By Irene Lamunu & Eddie Kasyire
In Uganda today, many Churches are mushrooming alongside the traditional Churches most known to majority of us. In every slum, there are different Churches owned by different pastors. The sprouting of these Churches is not known to many but to some it has become a source of survival to the pastors and a source of healing to the Christians who convene in them in search of miracles, so they say. However, some Churches have even reached a moment of determining which legal tender notes should be put in the baskets as offertory. This therefore, calls for caution in that the number of collections during Mass and services has become notorious hence a research to find out the views of the people about the ever increasing Church Collections.
Joseph is a good Catholic who loves going to Church every Sunday, he says his love for church was instilled in him while he was a young boy by his parents. As a child, Joseph has always looked forward to Sunday morning when he would go to Church. His memory of Church were the goodies his parents used to buy him on their way from Church, and the fact that he always had money to give to God in the name of offertory every Sunday. He promised himself that when he grew up he would encourage his children to love Church like he loves it. He has been a good Christian who abides by whatever is requested for in Church, he pays tithe every month, and he also tries to give offertory every Sunday. He says it’s a way in which he gives back to God thanking him for all his blessings so he cannot stop giving in Church. Joseph added that what God has given him is so much that he can never repay him but only helps to promote God’s work on earth; he decided to give Church any money they have asked for. This has taught Joseph to be a generous man because he does not only stop at offering in the Church, but he has also helped people who he thinks need help, giving has become part of him and its very fine for him to give because he says from giving he has received a lot. Joseph has also encouraged members of his family and group of friends to learn to give in Church, “ Don’t get angry when the priests asks for contribution because it’s our duty as Christians to keep the flame of God’s work burning on earth,” he said.
Magrette says that she has loved Church and what happens there, she cannot get tired of going to Church for anything. She however says she has witnessed many of her friends refusing to go to Church for reasons best known to them. She added that there is one particular friend of hers who has refused to come to Church because of the many collections her Church has introduced. She said that in her Church the mass would not end before the Christians collect money more than two times. She added that it was the reason she stopped praying because it was disturbing her.
Juliet Namakula who prefers not to name the Church she prays in says she has devised means to solve the problem of giving a lot of money in Church. Every Sunday she gets her money changed to smaller denominations of UGX: 500 because in her Church every Sunday they have to collect money for the sick besides the main offertory.
Meanwhile, Susan who prays in a Church that belongs to Church of Uganda says that in her Church, the collection baskets are many and they are used to it because it has become part of the Church service routine. She however says that it’s right to collect that money because it’s the Christians in Church who are supposed to look after their Reverends. Susan adds that her community has to build a house for the reverend and also help him finically because he does not have a day time job so it the responsibility of the Christians to take care of the reverend.
At Richard’s Church, the collections are equally many but he says, they as Christians have no complaint because the gifts they receive from God no man can repay. Therefore, the only way is to help promote His kingdom here on earth. He also noted that, nobody is forced to contribute, they do it willingly and they have no problem with it. He noted that at their Church, they even have a policy where villages in their parish are divided into groups and every Sunday, a particular community contributes material things like: food, cement, soap and hand it over to the parish to take care of the priests. “The collections in Church today have become so many that many people are wondering where all the money they are collecting is going, in many churches today after the main Sunday offertory, there will be a development fund collection every Sunday.” Commented one Christian who preferred not to be quoted. Despite the many collections in Church, many Christians are not about to stop going to Church and one Church goer from Mukono town says he only collects towards the development funds when he sees they are necessary and important, but he ignores most of them as long as he pays his tithe and has money for his Sunday offertory.
Surely, the argument about the many Church collections during Masses and Services in the different churches is liable to a mixture of feelings and reactions. To some of the Christians their reproach is that it has become too much and boring whereby it is the same people offering from time to time. In a verbal conversation with one of the Christian who opted to remain anonymous stated that: “the hungry are feeding the rich or the well to do pastors” and he referred to this as a challenge where the poor Christians are milked of the little they have. He added that the pastors have become so selfish and as such they have lost focus. He went on to intimate to me that the collection should be done twice i.e. tithe and the general offertory and may be eventful fundraising but not making it a routine. It is from these two collections that all the demands of the Parish should be allotted such as the payment to the choir, catechists and the general running of the parish. He went on to note that if the donations are limited, the people will be comfortable enough to offer with all their hearts and handsomely because they have no fear of the many collections made and this would also pull more people to come into church. This is due to the fact that many people are deviating from the church because of the numerous collections.
On another note, Mr. Mutumba Charles commented and said that this mentality of having various collections is so backward and therefore, parishioners and pastors ought to think about new innovations of how they can best support the works and activities of the parishes. For example, he reiterated that time has come to think about development and business oriented projects, which can support the Church activities. He mentioned that in their parish, they have resorted to establishing Nursery beds for trees whereby they sell the seedling and in turn acquire funds to redevelop the nursery as well as saving monies for running the Church activities. He also mentioned that the priests and parishioners should establish gardens where they get food and vegetable to feed the pastors as well as selling some products such as matooke to cater for other necessities such as the payment of electricity and water bills other than only depending on the offertory collected during Sunday Masses.
Mr. Mutumba also suggested that in case of development projects the priests ought to think about “donor conferences” where potential people and companies are called upon to contribute to the development, which is ideal and realistic other than people contributing to projects, which are not materialized. He further made other project suggestions such as piggery and chicken rearing which could also contribute to bringing in income other than depending on Christians. In other words, the parishes should become self-reliant.
Last but not least, Mr. Edmond Kajuma also logged in his complaint saying, “some of the monies have been swindled and there is no proper accountability for the funds collected,” which kills the morale of the Christians to offer. Therefore, as Christians who are on pilgrimage to reach the Father, we should work hand in hand and in harmony that we are not deviated from being ardent followers of Christ but work and live in harmony for the greater glory of God.
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