2014 BISHOP'S ADDRESS

 

 

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS  PRESENTED TO THE THIRD SESSION OF THE SECOND SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF AMICHI [ANGLICAN COMMUNION] ON SATURDAY 7TH JUNE, 2014 AT IMMANUEL ANGLICAN CHURCH, EKWULUMILI.

 

T

o God be all the Glory for the great and awesome Love, Mercy and Grace He has showered on and shown to all of us by first of all preserving our lives to see this day, and for making it also possible for us to gather again in this Church for the presentation of this Presidential Address and Bishop's Charge.  Actually, as the Holy Bible rightly puts it when it said, “It is not of him that willeth, neither him that runneth, but of the Lord who showeth Mercy” [Romans 9:16].  May I at this time heartily and joyfully welcome His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano who has just taken over the mantle of leadership of this our great and dynamic state barely four months ago, and the members of the State Executive Council here present with him.  Your Excellency, as I welcome you to this Synod on behalf of the congregants of this Diocese, I also once again congratulate you on your election as the successor of Mr. Peter Obi, the immediate past Governor of Anambra State.

It is with the same gladsome heart that I humbly welcome His Grace, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi, the Archbishop of the ecclesiastical Province of the Niger and the Bishop of Aguata Diocese [Anglican Communion].  In the same vein, we welcome all Archbishops, our fathers in the Lord and Bishops; All the Royal fathers here present especially His Royal Highness, Igwe George Umeanadu of Ekwulumili, his wife, and Cabinet members; the President-General of Ekwulumili town; The Chancellor of our Diocese, Hon. Justice Gloria .C. Anulude; The Registrar, Lady Barr. Amaka Udogu and other legal luminaries of this Diocese; The president of the Diocesan Council of Knights, Dr. Sir Edwin Agbasimelo; All the Knights and their Ladies; The President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, Dame Nkem Ikeakor; The Archdeacons, Canons, other Clergymen and their wives, the Bishop's Nominees; Synod Delegates, Our Special Dignitaries and guests; the gentlemen of the Press, and indeed everybody here to this Presidential Address Presentation to the third session of the Second Synod of our Diocese holding here today at Immanuel Anglican Church, Ekwulumili.

My heart is filled with the joy of the Almighty God who has made this day a reality.  This event is principally for presenting in a very concise and articulate manner the activities that have taken place in this Diocese in the last one year.  For the journey Mercies granted to all of us gathered here, I give Praise to God from whom all Mercies flow.  May His name continually be praised and adored both now and forever in the name of God the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  Once again, you are all welcome.

OUR RESOURCE PERSONS:

We prayerfully welcome the servants of the Almighty God who will be ministering the word of God to us in this Synod.

A.      OUR GUEST PREACHER: 

Our Guest Preacher in this third session of the Second Synod is, His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. Raphael C.O. Okafor, the Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Ihiala.  Bishop Raphael .C. Okafor was born in Dogon Bauchi, Zaria on 7th August, 1946 to Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel and Fidelia Okafor from Awka-Etiti in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.  The young Raphael attended C.M.S. Central School, Awka-Etiti from where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1960 with distinction.  He went to Emmanuel College, Owerri and obtained the West African School Certificate [WASC] in 1966 with first division.  He received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour in 1965 while in the College.  He was involved briefly in the Biafran Army during the Nigerian Civil War.  Bishop Raphael was called up to study in Britain in 1972 at Elim Bible College, and later in University of London.  He obtained Diploma in Theology, and Bachelor of Divinity with honours respectively.  He returned to Nigeria in 1977 to work with the Scripture Union Nigeria as a travelling Secretary.  He became the general secretary of Scripture Union Nigeria in 1980 and remained in that position for thirteen years. He retired voluntarily in order to give more time to Church work.  Raphael went back to England in 1988 to study at Trinity College, Bristol.  He was made a deacon in 1989, and ordained a Priest in 1990.

Rt. Revd. Raphael C.O. Okafor is married to Engr. Mrs. Chinyere Uchenwa Okafor (nee Ojike) from Arondizuogu.  The marriage is blessed with five children.  He worked at Billy Graham's office in London during one of his summer holidays.  He has travelled for Conferences and Seminars to Ghana, Gambia, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, South Africa, Germany, Liberia, France, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Israel, Philippines, U.S.A., etc.  He moved to Enugu with his family in 1994.  He was preferred statutory Canon, and Archdeacon respectively by The Rt. Revd. Dr. Emmanuel .O. Chukwuma, Bishop of Enugu Diocese.  He was the Editor of Daily Guide from 1999 to 2010.  He was the state co-ordinator of AD 2000 Movement for Enugu State Committee of National Congress on Evangelization from 1981 – 2000; the chaplain for Anglican students fellowship, UNEC, Enugu; Bishop's Examining Chaplain for Enugu-North Diocese; and a member of Enugu EFAC zonal council.  Rt. Revd. Raphael Okafor was elected Bishop, and consecrated the pioneer Bishop of Anglican Diocese Ihiala on 14th May, 2008.  He has published not less than five Bible booklets.

