Alan Galpin – Thanksgiving Service 2018

During my most recent trip to Uganda, we have the privilege of attending and participating in a service of thanksgiving for the work my grandfather, Alan Galpin. Alan served in Uganda, with my grandmother Catherine, until his death in 1980. Toward the end of his tenure, he took over as principal of Bishop Tuckers Theological College (now Uganda Christian University (UCU)). 

Now, in 2018, the university serves around 13,000 students across multiple colleges. It is rated second in all of Uganda, and considered the top private institute. Employers take graduates from UCU because of the values they instil within them, alongside their specialisms. In a world still rife with corruption, my grandfather would be so proud that students at UCU are employed because of their honesty and integrity.

The video below includes the main speeches of the service and some of the liturgy used. This includes people who knew, worked with, or have been impacted by my grandfather and grandmother during their service. As well as a few who have been impacted by their legacy.

But perhaps most important of all, I hope that my grandfathers legacy will continue to point people towards the One he did it all for. The very reason for him being there in the first place, and the One whom he now gets to spend all his time with.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Apologies for the unsteady hand in places!

Transcript: Reflection on Alan’s life

Written by Catherine Galpin (Alan’s wife) and Jeremy Galpin (Alan’s son). Read by Ryan and Andrew Galpin (Jeremy’s sons, Alan’s grandsons).

Video starts at 5:50.

Andy: My grandfather Alan and grandmother Catharine arrived in around 1972 at Mukono at the request of the then Archbishop Janani Luwum. Alan came initially as Chaplain as well as teaching at what was then Bishop Tucker Theological College.

My grandfather Alan and grandmother Catharine arrived in around 1972 at Mukono at the request of the then Archbishop Janani Luwum. Alan came initially as Chaplain as well as teaching at what was then Bishop Tucker Theological College.

Ryan: Catharine has shared a number of memories with me that I’m sure you will enjoy me sharing with you! When Alan arrived he was keen to improve the worship experience in chapel and suggested the introduction of drums the students were initially appalled at this suggestion! However, over time, just like in many churches, drums have become part of the worship at the college. It’s a common interest I share with my grandfather as a drummer myself!

Andy:Catharine recalls walking across from the church to the main hall on graduation day with Alan. Alan said to her ‘brace yourself for a shock’. My grandmother turned to him and ask asked “what is it? You have to tell me!”. He then went on to explain that the Bishop had asked him to take over as principal of the college.

It is important of course to remember that this was a very difficult time in Uganda with Idi Amin being a significant threat to the church and in particular to Ugandans. This was not a good time for the college being without leadership. 

Alan agreed on one condition. And that was that he be appointed only as ‘acting principal’ so that it would be clear that the college would continue to look for a Ugandan Principal which he believed was the right thing to do. He did not aspire the top job preferring to serve a Ugandan leading the institute. However, the fact that you are here today is testimony to his leadership during that season; and it was a my pleasure to spend some time with Bishop Eliphaz last time I was here, who took over from Alan when he passed away.

Ryan: Catharine has fond memories of working in the ordinand’s village during her time here serving with Alan. She worked teaching the ordinands wives key skills such as first aid, English and dress making. She loved the partnership with the staff and in particular her work with Eunice maari running Sunday school and starting the clinic.

Andy: When Obote was deposed by Idi Amin there was a period of war as I am sure many of you will remember. The college had to be evacuated and Catharine fled to Kenya where the children (Jeremy, Bridget and Mark) were at school. Instead of going with her, Alan chose to remain at the college. During that time there was no communication available, so it was a difficult time and a huge relief when Alan appeared unexpectedly in Kenya to re-join the family.

Ryan:On their return There was much less damage to the college than was feared and that is now part of your history here at UCU. The only thing that my grandmother, Catharine, says was taken from their home was her ancient but reliable ‘singer sowing machine!’

Andy:Alan died very unexpectedly in February 1980 after an operation. However, the legacy of his service lives on in the lives of the people he served, including some of you here today. It is an immense blessing to continue to meet some of those people in different places across the world. Most recently, my uncle Mark met someone in the Philippines at an international conference on the ‘Micah challenge’.

Ryan:Catharine sends her greetings along with those of her children, and her love to each of you today, and of course we bring our greetings as two of her seven grandchildren! We are so thankful to the staff at UCU for allowing us this time to remember our grandfather. We never had the privilege of meeting him in person, but his memory lives on in the lives of those he touched, and through meeting with them it gives us a small insight into to the kind of person he was and all God achieved through his life.

Thank you for sharing this time with us today.

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