ARUA. While reading his charge during the consecration and enthronement at Emanuel Cathedral in February 2017, Bishop Charles Collins Andaku outlined the need to professionalize the Diocesan staff for effectiveness and efficiency.

Indeed on 22nd January, 44-year-old Godfrey Naser with his trademark mild smiles, gave his first interview to the press alongside the Bishop at the Diocesan headquarters outlining the ambitious projects the Diocese intends to embark on.

The appointment of Naser, formerly the finance manager to this position of Diocesan secretary (DS) was clearly a bold step towards the said professionalization. Formerly held by senior clergy and yet the new DS is neither clergy nor of advanced age.

“In my charge, I talked about professionalism, we feel the people who have the relevant skills, knowledge, and information about a particular career or job should be employed not because you are a pastor or senior by age but we look at the ability and merit,” the prelate says of Nasser’s appointment.

Bishop Andaku believes Mr. Naser has the vision to implement the diocesan plans having worked as head laity of Onzivu Parish in Arua Urban Archdeaconry besides managing Diocese finances.

“We also want to strategically put our clergy out there to learn other professions; currently, we have one joining Muni University to pursue information sciences and another in Bugema doing masters in education management. We have three on Ph.D., one in South Africa and two in Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono. Some of these are personal sponsorships but if funds permit, we really want to strategize even in medicine, journalism, agriculture, etc. ” Bishop Andaku further states.

DS hits the ground running

Naser says the news of his appointment “hit him hard” because from experience the people appointed to the position have always been clergy and mostly senior people.

He is quick to assert his willingness to work with diverse people with open minds so that the ministry of the gospel can be taken to another level without compromise.

“This period, my prayer is that we can unite the youth, the elderly and the women and have one body for Christ,” he says.

Nasser observed that the Diocesan Council will sit on the 8th February to approve the first consolidated work plan and budget for both the Archdeaconries and the Secretariat.

The ambitious 2018 master plan extending to a period of 50 years is another major project Naser is charged to oversee. The first of the projects, a proposed two billion construction of office complex is already underway as the Diocese intends to implement the projects, phase by phase.

“The current building (offices) was put up in the 1960s and been renovated a number of times, it is reaching a point where it’s not habitable enough although it has strong walls yet, we feel we also need to upgrade now,” Naser added.

The current diocesan offices 05 02 19The current diocesan offices were constructed in the 1960s. PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU.

By press time, works had started with the outer fencing to secure the place; the actual construction could take up to two years with a cost of over two billion shillings according to the contractor’s estimates.

Old offices 05 02 19Works resumed with the fencing of the old offices.

Other developmental projects

The Diocese is set to purchase a lorry for income generation but more importantly, to help in the transfer of clergy. The lorry deal by press time was nearing completion to be expected in the Diocese before the end of February.

The 10-billion shillings strategic plan lasting up to 2023 is yet another of the major projects, heads of departments are to come up with each year’s plan in their meetings and Naser expresses optimism it will yield the intended fruits.

Since his enthronement, Bishop Andaku has taken a tough stance against environmental degradation, confirmation candidates required to plant trees and a Sunday dedicated to environmental protection. This year the Diocese plans to roll out the project on Sunday, March 17th dubbed ‘Tree Sunday.’

Naser says the Diocese registered improvements between 15-20% in Christmas giving’s, a major source of the Church funding in 2018 as compared to the previous years, a sign of “spiritual, economic and physical development”.

During his last days in office, retired Bishop Dr. Joel Obetia decried the low-income base of the Church not only in Madi and West Nile but across the country.

Dr. Obetia in the interview praised the sister Kenyan Church which he says had invested in various projects that generate income for the Church.