ARUA: Rt. Rev. Charles Collins Andaku, the Bishop of Madi and West Nile Diocese has asked Christians to make weddings as cheap as possible; emphasizing that what is important is the sacrament one receives not lavish parties.

The Bishop said commercialization of weddings has turned many away from the sacrament as wedding are increasingly becoming unaffordable.

He called on Christians to participate in mass wedding ceremonies that the Diocese has embarked on as a way of marking the 100 years of the Anglican faith in West Nile region.

Bishop Andaku made the remarks on Thursday while addressing media on the progress of Centenary activities at his office in Mvara.

“We give couples message of hope and one of these messages is about pillars of a good marriage and another of love, faithfulness and forgiveness” he said.

A total of 102 couples from different Archdeaconries of Koboko, Oyibu, Logiri, Arua and Maracha have been wedded ahead of the Centenary Celebration slated to take place on June 24, 2018.

The wedding ceremonies were briefly suspended during the lent period to allow Christians concentrate on fasting.

According to the information from the communications office of the Diocese, Terego Archdeaconry is set to be the next with 22 couples lined up to tie the knot on the May 5, at Oninia Church of Uganda, 20 couples are also lined up for the same in Rhino Camp with Bishop Andaku set to wed them on the May 12,

Diocesan communications officer, Mr. Martin Bileni said many people have been fearing to do weddings because of the huge costs involved in the eats and drinks during the functions.

"As church, we would then like to take this centenary celebration to demonstrate to our Christians that it’s possible to do weddings with one or two other couples where you can easily share costs for light meals for your guests,” Mr. Bileni said.

He reminded the Christians that Church marriage ceremonies are not about eats and drinks or expensive ornaments but seeking blessings from God upon their marriages.

Bileni said the Centenary weddings are free of charge; the couples only have to buy rings and for those who can afford are asked to prepare very small and cheap meals for their closest friends and relatives.

With the popularity of the mass weddings, Mr. Bileni said many more couples have come to declare their interest in getting the Holy sacrament.

The diocese has also had programs to reach the already wedded couples with messages of counseling intended to keep the marriage bond strong.

Mrs. Florence Ezaru, one of the couples from Vurra Archdeaconry testified that the counseling after marriage has helped her family to get together after some disruptions due to domestic violence.

Mr. David Ondoma another beneficiary of the counseling said he strayed to marry another woman after his wedding, stayed away for 6 months but with the help of the Church, he has been able to return to his wedded wife.

Rev. Yona Adebo, the Parish Priest of Ocoko Parish urged the wedded couples to cooperate with the Church as they make vows in the wedding sacrament.

Activities to mark the centenary celebrations will climax on June 24 with President Yoweri Museveni expected to be the Chief Guest and the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Rt. Rev Stanley Ntagali as the main celebrant.