtuke townOtuke
02Oyeng LeoOmoroAlebtong
03Ayaka SamuelAlebereLira
04Keuber BensonNebbiNebbi
05Warom NelsonNebbiNebbi
06Oyat ChristopherNebbiNebbi

LIST OF THE DEANERY COUNCIL

NONAMEPOSITIONCONGREGATIONDISTRICT
01Rev. Odoo James OkelloDeanNgettaLira City
02Vicar Ojok IsaacDeanery Coord.Good ShepherdLira City
03Mr. Otim JamesHead of laityGood ShepherdLira City
04Mr. Ojok FrancisC/P laityNgettaLira City
05Mr. Omara DavidSec. LaityGood ShepherdLira City
06Mrs. Middy OpioC/p womenGood ShepherdLira City
07Miss. Susan ApioSec. WomenAngettaAlebtong
08Odongo MorishC/p YouthNgettaLira City
09Ogwang AaronSec. YouthGood shepherdLira City
10Rev. Patrick AdafalaPastorAngettaAlebtong
11Rev. Request OwinyPastorNebbiNebbi
12Vicar Ogwal StephenPastor NgettaLira City
13Vicar Otim RayPastorAromoLira
14Vicar Wanican ChloePastorNebbiNebbi
15Vicar Ogwang Tony NilePastorOmoroNebbi
16Evangelist Opio JosephPastorAkuraAlebtong

LIST OF MTC STUDENTS

NONAMECONGREGATION/PLACEDISTRICT
01Okell CarickOkwangOtuke
02Odur PolycarpOtukeOtuke
03Ebong AbrahamNgettaLira City
04Ayaka SamuelAlebereLira
05Adero MirriamSerereSerere
06Okello JonathanNgettaLira city
07Oyeng LeoOmoroAlebtong
08Ogwang AaronGood shepherdLira City
09Akullu SarahGood ShepherdLira City
10Ogwang AndrewAdwariOtuke
11Odongo IvanBarrLira
12Okwee DenishBar AlegiOtuke

PARTNERS SERVING IN NORTHERN DEANERY

The deanery was privileged to partner with LCU secretariat, St. John Glendale Wisconsin, USA, Stephen Maxwell Ministry and Connect to Uganda.

LCU supported the following activities;

  • Training of seminary students
  • Funding bishop’s travel and accommodations expenses while in the deanery
  • Advisory and advocacy for the deanery
  • Leading the mission team in the deanery
  • Encouraging the minsters to remain in the ministry and they to stay in the word of God

St. John Glendale Wisconsin, USA supported the deanery in the following activities

  • Roofing of Good shepherd Lutheran Church Akia
  • Purchase of Land near Good Shepherd Church
  • Completion of Lira MTC and Ngetta Church
  • Mission training class
  • Translation and printing of Lango Lutheran Hymnal
  • Evangelism and outreach ministry
  • Partial funding of the upcoming ordination

Connect to Uganda have supported the following activities

  • Roofing of Lira MTC/Ngetta Lutheran Church
  • Drilling of a bore hole at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Akia
  • Funded the needs assessment activities

Stephen Maxwell’s Ministry

  • Funding the construction of the Odoo’s house (still under construction)
  • Support the dean to travel back and forth to his congregation and LCU office in Jinja

TRAINING OF LEADERS AT THE MISSION TRAINING CENTER

This activity is helping the deanery to develop new leaders that will help in the spreading of the gospel to the community of northern Uganda.

The vicars were exposed to the students and it has strengthen their ability in teaching and defending the Lutheran doctrine

Achievements of the training

  • Learners appreciated the Lutheran doctrine
  • Three had joined the seminary to become pastors
  • Some were able to transform themselves from within and started to be active in their community and congregation
  • Learners the training since it was in the local language

Challenges

  • Some were not willing to attend the training frequently with complain of survival
  • Some needed more travel refunds claiming that they were told that there is always a lot of money for such trainings
  • Late coming by learners

TRANSLATION OF LANGO LUTHERAN HYMNAL

This activity is in its final stage, up to 150 hymns have been translated and order of divine service without communion, with communion, burial service, baptism, confirmation, marriage, dedication of house and church.

