USPG marks the passing of Bishop Ellinah

First published on: 2nd February 2021

USPG marks the tragic passing of Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya on 19th January 2021, after contracting Covid-19.


Bishop Ellinah was ordained in 2005 and consecrated bishop in 2012, the first woman bishop in Africa, leading the Diocese of Swaziland in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She touched profoundly all who met her and she embodied all that good leadership should – an abiding passion for issues of justice and equity, compassion for all and the ability to inspire and motivate others. 


Committed to living in peace with the environment, speaking out against issues of injustice driving rapid climate change, she led the call for the next Lambeth Conference to have at the top of its agenda the issues of ecological justice. At a meeting of ‘eco-bishops’ in 2018, and as Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Bishop Ellinah said:


“I therefore commission you my brothers and sisters in the words of Erhard Arnold (sic) to adhere to Jesus Justice that is better than that of all moralists and theologians, better than that of all socialists, communists and pacifists. For in it flows the sap of a living plant, the peace of the future, the strength of salt. Let us go and embrace the light from God’s heart that shines out as a beacon from the city on the hill, whose towers proclaim freedom, unity and surrender. Let’s go and do to the environment as we would like done unto us. Amen.”


Bishop Ellinah spoke out against gender based violence, using her power to challenge those who abused theirs. Her local action in her own diocese was never over shadowed by her global influence and she remained dedicated to local concerns and empowering those within her care.  She led by example.


In a powerful homily at Bishop Ellinah’s funeral service on 23rd January, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated: “Her leadership on the environment also testified to her generosity of spirit because one cannot be immersed in issues of environmental justice without being committed to gender justice, to economic justice, to racial justice and to overturning the other injustices that dehumanise people.”


Bishop Ellinah was a presence of calm and wisdom amidst myriad challenges among her own context and globally. She had an ability to hold all things in balance and navigate a way through despite many obstacles, always seeking solutions and building consensus.  USPG was honoured to have Bishop Ellinah preach at the USPG closing Conference Eucharist in June 2019. She was respected and a dear friend of many of us. USPG expresses deep and sincere condolences to Bishop Ellinah’s husband Okwaro Henry Wamukoya, their family, diocese and the whole of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Above: Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya (centre) with members of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network