Watoto church has vowed to stick to the procedures that guide the marriages conducted by the church which they say is an expression of their constitutional right.
Last week, one of the dailies carried a story reporting that an aggrieved person identified as Mr Micheal Aboneka had filed a petition in the Constitutional court challenging Watoto church’s ‘stringent’ requirements needed to have him wedded.
Aboneka claims that he booked for his wedding to be held at Watoto North Ntinda in October this year, one of the church’s celebrations points.
But to his dismay, he was asked as a precondition by the church to provide a letter of consent (blessing) from the parents of the bride-to-be and a pastor’s endorsement of fitness for marriage.
According to Aboneka, the letter of blessing from the bride’s parents or guardians is a violation of his right to free will and consent to marriage as guaranteed by the constitution of Uganda.
Watoto further asked him to provide evidence of HIV status tested at one of the specified hospitals and a counselling report issued by the respective hospital.
Other requiremets include Shs 450,000 as wedding fees, booking a wedding date at least six months in advance, mandatory wedding rehearsals supervised by the pastor a week before the wedding day, pastoral counselling sessions (atleast four) before the wedding.
The couple must also undergo group premarital counselling classes to be completed at least two months to the wedding.
Aboneka wants the court to annul all marriages the church has conducted under the same requirements and declare these requirements irregular, unfounded in law, unconstitutional.
In addition, he also wants the court to restrain all churches and mosques from making similar requirements.
The petition sparked debate with divided opinion on the matter, some sections of the public supporting Aboneka while others defended Watoto as having institutional rules that must be followed.
On Sunday, Watoto church leadership issued a statement responding to the issue, noting that they had already engaged their lawyers to look into this matter.
The church however said it is committed to stand by the guidelines and constitution that guide its holy matrimony.
“We shall continue to conduct out marriages in line with our marriage guidelines and our church constitution,” read a statement which one of the pastors at Watoto church Entebbe read to the congregation on Sunday.
“We believe this is an expression of freedom of worship as guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic,” it added.
Watoto, one of Uganda’s pioneering Pentecostal churches says that it isn’t mandatory for anyone to exchange vows at Watoto.
But for those intending to get married at Watoto, the leadership said, “we are committed to do whatever we have to pastorally prepare you for this noble gift of a God ordained marriage”.
“We are also committed to help you build strong healthy and happy families because you matter,” the statement added.