“Every bar should become a church and every bar man, a pastor,” the senior Pastor of Worship Harvest Ministries, Moses Mukisa, once said
A day of hymns of Praise and worship, along with an elongated sermon and testimonies are normally the compositions of a traditional Sunday service. Despite the different chronologies of each faith, they all believe in one God.
Most Ugandans were brought up to revere that day of the week when they go to church to worship and pray to the creator. They dress modestly, remorsefully repent their sins, meditate upon their lives throughout the week, and walk bending in humility almost touching the ground.
Mini-skirts, shaggy hair, dreadlocks and tattered jeans are a misfit wear to the sanctified ground. Ideally church is holy ground, a place of adoration and one’s appearance is supposed to conform to that; “Sunday wear and behavior”.
This tradition is gradually fading as the world becomes more liberated. Perhaps liberation has also entered the church of God. Bars, cinemas, coffee shops and major auditoriums have become the new venues for churches in Kampala.
Juliet Atim narrates her first experience in a non-traditional church; “When my friend invited me to a church called Worship Harvest,I was surprised that we would meet at Kati-kati. I have always known that place to be a bar. I was hesitant to go but later did and I never regretted.”
According to Atim, she was alien to fun in church, “It was the first time I saw old men in jeans and sandals and the pastors being called by name and nick-names without the title pastor. I just could not tell the difference if I’d gone out to have fun with friends or church to pray,” Atim added.
At worship Harvest, they have a slogan that church begins on Monday and Sunday is garage time. During the week days, everyone is expected to share the gospel in deeds and words wherever they are, and then Sunday is more celebration with the rest of the congregation.
The church’s branches are stationed at Kati- Kati bar &Restaurant, Lotus in Entebbe, Travel Hotel in Jinja and Kasangati Recreation center in Gayaza. The main church building is still under construction in Naalya.
Beatrice Byemanzi, a leader at Worship Harvest at Kati- Kati says,” We didn’t choose a bar at the beginning. We had failed to pay rent for Shs30,000 at our initial place but later God blessed us. The management at Kati- Kati gave us space and we are able to pay over a million shilling per week for rent.”
“Besides God being everywhere, he dwells in us and church is where you are. Nowadays church has become a sign post for only the clean to come in. However, Worship Harvest church is full of neglects who are thrown out of their churches because they are pregnant or don’t want church,” Byemanzi added.
The most common question people ask themselves is what matters? Is it the place of meeting or people? What really makes church?
The Arch-Bishop of the Church of Uganda, the most Revered Stanley Ntagali, says church is where people who believe in God assemble to fellowship. It is not a building but rather the people. According to Ntagali, the early church did not have cathedrals but used to meet in people’s homes.
“The building can go and God’s people will remain. The important thing is God’s people assembling to worship,” Ntagali said.
However some people find it strange and awkward to pray from a bar because it is associated with mischievous behaviors.
“A church is a holy ground of worship. It shouldn’t be associated with anything unrighteous unto the Lord. The traditional church is being changed to dubious acts,” said Woman leader at Luwafu fellowship cell.
Gerald Businge, a Lecturer at Makerere University, prefers to a designated place of worship known as a church. He agrees to thefact that God is everywhere as long as there is a minister or leader. Although it should be like once in a while if it’s in the bar.
Worship Harvest it is associated with a corporate kind of people who enjoy rock Christian music and have no defined dress code;crazy hair, the men can wear shorts and sandals, and ladies in jean trousers. The church greatly depicts the saying “come as you are”.
Cooper Abrams, a missionary pastor and church planter of Calvary Baptist Church, in one of his online teachings said “We learn in God’s word that fellowship is a heart issue, something to be felt and expressed, and something very important to be a part of. It should occur apart from any program, schedule, or activity.”