The outgoing Bishop of Lango Diocese, John Charles Odurkami, has said his 16-year-episcopate was characterised by fights with the clergy.
Bishop Odurkami is set to handover the leadership of the diocese on August 13th to Rev. Canon Dr. Alfred Olwa who was elected the new bishop on May 31st. Bishop Odurkami was enthroned in April 2001 as the 2nd bishop of Lango Diocese after Bishop Melchizedek Otim.
However, he says as he retires he is not a happy man because of what he went through.
Bishop Odurkami told Uganda Radio Network that he started well with his clergymen and women and opened up many development projects for the diocese because everyone was working in harmony.
He says that after eight years, however, things changed when almost 99 percent of his clergy including the archdeacons turned against him over what he says he still doesn’t know. He says ministry and diocesan development suffered a set back as a result of this fallout.
Speaking in a mixture of his native Lango and English, Bishop Odurkami said many members of the clergy believed he was an obstacle to development of the diocese, the reason he is happy to retire so as a new person takes over.
He explains that instead of looking at God who commissioned them to doing his work, many of the reverends and catechists concentrated their energies on fighting the bishop.
He however apologises for those he says he could have wronged unknowingly.
Bishop Odurkami says many accused him of arrogance, something he denies. He describes himself as a very humble, free and social shepherd who at all time was considerate.
He however says that he and his family do not was to carry the grudges into their retirement.
Bishop Odurkami reminded the clergy not to be swayed away from ministry and allow to be compromised in an attempt to please mankind. He calls on them to change and embrace the new Bishop and work hard towards rebuilding the faith in the diocese.
The clergy have however wished the bishop well in his retirement.
Venerable Canon Lawrence Oyugi, the Chairperson House of Clergy in Lango Diocese, says in a statement: “We appreciate you for leading us and giving us clergies the opportunity to serve on your behalf in the respective parishes and places of appointments.”
Oyugi however challenges the clergy to change and stick to their calling in harmony now that they have got a new bishop. “On the other hand, much as he has forgiven us 100 percent, I urge my fellow clergy in the vineyard of the Lord to correct ourselves and stick to our calls in harmony with the incoming bishop,” he says.
Bishop Odurkami who has also been the caretaker Bishop for Kitgum Diocese, says he has asked the House of Bishops to allow him continue working in Kitgum for another year. In 2014, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Church of Uganda appointed Bishop Odurkami as caretaker bishop in Kitgum following the retirement of Bishop Benjamin Ojwang. Then aged 62 and three years away from reaching his retirement age, Bishop Ojwang was forced to abdicate amidst clashes with the clergy and laity.
Rev. Canon Dr. Alfred Olwa is expected to be consecrated as new bishop of Lango Diocese on August 13 at Boroboro Cathedral.