Gary Skinner is the visionary and passionate Team Leader of Watoto Ministries including the dynamic Watoto Church, which he founded together with his wife Marilyn in 1983 in the heart of Uganda’s war torn capital, Kampala.
Watoto Church is a cell based, community church with over 20,000 people gathering each weekend to celebrate Christ. Gary passionately believes it is the responsibility of the local church to solve community problems. Watoto Church cares for community holistically through 2,100 cell groups that meet in homes each week.
In 1994, Gary and Marilyn founded Watoto Child Care Ministries, an International Organization as a compassionate response to the cry of Africa’s millions of children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. Currently they are caring for over 2,600 Ugandan children in Watoto villages where every child is raised in a family setting rather than an institution. Their vision is that these children will be raised to become future leaders of Uganda and Africa.
The Watoto Children’s Choir tours the world annually as advocates for the 14 million African children currently orphaned by AIDS. “Concerts of Hope” are held in Churches, Community Halls and Schools. The choir has performed before Presidents and Royalty in the White House, Buckingham Palace and many other National Parliaments. Audiences are inspired as the children sing, dance and celebrate their story of hope.
In addition to championing the cause of the orphaned child, Watoto is committed to restoring dignity to HIV+ women, left to bear the brunt of AIDS, war and social injustice. She believes Africa’s greatest resource is her women waiting to be empowered.
More than 2,100 women have experienced an improved quality of life through Watoto’s Living Hope. Many of the women have been victims of human trafficking, abducted from their homes as little girls and distributed amongst rebel soldiers as sex slaves. Through Living Hope they are equipped with necessary life skills through vocational training and empowered through income generating projects enabling them to become productive members of the community. The comprehensive psychosocial support these women receive has given them purpose, dignity, and a future.
Gary is committed to replicating the Watoto holistic model throughout Africa, He travels internationally as an advocate for the local church, inspiring people all around the world to stop "doing" church and start "being" the church.
Gary was born in Zimbabwe to missionary parents and is a fourth generation preacher. Gary has pastored in Canada, in Zambia, and in Uganda. He is a father of three children and grandfather of four.