The translation team have printed few copies at the moment for congregations to appreciate and make corrections in language usage and it has been given three months for this. It will then be printed and will be launched by the bishop of the Lutheran Church of Uganda during the ordination of four men in to the ministry which is scheduled for January 2023  

BAPTISM AT GOOD SHEPHERD LUTHERAN CHURCH AKIA JANUARY 16TH 2022

6 children were welcomed into the body of Christ through baptism. I officiated the baptism and was assisted by Vicar Ojok Isaac. The service was attended by over 30 congregants

DIVINE SERVICE AT NGETTA LUTHERAN CHURCH 23RD JANUARY 2022

Conducted divine service at Ngetta Lutheran Church where the church had bought choir gown and welcomed two new Christians in the Church. Silas Torohdi formerly a Jehovah Witness and Okello Carrick who was formerly a Muslim. The congregation is organizing them to join seminary training in August.

From Kassim to Joshua, the 30 years old Okeng Joshua married with 3 kids hailing from a Muslim family socked his siblings when he came to Ngetta Lutheran wanting to be baptized. In most of his life time he had rarely attended Muslim service but he would call himself a Muslim.

He confessed that after the death of his mom who had become a Roman catholic he saw that Christianity is more open to its preaching than Muslim. He said he had been attending the Lutheran Church in hiding and he didn’t want the church to know it. “Today I am here to be prayed for and to be baptized into the Lutheran faith. I have been drinking out of frustration and my family had all along been fighting one another after the death of our mom.” He said he had chosen the name ‘Joshua’ because God has delivered him form the bondage. Regarding ‘Joshua’, Moses had already prayed for mercy on his behalf, as it says: “And Moses called Hoshea Yehoshua (Joshua) – meaning, may God save you from the intrigue of the scouts.” Talmud. Here therefore we see the hand of God at work, from Kassim which means ‘divided” now Joshua has been delivered. In reality, Joshua was already divided among the family members, none of the family members were concern about him. He was one time thrown of the family land and he went and rented for almost three years. Now he is loved and he have peace with the siblings!

Figure 4 Okeng Joshua during is baptism

Joshua from the day he came to Ngetta Lutheran church has become the happiest man, he comes early in Church although he is struggling with his wife and the children for them to join. He is no longer drinking alcohol and he has more time for the family as narrated by the wife in one encounter with a church member. 

NEEDS ASSESSMENT 22ND – 27TH MAY 2022

Introduction

Northern Uganda is one of the deaneries in Uganda that has few concentration of the Lutheran congregation and less number of ministers. At the moment there are only three congregation and five preaching stations with two ordained pastors, 4 vicars and 10 commissioned evangelist

Basing on this, the deanery council ask help so that more congregations are planted in the deanery. A consultation was made with the LCU bishop and the C2U administrator basing on the need assessment which was done in Far Eastern deanery Amudat District. All this officers agreed that the northern need such an activity.

Figure 7 Connect to Uganda Adminstrator interviewing the community development officer of Otuke District

Activity

The assessment was to help both the LCU and northern deanery to plant more congregations in the best way possible.

The area of focus during the assessment was on

  • Concentration of churches, its activities and the different types
  • Schools in the district and how they are being manned
  • Area of water and sanitation
  • Health services
  • Youth and women activities within the villages
  • General economic activities of the region
  • Any other point of interest that may arise while there

The assessment was intended was done in the districts of;

  • Lira City – Lira City East division – Around Ngetta and Akia Villages
  • Lira City West division head quarters 
  • Alebtong District – Town council
  • Otuke District – Town council

Figure 8 Mr. Fosca Musirike poses in a busy market in Alebtong during the needs assessment

Deanery contributions

The deanery provided lunch, fuel and guide for the all days the C2U administrator while in Lira.

The details of the assessment will be provided by the C2U administrator soon

BISHOP AND THE MISSIONARY VISIT FROM 9TH TO 14TH APRIL 2022

Introduction

Northern deanery was privilege to host the LCMS and Alliance missionary this April 2022. The team which led by the LCU Bishop Charles Bameka. Mrs. Megan Mantey a missionary with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod who had been in Uganda for almost five years and had not reach northern Uganda, so she added on with the Alliance missionary, Rev. Volmir Da Rocha the LTCU principle and Rev. Daniel Martins to visit Lira and had a stewardship seminar from 10th through 12th April 2022.  

