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Uganda

‘Oktoberfest’ training in Uganda

By Training, Uganda

During a two-week period in mid-October, APF sponsored three major leadership development conferences in Uganda that together reached around 500 pastors, youth workers, church leaders and entrepreneurs.

1. Role Model Leadership Academy (RMLA) is delivered by APF partner Next Leadership. This was the second of three sessions and was attended by more than sixty delegates from Uganda and Kenya. RMLA requires delegates to commit to three intensive training weeks spread over a year and involves study by extension and peer mentoring groups between the main conference sessions. Those who graduate will receive a certificate of leadership accredited by Bakke Graduate University, Texas. Ivy Kabagambe, who manages the New Beginnings Foundation said, “I am excited by the energy and clarity of vision RMLA generates. I always leave feeling spiritually stirred up and on a high!”

2. Jewels in His Crown was the inspiration of Rose Mugabi, Director of Women’s Ministry at Pastors’ Discipleship Network (PDN), who are also based in Kampala. The conference attracted more than 200 women clergy, pastors’ wives and lay leaders from all over Uganda. Inspirational leadership lessons were drawn from biblical texts including the stories about Hagar, Jairus’ daughter and the call of Moses. “The conference touched many women leaders across our nation,” Rose explained. “It would not have been possible without the support of APF. Every delegate was encouraged to hear the words, ‘God calls you for who you are not in spite of who you are.’ Learning that the issue of leadership is about wisdom and not knowledge was a big take-home for me. We shall continue to shine as Jewels in His Crown because of your partnership.”

3. Over the last five years, APF has sponsored senior leaders from the Baptist Union of Uganda (BUU) to visit isolated communities, taking basic theology and pastoral training to grassroots pastors in remote regional associations. Last October, over 80 local pastors gathered for four-day pastoral training in Lamwo, a town in the far north of Uganda, near the border with South Sudan. APF also arranged for Bibles in Acholi and other regional languages to be distributed to everyone at the training event.

4. As I was in Uganda during October, I was able to participate in some of the training events, bring greetings, preach and oversee how APF training funding was being used. During my stay I also had productive meetings with the new BUU President, Revd Abel Sseringiya and Ben Mutgeki, Managing Director of PDN.

Abel was keen to know more about the BUU’s long-standing partnership with APF and he shared his vision for the Baptist movement in Uganda. Ben and I discussed the possibility of APF sponsoring one of PDN’s field training events later in 2020. I also spent a day with leaders from House of Transformation (HoT) churches in Entebbe and spoke at an evening celebration for church members. The network of churches, which has congregations in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as well as in Uganda, is keen to explore further partnership opportunities with APF. Two HoT pastors are already eVitabu users and following our discussions, that number is likely to grow quickly.

Jubilee Trees

By Uganda

Geoff Holder, APF’s Project Coordinator, updates readers on Jubilee Trees, an exciting new APF partnership with Climate Stewards and the Baptist Union of Uganda:

Trees have a special place in African culture. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide people with food, medicines and wood for tools and shelter. In many traditional African cultures, trees have a spiritual connection to the supernatural world of the ancestors.

Recently, I’ve been researching the role faith plays when African Christians think about the environment. My study demonstrates that trees still retain a very special place in African people’s thinking.

From Malawi to Uganda, from Cameroon to Ethiopia, Christian leaders responding to the research made a direct link between climate change impacts (changing weather patterns, increasing droughts and floods) and the dramatic loss of trees the continent has suffered over the last 50 years. One pastor put it this way: “Trees and African people are one. You cannot separate us.” Many expressed a sense of regret around the continent’s deforestation, but the reasons behind it are complex. Rapid population growth, demand for charcoal, poverty, and the erosion of traditional value systems which protected forests: none of these have helped.

Although responsibility for climate change undoubtedly lies primarily with industrialised nations like the UK rather than in Africa, Africans are showing how we should respond.  The African church is at the forefront of action on climate change. In Uganda, the Bishop of West Buganda, Rt Rev Katumba Tamale recently announced his support for Ugandan school children joining the famous Fridays for Future global school strikes.

Decrying that so many trees had been cut down and not enough planted, “The lives of our children are now at stake,” he said. Most Rev Thabo, Archbishop of Cape Town, says people of faith must walk the walk when it comes to climate change: “We depend on this beautiful web of life God created…  The challenge now is for us to become healers because we have failed to be stewards.”  After all, Africans are collectively the most vulnerable people in the world to climate change impacts whilst having the fewest resources to adapt to and mitigate for these.

