Ugandan bishop enjoys Sidmouth visit during UK tour

A BUSY bishop from Uganda has been enjoying Sidmouth s sunshine during a stay at the home of the Reverend Handel and Joan Bennett.

A BUSY bishop from Uganda has been enjoying Sidmouth's sunshine during a stay at the home of the Reverend Handel and Joan Bennett.

Bishop Joel Obetia of the Church of Uganda, is touring Britain to meet church leaders in Derby, Armargh in Northern Ireland and Andover.

Last week he flew into Exeter airport, visiting the cathedral with Handel and Joan, who he first met in Uganda in 2006.

His diocese of Arua lies in the equatorial West Nile district of the country.

Handel said: "The growth of the church in his diocese has been remarkable. In the last three years he has personally confirmed 32,000 church members, most between 11 and 15 years of age.

"Each person must first express a wish to be confirmed in their faith. Then they start a one year schooling in Christian education, before committing their lives to Christ.

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"As a practical response to the effects of global warming in Uganda, each new Christian must plant a tree! Before they are confirmed they stand beside their tree, and are personally interviewed by Bishop Joel."

In his Arua diocese, 60 percent of church members are under 30 and new ministers must be under 40 in order to be ordained.

When Handel visited in 2006 he found that in 50 years in the West Nile District, the church had grown from 100 churches to 605. Now they have grown to over 800 in 2009.

Bishop Joel said: "I believe the next phase will be to encourage the Church to engage in world mission.

"I have much enjoyed my visit to Sidmouth, during which I visited your parish church.

"I was pleased to meet Reverend Prebendary David James, and chatted with him and other members of the congregation."

Afterwards Bishop Joel enjoyed Sidmouth's sea front, climbed Jacob's Ladder, and admired Connaught Gardens, before leaving for Hampshire.

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