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Government worried on the mushrooming churches

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Every church that seeks to conduct a marriage in the country must be registered, known by the government and licensed, Fiona Bayiga, a director with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), has said. Bayiga told journalists that there are about 3,000 registered churches, but the number of unregistered churches is twice that number.

They conduct weddings, which is illegal, she said.

 “If your church isn’t licensed and you are wedding couples, you are doing it against the law and those marriages are not recognised in the laws of Uganda. The number of registered churches does not represent all the churches that we have in the country, so we have more unlicensed churches,” Bayiga said.

She advised people seeking to be wed to first investigate whether their preferred churches are registered.

“Everybody who intends to get married in a church should inquire if the church is registered. If they do not have evidence, they canmake a search in the marriage register. In Mbarara, they can go to Mbarara offices, where the search is done at sh 25,000,” Bayiga added.

 She said marriage registration is done by churches and mosques and part of the church fees should include the registration fee. The law requires that every church that seeks to conduct a marriage must be licensed. It is also a statutory requirement for every licensed and gazetted church conducting marriages to submit a monthly return of each marriage celebrated before the 10th day of the next month, byway of filing a Form F as indicated in the schedules.

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Bayiga said URSB registers all marriages that are recognised by the laws of Uganda. She cautioned unregistered churches wedding couples,saying that they are doing a disservice to the people. Bayiga added that a registration certificate costs sh200,000. She challenged churches conducting fancy marriages which are not recognised to stop doing so. Bayiga made the remarks on Friday while visiting some of the churches in Mbarara Municipality,which have responded to the call of legalising the celebrations of marriages and licensed their churches.

On the same day, they delivered gifts to churches in appreciation of their efforts to comply with the law. This was during the annual fifth Corporate Social Responsibility week organised by URSB at Boma Grounds in Mbarara town.

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The theme of event was A better community is our responsibility,which resonates with one of URBS’s core values of teamwork. Speaking at the launch of the event, the acting registrar general, Caroline Egesa, said URSB is committed to continue working with government ministries, departments and Agencies within the region and private sector to jointly deliver services tothe community.

Different companies exhibited products at the event. Benard Bampata Kakuru, the Bishop of the Seventh Day Adventist Church for southwestern Uganda, appreciated URSB for helping them register their churches and appealed to other churches that have not yet begun the process of registration to do so. Lubega Twaha, the senior registration officer at URSB, Mbarara, also urged business people in the region to register their businesses