Bishop Gerald McAllister Memorial Service


FEBRUARY 16, 1923 – JUNE 10, 2014

School holds Memorial Service for Bishop Gerald McAllister

By Tr. Assimwe Alex

It was an occasion of intense reflection and yet one of explicit gratitude at St. John, the Evangelist Chapel as the school held a memorial service in honour of the late Bishop Gerald McAllister on Wednesday 30th July 2014. Bishop Gerald McAllister, the man after whom our school got its name, was a former Bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma whose incredible magnanimity helped to seal a bond between him and the Christians of West Ankole Diocese. His generous contribution and vision saw this institution start as a centre for theological studies and music courses. As one way of expressing their gratitude, West Ankole Diocese asked him to allow them to name the school after him. He assented to this request, and since 1982, we have lived under the name Bishop McAllister College. He passed away on June 10th, 2014 in his home country, United States of America at the age of 91 years. 

The chapel was full and even the tents erected on either side of it to accommodate a congregation spillover were packed out. All students, members of staff, some members of the neighbouring community, and a section of Sheema District leaders came to join in the reflection on the life of our friend and the void his demise had occasioned. Most importantly, it was about saying a big ‘thank you’ to the Lord for having blessed us with such a friend.

West Ankole Diocese head, Bishop Yonah Katonene, led the service, and asked everyone attending to emulate Bishop McAllister. He noted that his philanthropy had given hope and life to scores of Christians who lived under the grim shackles of poverty in West Ankole. “If an American man like McAllister could be this good to our people, why shouldn’t we feel challenged and be inspired to do a lot more in our lives?” the bishop queried. He went on to explain the fortuitous meeting of Bishop Yoram Bamunoba with Bishop McAllister at the 1979 Lambeth Conference in London. “It was during the last days of President Amin’s brutal rule and Bishop Bamunoba was worried about the turmoil in his land. It was a very unsafe place especially for Christian leaders, and now he was sad fearing they would maybe catch him on his return. Bishop McAllister was concerned as he looked at the forlorn figure of Bishop Bamunoba under a tree. It was there that the two met and it was there that the friendship between West Ankole and the Diocese of Oklahoma would start and blossom. … And as Christians, we don’t believe that was just by chance. We see God right there.” The Bishop referred the congregation to 2Timothy 4:6-8 to explain how Bishop McAllister had run his race and remained faithful to God through all his good deeds. He urged us to finish our races and look to the ultimate prize.

The mood in the chapel see-sawed from sombre to mildly joyful as various people paid tribute to this man of great Christian character. The most effusive eulogy was made by the evergreen Rev.Fr. Elmoth Baryaruha,who said that he had seen or moved with Bishop McAllister and his wife Helen on their every visit to West Ankole Diocese. In a speech that lasted about half an hour, he called him “a gentleman of a very generous and profoundly noble character and a man of gentle humour.”  He narrated numerous episodes of their travels, fund-raising campaigns, and missions, which all underscored the extent of this man’s goodness.

The service ended at dusk, and there was no doubt that the memorial service had really achieved its purpose. The day ended with a dinner with the Bishop. We pray Bishop McAllister rests in peace!

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