I welcome you all to the 2nd Born Again Faith National Leaders’ Convention here at Seeta High School, Mukono! The Lord has been good to us and we have reason to thank Him and celebrate His presence and love to us! Praise the Lord! Amen!
The Born Again Faith & Churches (Balokole) became recognized following His Excellency President Y.K. Museveni’s promise on February 14th and 19th 2006 at Namboole and Lugogo stadia respectively, to the effect that, the Born Agains (through their churches and fellowships) would be recognized as a distinct faith, and, that the Balokole Churches would cease to register as Charities at the NGO Board. The Hon. Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and his colleague, 3rd Deputy Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Ali Kirunda Kivejjinja both formerly and respectively Ministers of Internal Affairs, were notably instrumental in the process that saw the President’s promise operationalized.
- We would like to express our sincere gratitude to H.E. Y K Museveni, the President of Uganda for fulfilling his promise of Separation of Churches & Charities, the subsequent Self-Regulatory Status of our Churches and the national calm regarding the existence and activities of our churches. Because of the President’s commitment to this promise the attacks our churches usually had from Government Agencies and operatives have totally been eliminated. We are truly thankful to him.
- The fulfillment of the promise allowed for equality and a shared platform as the other traditional faiths; Roman Catholic Church, Church of Uganda, Uganda Orthodox Church, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council and Seventh Day Adventist.
- The Born Again Faith National Leaders’ Convention is organized by their summit body, the Born Again Faith Federation, which brings together all the Balokole Churches in this country. The federation was created for legal purposes as Government and other Development Agencies would not deal with us unless we had a sound legal status.
- The first convention since the Government’s recognition of Born Again Faith was held August 2010 under the theme; Reach, Serve, Influence. There were 2,416 pastors and leaders from all the 112 districts of Uganda in attendance.
- This convention is designated for Leaders to evaluate their callings in serving God and to elect leadership at National, Regional, District and lower levels. The Guild and National Leadership Team demarcated the nation into twelve (12) regions, while the Districts follow the Government pattern, for ease of administration and monitoring.
- The convention further provides an opportunity for the Government to share and interact with the Born Again Faith fraternity through its structures from national to the grass root level. At this conference, the Government, IRCU, Min of Finance (POPSEC) and other well-wishers are represented and will give speeches.
- Over time, the Born Again Faith has established a fully functional and professionally run National Secretariat that embarked on the grand task of recording data collection concerning all our churches. We have the honor to report that we have so far registered over 3,000 churches from across the country. As many as 10,000 are yet to register as we believe there are over 15,000 churches and pastors in this nation.
- Internally, we have been able to cause order and relative calm within the body. There are notably less media reports of pastors being involved in criminal and other unbecoming acts, as opposed to the reports of two years ago.
- Currently there are over 200 unity groups scattered all over the nation, stemming from the local needs and challenges. Within the fraternity and in a bid to share the blessings of UNITY, the top leaders in our churches are exhibiting unity by visiting each other and using the opportunity to mend fences. It is hoped that with time all churches and fellowships will be totally united as one in spirit, yet maintain their diversity in formation, origin and affiliation. We have conducted numerous National Seminars, Conferences and Church based rallies to solidify relationships and unity.
- With the help of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda we were awarded sponsorship for an HIV/AIDS Prevention Project, with USAID. Currently 10 churches in the Districts of Kitgum, Rukungiri, Jinja, Moroto, Tororo, Masaka, Lira, Kibaale, Kapchorwa and Arua are beneficiaries of USAID funding. The IRCU has also donated a used Toyota Hilux Vigo Pick-up Truck for monitoring these stations. We have also represented Uganda at a number of international conferences on Good Governance, Poverty Alleviation, Peace Initiatives, HIV-AIDS and other Human Rights Advocacy Summits in New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Tanzania and other nations.
- We also work with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development’s POPULATION SECRETARIAT (POPSEC) with their Gender-Based Violence Prevention (GBV) Project. The assignment is to train Heads of BAF Churches departments on skills of preventing and / or managing GBV. We are jointly developing and publishing a manual: Integrating Sexual Reproductive Health and Gender Issues in Church Programs- A handbook for Born Again Churches. We are also happy to note that in the next Population Census we have a promise to be identified as BORN AGAIN / BALOKOLE.
- Through our Born Again Faith Legal Affairs Department, we were able to advocate for changes in the NGO Statute namely, SI 113-1 of 1990, which on revocation paved way for self-regulatory status for the Balokole Churches. Later, the Minister of Internal Affairs clarified on the separation of our Churches and Charities. We have reason to believe that this development led to some of the proposals in the National NGO Policy 2010.
- In October 2010, Government through Cabinet approved this same National NGO policy outlining the specific types and operations for NGOs in this country. This policy proposes a separate framework for all spiritual type activities of the FBOs. On Friday, July 27, 2012, this same policy was officially launched by none other than the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
- The Born Again Faith fraternity attaches a lot of attention and to some degree a concern over this policy and desires clarity on the framework and relative guidelines for religions and faiths in this country. While the Born Again Faith appreciates that a lot has been done, however, since the Balokole were the victims of the Religious Department instituted by President Amin, which saw all their churches banned, Balokole leaders ask to be directly engaged at every stage of the formation of this spiritual framework.
- The Balokole had a grand opportunity to meet His Excellency the President under the auspices of the Uganda Jubilee Network (comprised of Born Agains and Anglicans) where we made several observations and requests to him. First, we shared the Biblical premise of the Jubilee, Leviticus 25 and other scriptural references. He was happy at the teaching related to the Jubilee Celebrations and commented that we had empowered him! We then appealed to him according to the biblical principle and common practice to use his prerogative of mercy and release a notable number of prisoners on or before Independence Day this year, as a gesture of the fear of God.
- He also accepted to join in a Jubilee Night of Prayer when we organized one.
With these few remarks, I welcome you all and especially our Guest of Honor to officially open the 2nd Edition of the Born Again Faith Convention. I thank you.