Objectives of the visit

  • To introduce the Alliance missionaries and Mrs. Megan Mantey the to the congregations in Lira
  • To visit the seminary students and some congregants in the north
  • To build relationship with the congregations and people of Lira
  • Share ideas about stewardship with the Akia community and Good Shepherd congregation
  • Attend divine service with Good Shepherd Church

THE STEWARDSHIP CONFERENCE

The two days conference was attended by more than 30 participants from Akia community and facilitated by the missionaries. The following topics were discussed during conference;

  1. What is meant by stewardship
  2. Who is behind stewardship
  3. The biblical principles of stewardship
  4. How can we be help to the church in particular as Christians?
  5. What is it that you have been doing well and those that you were not doing well but improve on?

The participants were able to identify their weaknesses and strengths in regard to stewardship.

Amongst the weaknesses that were identified included;

  1. Unable to believe that we are blessed by God
  2. Unable to believe that whatever we have all belong to God

What Is Stewardship?

In biblical terms, Charles Bugg defines stewardship in the Holman Bible Dictionary as “Utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.” Christian Stewardship regards the obligation of Christians in managing and utilizing intelligently the gifts that God has given. The Christian steward is not only responsible for the financial blessings provided by God but also the spiritual gifts that are given through the Holy Spirit. God wants human beings to be His stewards in the work of creation, redemption, and sanctification.

Stewards in the Bible

Joseph’s story in Genesis is considered one of the best examples of biblical stewardship (Gen. 39).

After Joseph was brought to Egypt, the Lord made him a prosperous man. While Joseph was in the house of his Egyptian master, the Bible says, “So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had” (Gen. 39:4).

Relating to the biblical stewardship definition – “the manager of a household” – it is clear why Joseph is an extraordinary example of what it means to be a good steward.

Figure 9 LCU bishop and the missionary praying for the family of Otim James the deanery head of Laity after the stewardship conference

Importance of Stewardship

According to scripture, God created Earth for mankind and we are now stewards of His creation. This means it is our responsibility to look after and take care of this world. We should accept this responsibility and appreciate God’s gift of creation for being our home. Our stewardship of creation involves the caretaking of the environment and animals as well as our families and communities. Being a good steward in this world is one way of expressing our love for God and our gratitude to Him.

Characteristics of Stewardship

The first characteristic is gratitude. A Christian steward is “one who receives God’s gifts gratefully”. Gratitude assumes that we acknowledge God as the true owner of all that we have and all that we are. Gratitude to God, and to those who have shared themselves with us, helps us maintain a true sense of identity as Christ’s disciples.

The second characteristic is accountability. A good steward is “one who cherishes and tends God’s gifts in a responsible and accountable manner”. Accountability reminds us that we are responsible for what we do or fail to do with our time, our talent, and our money. As Christ’s disciples, we are responsible for building up God’s kingdom, and on the Last Day, we will be held accountable.

The third characteristic is generosity. A Christian steward is “one who shares God’s gifts with others out of righteousness and love”. Generosity drives us outside of ourselves – often in ways that contradict our own interests. The lives of the saints give us countless examples of individuals whose generosity won them true freedom and joy. Giving is good for us; it is also right and just to share what we have been given with others. Ascetic

The final characteristic is the willingness to give back to the Lord with increase. God wants us to take his gifts and develop them. A Christian steward is called to be productive, to make a difference in the world.

Traditional Christian spirituality teaches us to give back to the Lord by means of the ascetical principles of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In prayer, we give back to God our time and our hearts. By fasting, we deny ourselves the good things that we want and need; the more genuine our self-denial is, the more we flourish and grow. Through almsgiving, we share what God has given us with others; if we give from the heart, we gain infinitely more than we have given away. Prayer, self-denial, and sacrificial giving are the essence of what Christian stewardship is all about!

Figure 10 Mr. Otim James handing gifts to the LCU bishop and the dean after the stewardship conference

Six Principles of Christian Stewardship

 1: God doesn’t need your money; He already owns everything. Scripture is clear that God owns everything. That makes sense, since He created the whole universe, including us! The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2)

2: We are God’s stewards, managing His resources for His benefit. God created us to be stewards of His creation. Stewards don’t own what is entrusted into their care; they simply manage it on behalf of the owner. God made this clear to Adam and Eve on the day He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” We must do no less in our management of the resources that God has entrusted into our care. This includes all of creation, as well as our time, talents, and treasures.

