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Ugandan-born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu announces retirement

Robert Kayanja, the founder and Senior Pastor of the Miracle Centre Cathedral (MCC) and CEO of a christian television Channel 44 with Archbishop of York, John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu at MCC in August 2017. Courtesy Photo.

By Paul W Dennis

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and brother to Miracle Centre Cathedral – Rubaga founding Pastor, Robert Kayanja has announce his retirement date noting that the move will provide the Church of England with the “widest possible timeframe to pray, discern with wisdom and insight,” and put in place a timetable for his successor.

Sentamu will retire on 7 June 2020 – three days ahead of his 71st birthday, it was announced October 1st.

According to sources, Church of England clergy are required to retire at the age of 70, but the Queen, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has the power in her discretion to extend that for up to one year if she considers that there are special circumstances which make it desirable to do so.

The 69-year-old will take part in three pre-planned international mission events before he retires.

Sentamu, who was born in Kampala, is the most senior black and minority ethnic (BAME) cleric in the church. He was briefly imprisoned in Uganda for speaking out against Idi Amin’s regime before fleeing to the UK in 1974.

During his time as a bishop and archbishop, The Guardian reports that Sentamu has campaigned on poverty and inequality.

Earlier this year, he told the media outlet that rising inequality was a national scandal that should be addressed by a voluntary top-up tax system and a crackdown on “sinful” tax avoiders.

Sentamu said: “I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty The Queen for graciously allowing me to continue as Archbishop of York until June 2020 in order to enable me to complete the work to which I have been called.”

Before being installed as the 97th Archbishop of York in November 2005, Dr Sentamu served as Bishop of Birmingham and prior to that as Bishop of Stepney, an Area episcopacy in the Diocese of London.

He served as a lawyer in Uganda, becoming an advocate of the Supreme Court and a High Court Judge.

He was imprisoned for speaking out against former dictator Idi Amin and was threatened with death for refusing to clear one of Amin’s relatives of a crime. He managed to flee to the UK with the support of Anglican missionary Keith Sutton, who later became Bishop of Lichfield.

Sutton supported Dr Sentamu through his studies at Ridley Hall in Cambridge and, as Bishop of Kingston, Sutton appointed Sentamu to his first ordained post, as Curate of St Paul’s Church in Herne Hill, South London.

The Archbishop of York heads one of two Provinces in the Church of England and is known as the Primate of England. In contrast, the Archbishop of Canterbury is known as the Primate of All England.

Responding to today’s announcement, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told Dr Sentamu: “your devotion to Christ and service to the Church of England is something we rejoice in with great gratitude!

“Be assured of my prayers – and those of the whole Church – for you and Margaret over the coming period of transition.”

During his visit to Miracle Centre Cathedral last year, Sentamu revealed that he gave his life to Christ at the age of 10, “but for a number of years didn’t know that everyday, I had to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you know why we have to be filled with the Holy Spirit everyday? Because we daily leak.”

“Even when before he started preaching in schools, miracles were happening. When he got saved, salvation come into our house. Many things begun to break loose and miracles begun to happen for many people

“You can have religious parents but, who are not born again…He brought into the family something that helped us, especially we who were younger.” Pr Kayanja said then.

Mid 2016, Archbishop Sentamu appeared on Good Morning Britain show, where he took part in a wide-ranging debate about LGBT rights with host Piers Morgan.

The Archbishop affirmed that while he still has personal objections with same-sex marriage, he believes in LGBT equality generally, and does not consider homosexuality to be a sin.

Asked if he was discarding parts of the Bible that condemn homosexuality, he said: “The whole of scripture must be read in context, you can’t just pick up a verse and say ‘because it says this’… that would be a nightmare.”

However, he has also said he is not homophobic, and he opposes discrimination against LGBT people. “I’ve got a lot of gay friends, they see me as a friend, they see me as someone who wants to support and protect them against homophobia,” he said.

In 2007, he removed his clerical collar and cut it into pieces during an appearance on the Andrew Marr show in protest at Robert Mugabe, saying he would not replace it until the Zimbabwean president was gone. Ten years later he put a new collar round his neck in another appearance on the show, days after Mugabe was forced out.

Two years ago, the archbishop was accused of misconduct by a survivor of sexual abuse. Matthew Ineson filed a formal complaint against Sentamu and four other bishops, saying they had failed to take action over his disclosure of rape by a vicar. The complaint was dismissed on the grounds of being outside a one-year time limit.

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