Christopher Reuben Spartas (Bishop Christopher Nilopolian)
Christopher Reuben, also known as Christopher Reuben Spartas and Spartas Reubuen Mukasa, was an African convert bishop to Orthodox Christianity during the early part of the twentieth century who through his own efforts, after learning about the African Orthodox movement in America, introduced Orthodox Christianity to East Africa. His search and conversion were instrumental in the continued expansion of Orthodoxy in East Africa.
Reuben Mukasa Mugimba Sobanja was born about the year 1900 in Uganda in East Africa. His father was Yakobo Damulira Mugimbalume and mother, Maliza Mukomutibwa, a Christian woman. A member of the Muganda ethnic group, Reuben was baptized and raised in the Anglican Church. As a teen, Reuben adopted the name "Spartas" because he had been told that he exemplified the spirit of ancient Greek Sparta. Spartas received his education in the Anglican mission schools before continuing his education at King's College in Budo, Uganda where he discovered that the Anglican Church was an offshoot of the older, true church. After his graduation in 1920, Spartas joined the Kings African Rifles where he met a fellow Muganda, Obadiah Basajjakitalo. In 1925, the two left the Rifles to found the Anonya Private School, near Degeya.
Also in 1925, Spartas learned about the African Orthodox Church movement that grew out of the 1921 religious movement in America by George Alexander McGuire. Attracted by the goal and ideals of the AOC to become a universal black church affiliated with the ancient Christian Church which was not known for racism or colonialism, Spartas wrote to George McGuire. In 1928, McGuire replied and referred Spartas to Daniel Alexander who was the archbishop of the AOC in South Africa. After meeting with Bp. Daniel, Spartas left the Anglican Church in January 1929 and began an AOC presence in Uganda. During the years 1931 and 1932, Abp. Alexander visited Uganda and ordained Spartas and Basajjakitalo to the priesthood.
During a visit by Abp. Alexander to Spartas, a Greek expatriate named Vlahos asked Alexander to baptize his children. Having noted that the baptismal service conducted by Alexander did not follow proper Orthodox form, Vlahos advised Spartas to contact Nicodemos Sarikas, an Orthodox archimandrite, serving the Greek community in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). This Spartas did. After Sarikas visited Spartas in Uganda, Spartas broke his relationship with Alexander and sought, under advise of Sarikas, recognition by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Since his letters were not answered, Spartas and his friends, including Irenaeus Majimbi and Theodoros Nankyamas, journeyed to Alexandria. There, they spent several years learning what Holy Orthodoxy was and, ultimately, being ordained and sent back to Uganda.
In 1942, Metropolitan Nicholas of Axum visited Uganda as a representative of the Patriarch of Alexandria. Ethnically an Arab, Metr. Nicholas was more concerned about ministry to people beyond the Greek community than had been the Greek hierarchs. Thus, he recommended the reception of the African Orthodox into the Patriarchate, an action that was delayed until 1946, after World War II ended.
In a visit to the Patriarchate in Alexandria in 1946, Spartas was named vicar general for Uganda. In September 1953, through Father Spartas' efforts, the African Greek Orthodox Church was registered in Uganda, and in 1959 the Patriarchate of Alexandria established an archdiocese in East Africa that encompassed Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, led by Metropolitan Nicholas (Valeropoulos) of Irinoupolis.
With recognition, the labors of Fr. Spartas and his friends began as they recognized that spreading the faith also meant educating the people. He began teaching English language in the school he founded that was officially private and belonged to the Church. Teaching English in Uganda at that time ran into the opposition of the colonial British government that tried to maintain its monopoly on education with a law that allowed teaching English only in state schools. This did not stop Fr. Spartas, for which he spent five years in prison.
To gain support of the new churches in East Africa, Fr. Spartas and some of his fellow priests traveled the Greece and the United States to ask for missionary help and financial aid. In 1972, the three native Ugandans were elected to become bishops, Fr. Spartas as Bishop Christopher Nilopolian, Theodore Nankyamas, and Arthur Gatung’u was Gathunna.
17 December 1972 he was consecrated auxiliary bishops of Neilopoleos and appointed vicar bishop of Metropolis of Eirinopolis.
Bishop Christopher reposed in 1982.
