Bethel chapel is nestled on Biku Hill 18 km drive from Nebbi Town in Uganda and recognized as the world’s smallest church. It was discovered by two UN officials, Solomon Oleny and Miburu, during their mission. This petite architectural marvel holds pride in Uganda’s heritage.
The church was constructed in 1996 and named after retired Ugandan Arch-Bishop Orombi Henry Luke and Korean figure Song, the Chapel is renowned for its outstanding design. This religious sanctuary has a distinctive purpose, accommodating only three individuals, including the preacher. This emphasizes an intimate and personal connection with spirituality.
Construction and Features on the church
Bethel church was constructed with 79 bags of cement with an intention of lasting for 500 years, it has 10 prayer points each having a different symbol giving people a chance to pray for different things as well as meditating. The first prayer point is located at the top of the hill where a big cross lies and it’s where the prayers start. The second is a Lilliputian building that is constructed in memory of Jesus christ. The building has 12 windows in the east and west that represent the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ and the place always receives pilgrims that come from Sudan, Rwanda, DRC, Kenya and Tanzania. Further, at this same point one is able to have views of Namrwodho falls which harbors a number of shoebill stork
The prayer point three was crafted in the shape of a map of Africa and it has two entrances and 10 windows symbolizing the ten commandments of God. This point converges islamic believers and other religions that come to praise the Lord.
Prayer points 4,5 and 6 are stationed in the quiet garden as the prayer point 4 was constructed in the heart with a cross formed by 33 stones that represent the 33 years of Jesus christ.
The prayer point 5 was crafted in the form of an arrow head symbolizing the speed of the youth and it has 66 windows which represent the 66 books in the bible as the 39 books from the old testament and the 27 in the new testament. The point has three doors crafted inform of a standing man, this represents those who are well equipped with the gods word
The sixth point was constructed in the altar shape with rough stones on the cross; this represents the living testimony that the church is a living offering to Christ’s mission and the stones justify that christians are living stones.
The prayer point 7 was constructed in the globe shape and is located at the back of rock with an open-end cave as the base. In case one wants to pray from here, you have to crawl from one side to another which symbolises Christ’s suffering. While crawling, one crawls in the cave’s darkness experiencing terrifying thoughts and this takes about five minutes.
The eighth point demonstrates the smallest church in the world, Bethel church has 12 windows at the entrance which represent the 12 stones of Aaron breast (12 tribes of all saints). There are seven beams on the ceiling of the church that are used to demonstrate the seven colors of rainbow. The rainbow in the bible represents God’s covenant of not not destroying the world again with floods. The window on the east offers a view to the cross that is placed on top offering an opportunity to christians to look up to Jesus. The midpoint of the church is purposely for spiritual healing for people who come to meet God in a unique way to get vision for their future and become the behold soldiers of gospel. The prayer point was built in the womb shape along the main chapel and it’s the smallest of all. However, it is not accessed by the clergy and tourists as well. This chapel indeed holds the title of the world’s tiniest church with a capacity for only three people including the priest. It surpasses the renowned Living Water Wayside Chapel in Canada which was previously mistaken for the smallest church. The Canadian chapel, along the Niagara River in Ontario was built by the Christian Reformed Church in 1969 and can accommodate six people.
However, the Guinness Book of World Records, acknowledged the Canadian chapel, might need to reconsider its standings in light of the recent discovery of the smallest church in Uganda
How the smallest church was discovered
As Solomon Oleny, Miburu, and their companion Godfred ascended Biku Hill during a UN mission, they unexpectedly stumbled upon the Chapel that was situated on top of the hill. The humble stone-built structure standing 8 ft tall and 2.5 meters wide caught their attention. The chapel is an integral part of a prayer center on the mountain that is designed to foster a unique relationship between Christians and God by offering a secluded space for personal worship.
Uganda has become a destination for religious tourism, with the Chapel on Biku Hill serving as a focal point for Christians seeking moments of prayer and reflection. Its tranquil setting and symbolic humility draw numerous visitors, creating a sacred space for spiritual contemplation.
The Chapel has played a significant role in popularizing religious tourism in Uganda. It retraces the steps of the martyrs from Busega to Munyonyo, passing through Natete and Kisenyi, offering a historical and spiritual journey for those who visit.