But now, the Baptist Union of Uganda, in partnership with APF and Climate Stewards (a UK Christian charity providing carbon offsetting through carbon mitigation projects in the developing world), has launched the Jubilee Trees campaign. Funding from APF and Climate Stewards is helping local Ugandan Baptist churches plant indigenous trees on church land. Hundreds of Maesopsis, Grevillea and Terminalia tree saplings are now growing on five church sites in central Uganda.

This small pilot is only the beginning. Plans are already coming together for more planting next year. Climate Stewards has created a unique online tool called CQuestr that projects the amount of climate change causing carbon dioxide each tree plantation will capture and lock away. The projection is used to estimate a carbon price for the plantation, a monetary value for the carbon captured by the trees.

And as the trees grow, the churches will benefit from shade, timber, fruit, better soils, water retention and wildlife which will support higher crop yields. They’ll protect people, buildings and soils from strong wind, heavy rainfall and scorching sunshine.

This exciting project was conceived by Revd Peter Mugabi, BUU General Secretary. Peter has seen first-hand the impact of deforestation in Uganda. To implement the project, Peter is being supported by Bernadette Kabonesa, an expert in indigenous forestry from the Ugandan National Forestry Resources Research Institute.

With Peter’s passion and Bernadette’s expertise alongside APF’s project management experience and Climate Stewards’ CQuestr toolkit, this project has already captured the imagination. Last year, Christian Aid filmed Peter, Caroline Pomeroy (Climate Stewards’ Director) and myself as we began to put the Jubilee Trees project together. Christian Aid will use the short film as part of their campaign to coincide with the United Nations’ COP26 international climate change conference which will take place in Glasgow in 2020.

Role Model Leadership Academy

By Uganda

Over the last few years, APF have developed a growing partnership with Next Leadership, a Christian leadership consultancy founded by the former President of the Baptist Union and Chair of the Evangelical Alliance, Revd Dr Kate Coleman and Revd Cham Kaur-Mann.

APF are supporting Next Leadership to extend their outstanding leadership training programme into Africa through the Role Model Leadership Academy. As Cham reports, the first of three sessions happened in Kampala, Uganda during March.

A combination of factors meant that Kate and I were working night and day in order to produce exceptional materials and a robust programme for the first gathering of the Academy. We had very little time to pull it all together, yet we sensed God’s presence with us in so many ways. In fact, we were still printing materials on the Sunday evening before our Monday morning departure flight!

As we waited in the departure lounge at Birmingham Airport all seemed well until it was announced that all flights through Amsterdam had been cancelled due to high winds and turbulent weather conditions. We prayed, sensing that God was more invested in getting us to Uganda than we ever could be and was already making a way. Within two hours, we received news that we were to be rerouted, via Kenya. We eventually arrived in Uganda at 5am, seven hours later than expected but in time for our first meeting with the local support team.

With Christian leaders arriving from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, the first session of Role Model Leadership Academy started the next day. Participants included creatives such as a short film maker, artist and singer, through to pragmatic business people. There were graduates and senior church leaders from APF partners including the Baptist Union of Uganda and Pastors’ Discipleship Network. The youngest participant was 20 years old and the oldest, 80 years old, but everyone gelled quickly. Teams formed from groups and accountability developed. Obvious stratification lines dissolved quite early in the programme.

We thought that we had set the bar high, but the participants went over and above our expectations. Even though some had undertaken a whole day’s travel to get to Kampala in the first place, everyone remained engaged all the way through the programme. There was a great deal of group interaction despite many of the participants being unused to non-judgemental spaces where they could speak and share freely without criticism.

One story that particularly stands out is Hosannah’s. Growing up as a ‘house girl’, Hosannah never had an opportunity to go to school and did domestic work to get by. After teaching herself to read and write she now works in Uganda’s vibrant music industry. On the Academy’s second day, she served as a Team Manager. With the support of her peer mentoring group, Hosannah was encouraged to present her team’s outputs in front of the entire gathering. She told me afterwards that this was the first time she has ever done anything like this. Her constant refrain was, “I can’t believe I’m here and that I’ve been asked to speak”. Hers, by the way, was the most concise, focused and informative presentation out of all the groups.

During the Academy, all the participants created their own six-month Personal Leadership Development Goals which they shared with the group and presented to God. By the end of the third day, the participants went off to establish work far beyond anything we’d expected. They had also committed to pair up with ‘Accountability Partners’ and to reconnect with each other every month for six months until the Academy reconvenes in October.

We’re privileged and blessed to work alongside wonderful local partners and grateful to APF for your prayerful support of this exciting initiative.