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PHOTOS: From Stage to Enthusiasm, Inside Watoto’s Big-40 Celebrations at Kololo

Thousands of Watoto Faithful at the Church's 40th Anniversary at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala on Sunday, June 23, 2024

Kampala, (UG):- Watoto Church, formerly KPC, one of the oldest Pentecostal churches in Uganda Sunday celebrated its 40 years of spreading the Gospel, reaching out to orphans and the underprivileged since its establishment in 1984.

By 8 am on the morning, hundreds were already flooding Kololo Ceremonial Grounds to mark the Church’s 40th year of existence, celebrated under the theme “Awesome God, Do it Again.”

The Church, known for its exquisite touch when it comes to organizing outdoor events, didn’t disappoint either. Checkpoints at all entrance gates of Kololo were carefully manned by ushers and soldiers nearby to ensure the security and safety of the faithful stood out to the top-notch.

Along the many walkways inside the grounds, another set of waiting ushers were cheerfully welcoming the faithful to the ‘’Big40’’ day-long event, with the main service kicking off at 11:20 am with a praise and worship session as the church’s custom.

This time, however, the session was led by guest artistes Bethany Music from Louisiana, United States, in unison with the Watoto Church Worship team, as the congregation embarked on an all-day event of activities at the Grounds.

A member of Bethany Music performs during the Praise and Worship session at Watoto’s big 40 celebrations at Kololo

As the sun shone bright light throughout the open space, umbrellas were all over the place, of course, as the church had earlier advised in its preparation announcements leading to the day.

Those who did carry umbrellas, or shades or arrived midway the service, were advised to sit in the pavilion, while others embraced the hotness of the sun rays throughout the day.

From stage setup to the seating arrangement, crowd control, photo booths, children’s play areas, and on-form dancers, including the children’s ministry and choirs, among others, it was a true reflection of weeks, if not, months of brainwork and thorough preparations by the church.

The First Lady, Hon Janet Kataha Museveni, the Chief Guest at Kololo highlighted the Church’s achievements, whose unique gospel has changed the lives of many Ugandans, especially youths.

“You have achieved outstanding results, in greatly improving the lives of the people of this country. “You have rescued and cared for more than 5,500 orphans. You have raised them in a family setting and taught them to be Godly and productive citizens,” Mama Janet said in a speech she read to to tens of thousands of faithful.

Watoto Church Team Leader, Pastor Julius Rwotlonyo (L) and First Lady Mama Janet Museveni cut the cake to mark 40 years of Watoto Church in Uganda

Mrs Museveni also commended the church for empowering more than 6,500 vulnerable women with vocational and entrepreneurial skills, providing them with start-up capital and instilling Godly values. 

By improving the lives of women, she said the church has continually “indirectly bettered the lives of countless children.”

Retired Church of Uganda Archbishop, Rt Rev Henry Luke Orombi the preacher of the day heaped massive praises on Watoto Church founders Gary, 71, and wife, Marilyn Skinner, 69, for passing on leadership to the next generation of leaders, urging other leaders in the country to embrace the same.

Watoto Church faithful in awe of praise as the church celebrated its 40-year birthday in Uganda

The Canadian missionaries on February 3, 2023, retired from leading Watoto Church and passed over leadership to Pastors Julius and Vernita Rwotlonyo.

Rev Orombi also hailed Pastor Gary for being an exemplary leader who walked in the shoes of humility and integrity throughout the 40-year journey at the helm of the Kampala Pentecostal Church (as it is formerly known). The former Archbishop, however, castigated the corruption acts which he said are plaguing the country and depriving quality service delivery to the common Ugandan.

“This country is limping because of corrupt people who are robbing the money and resources of this country but you have given them a clear example and I believe that many of the leaders will see that from you,” Rev Orombi preached, before asking God to enable a peaceful leadership transition in Uganda, inspired by the smooth transition within Watoto Church.

“My prayer for our country is that may God grant our country a peaceful transition, in leadership. Why? We must preserve the gains we have for the next generation. It is possible.”

Pastor Julius Rwotlonyo speaks to the congregation at Watoto’s 40-year celebrations at Kololo

The Founding Pastors, Gary and Marilyn Skinner expressed their desire to be remembered for serving the generation and inspiring the next but affirmed that, despite stepping down from church leadership, the best is yet to come for Watoto.

The Big 40 event concluded at 8 pm when the praise rally, featured by Canadian singing group Bethany Music, the Watoto Worship Academy and Children’s Choir, and local gospel artistes Brian Lubega, and Sam Kimera, among others gave the faithful a non-stop four-hour session of praise and worship at a fully-packed Kololo grounds.

More Photos below

Watoto, founded in 1984, currently boasts of three children villages; Suubi (on Masaka Road), Bbira (on Mityana Road) and Laminadera in northern Uganda (Omoro District). In all these three villages, the church offers food, clothing, medical care, and education to the orphaned and disadvantaged children, most of whom are picked from the streets and others abandoned by their parents/guardians. 

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