We are very happy to welcome you to this august gathering of the people of God as a guest preacher, and we are glad that the Almighty God has been using you to bless us through His word.  Remain blessed in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

B.      OUR BIBLE STUDY LEADER:

Our Bible Study Leader and facilitator in this Synod is Revd. Canon Goddy Osita Iloka.  He is a native of Osina in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo state.  He studied Theology at St. Paul's University College, Awka; and Religion/Counseling at Enugu State University of Science and Technology [ESUT].  He was made a deacon in 2006, ordained Priest in 2009, and was preferred Canon in 2013.    He is the current home Mission director for Diocese on the Niger.  He is also the EFAC chaplain, Diocese on the Niger.  Revd. Canon Goddy Iloka is the Vicar of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, Omagba phase 2, Onitsha.  He has published many articles and books; the most current is “MARRIAGE:  A HOLISTIC APPROACH”.  He is married to Mrs. Flora Adaeze Iloka, and their marriage is blessed with children.  He is a home builder by the Grace of God.  He is being used by God to heal wounded marriages, bruised couples, and turbulent homes.  He is a seasoned, consistent, and balanced Bible teacher and expositor.  We welcome you to our Synod this year in Jesus Christ Name.  We are highly grateful to God for what He has used you to do among us through the Bible studies for these three days.

THE VENUE OF THE SYNOD:

As far back as 1913, before the coming of missionaries to Ekwulumili town, some indigenes of the town have embraced Christianity through their contact with Christians outside the town.  Such early converts included: Madam Elizabeth Nwangbafor, Daniel Ewenike, Joseph Ogudegwo, Gabriel Okonkwo, Nwokeke Ijere, Anaemena Onu Joseph Umeanoliefo, Anagbogu Samuel Ifesie, Michael Ogugboluzo Okafor, Umeanadu Umeohamalu, Reuben Okafor Okonkwo, Okoli Nwotiko, Obidelu Okoli, Anaemena Ichie, Cornellius Ojukwu, Simon Ezeonyido Obodoaku Mpi, Christopher Eriobu, Hezekiah Unegbu Egemba, Samson Okorogwugwu Ilogbene, and Asuzu Emmanuel Ebuobi.  Some of these converts attended Church services in places like Holy Trinity Church, Igboukwu, St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Amichi, St. Thomas Anglican Church, Otolo-Nnewi, while some went as far as Obosi where they attended school also.  It was these converts that paved the way for the propagation of the Gospel message in Ekwulumili town, and the subsequent establishment of Anglican Church in Ekwulumili.  The first female convert was Madam Elizabeth Nwangbafor Okafor.  She took it upon herself to be scrubbing the second and third Church buildings that were erected.  She was also acting as the Sexton of the Church.

On January 15, 1915, a team of Anglican Missionaries led by one Mr. Bracket, a West Indian Missionary arrived in Ekwulumili from Obosi.  The team was enthusiastically welcomed in Dim Ike Nsoedo Eriobu's Meeting Hall at Umudim village by the then warrant Chiefs namely:  Umeohamalu Ezeorizu of Owele-Chukwu, UmeseghaIjere of Isigwu, Ezeonyekwelu Ezeaka of Urueze, and Dim Ike Nsoedo Eriobu of Umudim.  In their maiden address, the Missionaries promised the warrant chiefs the posting of a Church cum school teacher to the town sometimes in the month of June 1915.  However, they gave two conditions which must be fulfilled before this promise could be actualized and implemented.  These conditions were:

[a]       That a Church building must be set up.

[b]       That an assessment of ten pounds [£10] be paid.

The warrant chiefs agreed to satisfy these conditions.  In his immediate and ready response, Chief Dim Ike Nsoedo provided a parcel of land out of Njo's estate where the first Church building was erected.  Later on, it was discovered that the Church building was not centrally located and convenient enough to serve all the sections of the town.  This resulted in a search for an alternative which would be easily accessible to all sections of the town.