3: God will supply every need of those who trust and obey Him. Just as God provided for Adam and Eve’s needs, He also provides for us. Although He frequently allows scarcity and want to plague those who are poor stewards, He is ultimately our Provider and Sustainer. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Also in Matthew 6:25-34 it is notable that a farmer must work hard to prepare the soil, plant the seed, cultivate the plants, and harvest the crop. Yet, when it really comes down to it, he is powerless to cause the seeds to grow into a useful crop; only God can do that. No farmer can claim self-sufficiency. No matter how hard he works, he would harvest no crop without God’s providence, as many have experienced in times of draught. Likewise, the Apostle Paul recognized that God took care of him, and that as a result, in all circumstances, he could be content. (Philippians 4:12-19) As with Paul, our contentment in God’s provision depends both on our obedience to God and our faith in Him as our Provider.

4: God wants your offerings to Him to reflect and boost our faith in Him. Since God doesn’t need anything to accomplish His will, our offerings to Him accomplish a different purpose: to build our faith. When we acknowledge that we are God’s stewards, and that He will meet our true needs, we demonstrate that faith by giving back to Him in obedience to Him. It takes faith to trust that God will meet our needs when we offer some of it back to Him. It’s much like a farmer, who must reserve some of the crop to use as seed for another year. If he were to eat all of the harvest, he would soon become deprived. Instead, he must exercise faith that God will continue to provide by planting some of the seed into the ground. We reap what we sow. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not unwillingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God sought to teach us this of faith through His commands that we refrain from gainful employment one day a week, and He promised to provide for us during those times.

5: Committing in advance to give a specific percentage of our gross income back to God demonstrates faith in His provision. Returning to God what you think you can live without doesn’t demonstrate faith in His provision; it reveals a self-sufficient heart that doesn’t believe that God is our Provider and Owner. Instead, God wants us commit in advance to return to Him a specific percentage of our gross income, before we may even know what the income might be. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. In fact, the more we step out in faith and obedience, the more God will show Himself faithful, and the larger the percentage we’re likely to commit to Him in advance.

6: Material things will eventually vanish, but they can be invested to reap eternal dividends. Material things are not inherently evil; they have a place. But that place is temporary and limited. In fact, the harder we attempt to hang onto material things, the quicker they disappear. God often reminds us of these realities in His Word. Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. God as the owner is glorified. If we squander that opportunity, God will raise up someone else who will be faithful, and we will have less of eternal value with which to praise our Master in eternity. Let us be good stewards, growing in our faith and ability to be used by God to advance His Kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Outcome of the training

The participants were able to identify their weaknesses and strengths in regard to stewardship.

Amongst the weaknesses that were identified included;

  1. Unable to believe that they are blessed by God
  2. Unable to believe that whatever one have all belong to God
  3. They were being taken up by material things
  4. They fail some times to give God their time in service to him
  5. They only think of money as being the things there were to give to God

In their strength towards stewardship they said;

  1. Able to look after the families
  2. Support the church programs by participating when called
  3. Give offerings and tithe
  4. Use their God given talents to reach the unchurch

Participants’ responses

Participants in their confession said these;

Mrs. Joyce Oola the vice chairperson of Akia congregation; “… I use to believe that we can give only our money to the church for supporting the ministry, but now I know God needs everything from me since they are all his not ours…”

Mr. Ogwal Tom; “…for me I used to believe that tithe only belong to those who are rich, now I know that even one tenth of my time is needed by God and not only a tenth but all…” 

Miss Adoline Aduku; “…even the rock business we do is part of the things I should give to God for the support of his mission…”

Family Visitations

The team was able to have a door to door visit some families which included; Vicar Ojok, Vicar Ogwal, Evangelist Opio Joseph, Evangelist Omara David, Ogwal Tom, Joyce Oola, Adoline Aduku, and many others. The Christians were very excited to receive the bishop and the missionaries in their home. They were humble and promised to follow the bishop’s example. They gave the bishop and the dean chickens and a goat.

Figure 11 LCU bishop and the missionaries in one of their home visitations in Akia community

Appreciation On behalf of the Christians in Lira and more especially Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Akia thank the bishop and the missionaries for the visit and for dedicating their time and resources to share their experience with the people of our community. This was a remarkable time in the lives of the community and they have asked that when time allows they come again and again.