More in The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery
George (Gathuna), bishop of Nitria
In June 1937 he was ordained as a priest by Bishop Daniel William Alexander. In the 1930s a spontaneous movement of indigenous Africans towards the Orthodox Church began in Uganda under the leadership of a former Anglican, Reuben Spartas. In 1946 the fathers Spartas and Obadiah visiting Kenya. On their own autonomous motivation the "African Orthodox Church of Kenya" came into communion with the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the head of this Church Arthur Kaduna was ordained the first Kenyan Orthodox priest named George. Also in the 1950s, fought, along with many orthodox priests in the movement for independence from colonial Kenya (At the same time, the protestant and catholic priests called the uprising a rebellion of pagans and savages). Kaduna spent 10 years in prison, along with leader of the Kikuyu tribe and country's future president Jomo Kenyatta. The Orthodox communities in East Africa that had been founded under his leadership were organized into the Metropolis of Irinoupolis with headquarters in Nairobi in 1958. He was first Bishop of Kenya and the first Kenyan Missionary to the people of Bunyore. In 1972 he was elected titular Bishop of Nitria, Assistant Bishop of the Metropolis of Eirenoupolis. He was consecrated on 25th February 1973 at st. Paul, Kagira.
In 1974 Bishop George Gathuna, hence the split in the Orthodox Church into African and Greek Orthodox. On 30th November 1979 Bishop George (Gathuna) was defrocked, caused by what he called a problem of leadership and authority. However, the Patriarchate accused him of a lack of vision. Following his defrocking Bishop George (Gathuna) joined a schismatic group under a bishop in Greece that followed the old calendar (Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili - Holy Synod in Resistance). Several other Orthodox Christians in Kenya followed him. 17th November 1986 he was was reconsecrated as the Bishop of the African Orthodox Church of Kenya, Given the name Niphon Kigundu. On July 16, 1987, the defrocked Bishop George Gathuna reposed, and his burial was attended by Metropolitan Cyprianos from the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece. Eventually however, the schism was healed, and on November 1, 2006, Bishop George Gathuna of Nitria was reinstated posthumously by Patriarch Theodoros II and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
- Amos Masaba Akunda Orthodox Christian dialogue with Banyore culture
- GEORGE (Gathuna), Bishop of Nitria. Orthodox Research Institute. Retrieved: 2013-04-19.
- Memorial service of the late Bishop George Athur Gatung'u Gathuna
More in The Orthodox Church in Kenya & the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastical School of Makarios III
News & articles from Orthodox Kenya here.
Theodore (Nankyama) of Kampala
Photo from the holy liturgy for his soul, in Thessaloniki, Greece (see here)
Metr. Theodoros was born in Tweyanze, Monde, Uganda about the year 1924. He became associated with Fr. Spartas and the group of Ugandans who had discovered Orthodox Christianity. At the age 21, he was sent to study at the patriarchate in Alexandria, Egypt, initially from 1945 to 1948 at the Kaniskerion School and then at the Photios II College from 1948 to 1954. In 1954, he entered the Theological School of the University of Athens. After his graduation in 1959, Theodoros studied for two years at Oxford University under a scholarship from the World Council of Churches. In 1961, Theodoros returned to Alexandria where he was ordained to the priesthood before returning to Uganda. In 1969, Father Theodoros was raised to the dignity of archimandrite. In 1972, Fr. Theodoros was elected bishop of Naukratis by the Holy Synod of the patriarchate of Alexandria as auxiliary bishop to the Metropolitan of Irinoupolis in East Africa.
In November 1994, Bishop Theodoros was elected Metropolitan of the newly established Archdiocese of Kampala and All Uganda that was formed from a restructuring of the Archdiocese of Irinoupolis. He established his see at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Namungoona, a suburb of Kampala. The first African elected metropolitan, his tenure as the ruling hierarch occurred during a time of great stress in Uganda from the rule of dictatorships and civil war. Through this chaos, Metr. Theodoros strove to improve the status of his faithful. Obtaining scholarships, he was able to send young Ugandans to Greece, Romania, and the United States to be educated in various fields. As these students returned to Uganda, they assisted in rebuilding and revitalizing the church.
After his repose, Metr. Theodoros was succeeded by Metr. Jonah (Lwanga) in 1997.
