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ABOUT THE GULU DISTRICT UNITED METHODIST CHURCHES


* I owe a debt of gratitude to the Reverend David Notogohnya for these historical facts. If there are any errors in this article, they are mine.

        In 2005 people from the Bishop’s Office of the East African Conference (EAC) in Kapala formed an Exploratory Team (ET) to travel to Gulu. The team’s purpose was to explore the possibilities of establishing a United Methodist Church presence in the Gulu District of Uganda. The team was composed of the following persons: the Reverend James Mwoho (Dean of Ugandan United Methodism), the Reverend John Kiviiri, and  the Reverend David Ntogohnya. Other group members were Bob Schooley (a missionary), Bob’s daughter and a woman from New York, Courtney Howard. The guide for this first scouting trip was Mr. Vincent Ochaya born in Gulu and the driver was Moses Tuuke.
This first scouting expedition was two years before the LRA had totally withdrawn from Northern Uganda. The LRA had been weakened, but there were still pockets of LRA rebel bands in remote parts of northern Uganda. This made Gulu a very insecure place. It was necessary to have a convoy of trucks full of Ugandan (UPDF) soldiers to travel safely around the rural areas of the Gulu District. Only a few of the people had begun to move back to their villages from the Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camps that the Musheveni government had established.  

Paul Corti's Brother Robert        In 2007, a second exploratory team was sent to Gulu. The group was smaller this time and composed of three members of the EAC: James Mwoho, Paul Corti and David Notogohnya. On this second exploratory trip, the team met Paul Corti's brother, Robert, who introduced Titus Olaka to the team.
        Titus had been kidnapped by the LRA and suffered injuries to his shoulders. He was one of the few adults released and sent back along with two others who suffered some form of mutilation as a terror tactic. When the group met Titus, he was a back-slidden Christian. The team ministered to Titus and laid their hands on him to renew his relationship with Christ. Titus went back to where he was living in the Opit IDP Camp and gathered a group composed of mainly women and children who met for Christian fellowship in the camp. This fellowship was the beginning of Methodism in Gulu. Working to establish church
People Returning to villages from IDP Camps         The recommitment of Titus brought about a drastic change in his life. Titus had a friend, Solomon Obita, who lived in the IDP Camp in Laiyibi near Gulu City. Solomon liked the change he saw in Titus’s life and what he was doing to establish a fellowship in Opit. So the two together had revived life in Christ, and so together they formed another fellowship in the Layibi IDP Camp.
         With the departure of Kony and his rebel army, peace returned to Northern Uganda. IDP Camps were shut down and people returned to their farms and villages; they took their Methodist fellowships with them.  

David and his familyDavid Ntogohnya

Bishop Wandabula        In 2007 Bishop Wandabula of the EAC appointed David Ntogohnya as Gulu District Superintendent.  David was to establish village fellowships into churches and select lay pastors to lead them. David and his wife Peninah, and their three children live close to Kampala where the Bishop and the East African Conference (EAC) offices are located. Although David is the Gulu District Superintendent, he assists the Bishop, the EAC and other districts. He makes regular and frequent trips to Gulu.
        The pastors in the beginning had: no training, no salary, no transportation, no property, no church facility, no resources for ministry, no Bibles, and no funds for programs or ministries. 

Titus Olaka        The first Methodist Church established was at the village of Opit and Titus Olaka is its pastor.  Titus is the most senior in age of all the pastors. Titus’s wife is Lucy. Titus derives some support  for his family by farming. Below right is a picture of the  Opit Church worship service. The church is making bricks to build their church. Worship service at Opit Church

              Pastor Olaka and his wife Lucy

Soloman ObitaOpit UMC worship serviceSolomon and his family

        Solomon Obita, pastors the Laiybi UMC.The middle picture is Solomon, his wife, childrenand his aged mother who he cares for. On the right is the Opit UMC in worship. Among other things, Solomon has established an orphan school and works in the church & community as a youth leadership developer.

Peter OjokPeter and his wifePeter and his family        Peter Ojok is the pastor of the Koch Goma UMC. Peter is pictured  here with his wife and children. The building (below left) is a community building the church uses for worship while they are building their church (below right).

Worship service at Koch GomaConstruction of Koch Goma Church
         The church has made over 25,000 bricks. Peter is a builder and is buiilding the Koch Goma church (right). Peter has supervised the building of the Koch Corom UMC, the District Conference Center, the Hospitality Lodge.
Peter with the soccer league        In addition to building, Peter has helped organized a soccer league composed of teams from various churches. The emphasis is to evangelize youth. Centenary (Lexington)  UMC and Advance UMC solicited used soccer uniforms for this Gulu league. Peter leads lay teams from his church to visit hospitals and pray with patients. Pastor Peter plays the keyboard.

Catholic School Building Acschwan Church uses.

 Josephine Lamwaka
        Josephine Lamwaka is the pastor of the UMC in the village of Acschwan. She works as a farmer. Presently the church meets at one of the buildings owned by the Catholic Church School.

        The school invites GMPI mission teams to hold evangelistic services and do children ministries on their campus. It is always a high point for every mission trip. Childrens Ministry at Acschwan Church

 

 

 

Alfonse LakalAlfonse and his wifeKoch Corom UMC

 

        Alfonse Lakal is the pastor of the Koch Corom UMC. God has used his preaching and healing gifts to attract the community and the church has grown. This past September Pastor Alfonse held a revival in which 22 peopleclaimed Jesus as Savior. Tailoring by Alfonse's wife

The church continues to give out mosquito nets; recipients receive them with tears of joy. Pastor Alfonse mentors Christine Lalam, the new pastor at Grace UMC at Konjugu. Alfonse’s wife is a tailor and teaches her trade to people in the church so they can earn money to support their families.

 

Douglas KomagumDouglas Komagum and his wife

        Douglas  Komagum is the pastor of the Ariaga UMC and serves as a mentor for Patrick Oryema, the pastor of the Lujolongole UMC. Pastor Douglas holds revivals and women conferences for Bible study and prayer at his church. He leads his church to go door to door sharing the gospel. He is careful to do follow-up visits to new Christians to get them grounded in the faith.

 

Patrick Oreyama and his familyPatrick Oryema and his family

        Patrick Oryema is picturedhere with his wife Irene and their baby. Alphonse is the pastor of the Lujolongole UMC. Lujolongole UMC is one of the two most recent churches formed in the Gulu District. GMPI helped purchase the Lujolongole property then sent the funds to raise a temporary structure (lower left) until thebricks can be made forthe permanent building.

Church at Lujolongole

        The lower right picture shows Pastor Alfonse distributing mosquito netsto appreciative parents.

 

 

Christine Lalam

        Christine Lalam is the new pastor of the most recent UMC at  Konjugu.