In the same year, Chief Okonkwo Ukpaka of Etitinabo now Umuife Chukwu of Isigwu village donated a parcel of land covered by acio bush.  This bush was quickly cleared; but on inspection by the Christian delegates from Amichi, the site was rejected on the ground that the parcel of land was too small to accommodate a Church building.  The four warrant Chiefs then observed that it would not be easy to secure from an individual enough land for a Church building and that the only solution would be to acquire a large parcel of land owned communally.  Thus “Nkpukpo” owned jointly by the four villages and considered more central was chosen and approved by the warrant Chiefs.  Because of the closeness of Chief Umembanugwo's  land to “Nkpukpo” which he earlier on donated but was rejected, the warrant Chiefs approached him to still allow his parcel of land to be part of the Church premises, and which he magnanimously obliged them.  Therefore, “Nkpukpo” and the parcel of land donated by Chief Okonkwo Ukpaka of UmuifeChukwu kindred of isigwu village became the permanent site for Immanuel Anglican Church, Ekwulumili.  After the inspection of the new site by Mr. Bracket in the company of Mr. Mgbako Eriobu and its approval, he laid the foundation for the second Church building by erecting the four pillar posts on which the second Church building stood.  Soon after the completion of the Church building, the sum of ten pounds [£10] was raised through direct levy on the four villages.  Each of the four villages paid “Ukwunese” [Cowries] and all amounted to nine pounds [£9].  The deficit of one pound [£1] was made up by two warrant Chiefs – Dim Ike Nsoedo; and Umeohamalu Ezeorizu.  On receiving the ten pounds assessment from the Church, Mr. Bracket posted Mr. Nathanael Okechukwu to Ekwulumili as the first Church teacher from Uru-Ogidi.  He arrived and assumed duty in June 1915.  One of the greatest achievements of Mr. Nathanael Okechukwu was the expansion of the Church premises which the indigenes willingly allowed.  He also started the third Church building because the existing building was no longer big enough to accommodate the surging number of new converts.  This building was started in 1918, but was disrupted by the outbreak of influenza in the town which affected many of the Christian converts.

It was Mr. Fanuel Nwokolo who succeded Mr. Nathanael Okechukwu as Church teacher in 1919 that actually started the new Church building.  In 1923, Mr. Jonah Okeke of Umudim-Nnewi took over from Mr. Fanuel Nwokolo, and he completed the building.   In 1924, a Church bell was secured at the cost of fifteen pounds [£15] to replace the tom-tom that was originally in use.  The bell was brought from Ozalla Onitsha by members who carried it on their heads and trekked all the way from Onitsha to Ekwulumili.  This bell added grace and dignity to the newly completed third Church building and it is still in use in this Church till date.  In December 1926, Mr. Joseph Maduewesi of Otolo-Nnewi succeeded Mr. Isaiah Okafor whose stay was very brief.  Mr. Maduewesi tackled the project of replacing the mud pulpit, the lectern and reading desks with wooden ones.  These essential pieces of furniture were constructed at the cost of twenty pounds [£20].  During the annual general meeting of Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili on 27th December, 1973, the proposal made and motion moved for the building of a large modern Church building was unanimously accepted and supported under the chairmanship of Mr. Eric Ezeifedikwa [now late].  The building committee was immediately constituted.  There was a swift and spontaneous donation for the new project which made the building committee to swing into action with the amount raised on the spot.  This actual building work started in 1975, and on October 13, 1984 when work has reached advanced stage, the then Bishop On the Niger, The Rt. Revd. J.A. Onyemelukwe laid the foundation stone of the new edifice. 

The construction of the parsonage started in 1987.  This was completed in 1989 through donations of cash and materials from members.  On January 1, 1990 Immanuel Anglican Church Ekwulumili was made a district after the payment of five thousand naira [N5, 000. =] in 1987 as a requirement for becoming a district.  The first Superintendent was Revd. Enoch Ekpeluchi from Abatete [now late].  He assumed duty on January 8, 1990.  On the 24th of January, 1990, the then Bishop on the Niger, The Rt. Revd. J.A. Onyemelukwe came for the quadruplet function in one service of the dedication of this Church building; Inauguration of the new district; Dedication of the new Parsonage; and the institution and induction of the first Superintendent of the district.  The Immanuel Church district comprised of Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili, and Ebenezer Anglican Church, Unubi.  All the Church organizations were very functional and alive.  Immanuel Church Ekwulumili hosted her first Synod in June 2007 under Diocese of Nnewi.  Today, Immanuel Church is joyfully hosting her second Synod this time under Diocese of Amichi.  This Church has produced about seven indigenous Anglican Priests which include:  Revd. Canon Enoch Umeoranefo [Rtd.] - 1976; Revd. Peculiar Onyenwe – 2007; Revd. Odinaka Anisiobi – 2008; Revd. Philip Okafor – 2010; Revd. Nwabufo Okigwe – 2010; Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu – 2010;  and Revd. Raymond Umeh – 2011.  The Church has many Knights and Ladies, and Lay Readers.  The Women General Meeting of Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili has executed many gigantic projects in the past, and is currently sponsoring the building of a new and modern second vicarage which is nearing completion under the various leaderships of Mrs. Alice Umeudu, Lady Chibuzo Onyejike, and Mrs. Ngozi Okoli respectively.  The Church from inception has had thirty-five Church Teachers and eleven Priests of various ranks who have worked in the Church from 1915 till date.  Immanuel Church Parish is made up of Immanuel Church, St. Matthias Church, and St. Matthew's Church, Ekwulumili.  The Parish was made an Archdeaconry by His Lordship, The Rt. Revd.Ephraim .O. Ikeakor, Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Amichi, and inaugurated on 3rd July, 2011.  The pioneer Archdeacon was Ven. Godwin Okafor.  The Archeacoanry is made up of two Parishes viz: Immanuel Church Parish Ekwulumili; and All Saints' Parish Ekwulumili.  All Saints' Parish Ekwulumili was created by His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. [Prof.] G.I.N. Okpala, and he inaugurated same on January 5, 2006.  He also laid the foundation stone of the Church building of All Saints' Church, Ekwulumili on 5th January, 2005.

