Confirmation at Kiwoko with Bishop Eridard

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Sun, 31 May 2015 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

About 30 years ago I was confirmed by Bishop Robin Eames.

I confess to not being quite sure of the date, but I do remember a fairly sombre, but good, evening in Ballyholme with about 25 of my contemporaries, most of whom I have lost touch with, but many of whom, as far as I know, are not involved much with church anymore.

Over the years I have enjoyed various confirmation services at Ballyholme and in Kiwoko. Today was the latest – and what an excellent day.

[Sorry for those who didn’t enjoy the last blog – some from the same stable coming…]

Today we hosted our new bishop (referred to as the ‘Mugole’, a term usually used here for newlyweds) for our confirmation service. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and, as happens on these occasions, I was reminded of my own confirmation a few years ago.

The service was meant to start at 10am. We went on time as the new bishop is famed for his good timekeeping. True enough, he arrived at 10, driving up the avenue of the banana leaves placed there yesterday, accompanied by frenzied drumming and dancing from the primary school children. But of course the preceding service wasn’t finished and so we had to wait a little.

We sat outside under the shade of a tarpaulin strung between some of the unfinished extension to St John’s church enjoying the slight breeze. Before the service began properly, Denise, Gideon and I were beckoned inside to sit close to the front of the church – we were too important to sit outside in the minds of some. Despite missing the breeze, when the torrential rain began just before communion, I was grateful for having been ushered inside. Those under most tarpaulins were dripped upon significantly through the many holes. Those under the new tarpaulin without holes got quite a surprise when the strings holding it up were unable to support the weight of water upon it and so it suddenly gave way drenching all underneath. We all had to shuffle our chairs together as the number of people in the building doubled.

After the bishop’s address (from Psalm 119, about the importance of us using God’s word and then from John, about Nicodemus being born again – simple yet critical and well communicated messages), he finished with an invitation for any who wished to respond. Most of the 120 confirmation candidates and some relatives and friends ended up surrounding the bishop at the front. I am not sure my Bishop Eames (or most of us in Ballyholme) would have been quite so comfortable with the exuberant Ugandan chaos that ensued for 5 minutes?

The collection took longer than even the longest Ugandan Hymn I have ever sung, so after repeating the chorus 5 times at the end, the lay reader Samuel took off into free style Lugandan worship. The candidates loved it and before too long there was dancing, jumping and frantic Bible waving. Just great. I suspect Marzden (a lay reader from Ballyholme) could certainly have given a similar effort at my confirmation given half the chance, but I don’t think that we 13-year-old Bangor boys would have gone with it quite so well.

It is fortunate that the rain coincided with the communion part of the service – with the heavy rain on the tin roof it was quite impossible to hear anyone speaking in the building.

Thankfully by the time the service was over, the sun was drying everything up nicely and so photos outside were in order. I have a copy of my formal photo somewhere of my confirmation – taken in the church hall, some of us sitting and others carefully balanced in rows behind. The organisation to manage that with 120 youngsters would be beyond most, so it was simpler just to have the bishop and his entourage wait outside for photos with whoever wanted, until they had had enough and off we went for lunch (at 4pm.)

I was accidentally in the way as they headed for lunch so found myself eating some of the best Ugandan food I have ever enjoyed at the top table. Denise and Gideon had given up several hours earlier (a 6-hour service being beyond Gideon’s enjoyment still), though all of the 500 people present enjoyed a big feast – Mothers’ Union cooking all night over open fires is pretty impressive really. Afterwards, I gave one of the clergy a lift home and passed some of the candidates waking home – 7 miles away! I think if any of us had to walk 7 miles to get to and from our confirmation we might have missed the service!

So a jolly day all in all.

If you find yourself enjoying it with us next year, then be careful which tarpaulin you choose to sit underneath.


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