Jonah (Lwanga) of Kampala
His Eminence, the Most Reverend Jonah (Lwanga) is the Archbishop of Kampala and All Uganda, in central Africa, part of the Church of Alexandria. His see is Kampala, with jurisdiction over all Uganda.
The future Archbishop was born in Degeya in 1945 to an Orthodox family. Fr. Obadiah Kabanda Basajakitalo was his grandfather. From 1952 to 1964, he completed his general education in Bulemezi and Kyaddondo, Uganda and then departed that year to study at the Ecclesiastical School of Crete, until 1968. Immediately following graduation from the Ecclesiastical School he continued studies at the University of Athens, graduating in 1978 with a degree in Theology and Philosophy.
In 1981, he was ordained to the diaconate, followed the next year by ordination to the priesthood. He then served under Archbishop Anastasios (Yannoulatos) of Kenya as the dean of the Archbishop Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary. During this time, he was elevated to archimandrite. On January 27, 1992, he was consecrated Bishop of Bukoba. On May 12, 1997, he was elected by the Holy Synod as Archbishop of Kampala and All Uganda, succeeding Metropolitan Theodoros (Nankyamas).
During 1999, His Eminence Jonah made a lecture tour in the United States in which he described his experiences and struggles as a missionary in Uganda. He visited over 18 parishes throughout the United States.
News & articles from Orthodox Uganda here.
Ieronymos (Muzeeyi) of Mwanza
His Eminence, the Most Reverend Ieronymos (Jeronymos) of Mwanza is Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Mwanza, part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.
His Eminence Ieronymos was born on March 18, 1963 in Bulopa, Busoga, Uganda. He studied Theology at the University of Athens between 1986 and 1991. He continued with his post-graduate studies in Canon Law also at the University of Athens from 1992 to 1996. He was ordained deacon and priest during 1996. During 1996 and 1997, he served as Vicar General in the Archdiocese of Kampala followed by serving in the same position at the Diocese of Bukoba in Tanzania during 1997 through 1999. He was consecrated Bishop of Bukoba on November 23, 1999, and then was elevated to Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Mwanza on November 23, 2007.
Metropolitan Jeronymos at the Bukoba Diocese Center overlooking Lake Victoria
From the website of the Orthodox Church in Tanzania
Born in Bulopa Busoga, Uganda on March 18, 1962 into an Orthodox family, Jeronymos Muzeeyi was raised within the loving arms of the Church. Yet surrounding him was the political chaos and bloodshed of the Idi Amin regime. Jeronymos attended Kasaka Primary School, Chwa II Memorial College and Kololo Senior Secondary School. He was very close to Metropolitan Theodoros (Nankyamas) of Uganda and stayed at the Mission Center in Namungona for seven years where he learned the Orthodox way of life as a young teen.
Jeronymos's dedication, his quiet demeanor and spiritual depth were obvious to all and he was sent by Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos, now the Archbishop of Albania, to study at the School of Theology of the University of Athens in Greece. Jeronymos graduated in 1996 with a B.Th. degree and then continued further studies in canon law. He was ordained to the diaconate on July 1, 1995 by His Grace, Bishop Theodoros Kyrineos, now the Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, and then to the priesthood on February 1, 1996 by Metropolitan Iakovos of Argos. He returned to Uganda where he served as the Vicar General of Kampala for a year and then was assigned to serve as Vicar General of the Diocese of Bukoba in Tanzania, 1997-1999.
Elevated to the office of Bishop to serve the newly established Diocese of Bukoba on December 11, 1999 by the late Patriarch Petros of Alexandria, Bishop Jeronymos has worked hard to grow the Orthodox Church in Tanzania. New churches continue to be built, a seminary has been established and regular youth and women's seminars enrich the faith of the new believers. Through this strengthening of their faith, people then reach out to bring others into the life of the Church. Fluent in Greek, English, Swahili, Kiganda and Kisogha, Bishop Jeronymos has been successful in building bridges with Orthodox Christians from all over the world.
In recognition of his pastoral and missionary work, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria elevated Bishop Jeronymos to the rank of Metropolitan of Mwanza on November 23, 2007.
More in The Orthodox Church in Tanzania
News & articles from Orthodox Diocese of Mwanza here.
