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Theodoros Nankyama
c. 1924 to 1997
Orthodox
Uganda

Theodoros Nankyama was an Orthodox metropolitan of Kampala and all Uganda. Born in Tweyanze, Monde, Uganda, he was sent at age 21 to study at the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Alexandria, Egypt, first at the Kaniskerion School (1945-1948) and then at the Photios II College (1948-1954). In 1954 he went to Greece, where he graduated from the School of Theology, University of Athens (1959). In 1959 and 1960, with a World Council of Churches scholarship, he studied at Oxford University.

The Orthodox Church in Uganda was recognized by the patriarchate of Alexandria in 1946. Nankyama was ordained in Alexandria to the priesthood in 1961 and then returned to Uganda. He was elevated to the celibate rank of archimandrite in 1969, elected bishop of Navkratis by the Holy Synod of the Alexandrian patriarchate in 1972, and appointed auxiliary to the metropolitan of Irinoupolis (East Africa). He was one of the first three African Orthodox clergy elected to the episcopacy (all in 1972), and in November 1994 he became the first African elected to the rank of metropolitan.

During his tenure, Uganda suffered greatly through dictatorships and civil war. Nankyama secured numerous scholarships to send young Ugandans to Greece, Romania, and the United States. They were educated in various fields, and some are now back in Uganda, assisting in rebuilding and revitalizing the church. From his headquarters at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Namungoona, a suburb of Kampala, Nankyama continued to head the church during periods of peace and growth.

By 1993 there were 40,000 Orthodox Christians in Uganda, with twenty-two Ugandan priests (nearly all with theological degrees). The church has fifty-one parishes, the Holy Cross Medical Center, eight dispensaries, and several schools.

Dimitrios G. Couchell


Bibliography:

Theodoros Nankyama wrote numerous articles in Greek mission publications about the Orthodox Church in Uganda. Biographical information is available in the files of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, Saint Augustine, Fla., and at the Uganda Orthodox Mission Center in Kampala.


This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.