Innocent (Byakatonda) of Bujumbura
Video from Istorie Religie Civilizatii TVR Romania
His Grace Bishop Innocent (Byakatonda) of Bujumbura, also Innokentios of Bujumbura, is the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Burundi and Rwanda under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.
At the November 21, 2012 Fall meeting of the Holy Synod of the Church of Alexandria Archimandrite Innocent (Byakatonda), an Ugandan Orthodox clergyman who had been serving at the Cathedral of Ss. Cosmas and Damian in Nairobi, Kenya, was elected Bishop of Bujumbura.
Note of our weblog: The new bishop fights full of love for his tormented people. This is why the Orthodox Church in Rwanda and Burundi is growing fast.
See here for news & articles from the Orthodox Diocese of Burundi & Rwanda.
In Facebook here.
Neophytos Kongai, bishop of Nitria
In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa
Photo from here
His Grace the Auxiliary Bishop of Vereniki Neophytos Kongai was born in 1970 in the village of Kesengei, in the Nandi district of Kenya. He holds a degree from the “Archbishop Makarios III” Patriarchal Academy in Kenya. He was ordained Deacon on 13 September 1998 and Priest on 27 of the same month from the then Metropolitan Seraphim of Kenya, now of Zimbabwe and Angola. He served in parishes in Nairobi and at the Patriarchal Academy there as Deputy Principal. On 27 February 2005, he was consecrated as Archimandrite by His Eminence Makarios of Kenya.
In the same year he was awarded a post graduate title in Theological Studies from the Theological College of the Holy Cross in Boston. In 2007 he was tonsured a monk at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in Veroia. He is a candidate for a Doctorate in Pastoral Theology, with a scholarship from the Aristoteleian University of Thessaloniki. On 26 November 2014, proposed by His Beatitude, he was elected by the Holy Synod as Auxiliary Bishop of the once brilliant Diocese of Nitria.
Note of our weblog: The "Auxiliary Bishop" has the same degree of priesthood by the bishop. But the area of his responsibility belongs to another, larger Metropolitanate.
November 25, 2015:
3 Orthodox Dioceses in Kenya (see here)...
Photo from here
African Orthodox Church of Kenya
"By the Grace of God the Pope and the Patriarch of all Africa Theodoros II and the members of the Holy Synod on 24/11/2015 unanimously elected Archbishop Makarios as Metropolitan of Nairobi and Ex arch of of the Whole of Kenya, Bishop Neofitos Kongai as Bishop of Nyeri-Eastern Kenya. In the same spirit Fr. Archimandrite Athanasios Akunda was elected Bishop of Kisumu-Western Kenya. We are humbled as we thank the holy Synod of our beloved Patriarchate for this great gift to the Church of Kenya and all Africa. we thank you for your prayers and support. Pray for us."
About Metropolitan Narkissos of Nubia (from Jordan)
Curriculum Vitae of His Eminence Metropolitan Narkissos of Nubia (from here)
The Elected Metropolitan Narkissos of Nubia, born Samer Gammoh, was born in 1968 in Amman, Jordan,where he completed his schooling at the National Orthodox School. He holds a degree from the Theological faculty of the Universtiy of Athens (1988-1992), where he also completed post-graduate studies in Dogmatic History (1992-1994). He was tonsured a monk on 14/2/1994 by the late Metropolitan Iakovos (Gkinis) of Nicaea. He was ordained Deacon by the same Metropolitan on 15 February 1994 and as Priest by Metropolitan Vartholomaios of Megara on 11 June 1994 at the Holy Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Megara where he served for 16 consecutive years as Parish Priest and Preacher. Seconded to the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa by His Beatitude Theodoros II Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria on 16/6/2009, he went on to serve at the Patriarchal Monastery of St Savvas the Sanctified where he lived and as Principal of the “St Athanasios” Pariarchal Academy in Alexandria. At the same time he was Secretary for Arabic issues at the Chief Secretariat of the Patriarchate, Preacher and in charge of the catechetical work of the Arabic speaking parishes in Alexandria. On 23rd November 2013 proposed by His Beatitude, he was unanimously elected as Metropolitan of Nubia.
News & articles from Orthodox Diocese of Nubia here.
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
KUTAFUTA IMANI LAKUNYOLOKA – AMA KI ORTHODOKSI
African Orthodox Priests