We must sincerely thank Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili members for accepting to host this second Synod whole-heartedly and zealously.  The contribution of each and every member is highly recognized by the Diocese and will surely be rewarded by God abundantly in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

NEWS AND EVENTS FROM CHURCH OF NIGERIA:

CHURCH OF NIGERIA STANDING COMMITTEE MEETINGS:

As customary with the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion], two Standing Committee Meetings were held within The Synod year under review.  The September Standing Committee Meeting was at St. Peter's Deanery, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State under Diocese of Niger Delta West.  The meeting held from 9th September to 14th September, 2013.  The theme of the Meeting was “Put on the whole armour of God” [Ephesians 6:11].  The meeting was actually held successfully but with mixed feelings.  This was because the Archbishop of the Province of Niger Delta, and the Dean of Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd. Ignatius Kattey was kidnapped just few days to the Standing Committee Meeting.  We continue to adore and glorify the Almighty and awesome God who answered the fervent Prayers of His Church by making his release a possibility after about ten days.  To God be all the Glory.

The second Standing Committee Meeting was hosted by the Diocese of Ibadan at The Cathedral of St. James the Great, Oke-bola, Ibadan from 17th to 22nd February, 2014.  The theme of the Standing Committee was, “Thou shall not bear false witness” [Exodus 20:16].  The full meeting was preceded by the consecration of the new Bishop of Yewa Diocese on Tuesday February 18, 2014.  The Rt. Revd. Michael Oluwaromhbi.  The hosting of both meetings was very wonderful and generally successful.  We congratulate the Bishops of Niger Delta West Diocese, and Diocese of Ibadan respectively for the good work they did.  We also thank their wives and the entire Anglican faithfuls in their Dioceses without whose supports and commitments, such huge success would not have been recorded.

GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE [GAFCON]:

The second GAFCON meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya from October 20 to October 26, 2013.  The actual venue was All Saints' Cathedral, Nairobi.  It was a gathering of all Anglican Bishops from Africa, and those who still uphold the sanctity of the Holy Bible as the Word of God, from the western world, some lay representatives including the wives of the Bishops.  Over two hundred and fifty [250] Anglican Bishops, and wives, and over one thousand five hundred lay members from across the globe were in attendance.   For effective participation and maximum spiritual benefits and productivity, the conference had Holy Eucharistic services together within which some seasoned servants of God led in the Bible Study which was on the epistle to the Ephesians.  We had six Bible studies sessions throughout the Conference.  There were a total of nine mini-conferences with different important topics from which each conferee/participant chose the topics he/she thought were relevant to him/her and his/her ministerial call and environment.  The nine mini-conference topic included:  [i] The Challenge of Islam. [ii] The work of the Holy Spirit. [iii] Marriage and Family.  [iv] Children and Youth.  [v] Gospel and Culture.  [vi] Being Women of God.  [vii] Aid and Development.  [viii] Theological Education; and [ix] Episcopal Ministry.  GAFCON according to Jerusalem Declaration in June 2008 is not just a movement in time, but a movement in the Spirit.  The Global Anglican Future Conference is a spiritual movement formed to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans received it.  The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st Century global culture.  One of the great challenges participants received in Nairobi was the practical and experiential approach adopted by the East African Anglicans in the organization of the conference.  Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy, and lay members came out before the whole participants to enthusiastically share their experiences in encountering the Lord Jesus Christ through the Gospel brought to them.  It was indeed a holistic package which brought to full glare the sacramental, liturgical, and spiritual heritage of the Anglican Church.  I can only summarize the GAFCON II experience in Kenya as greatly challenging and inspiring.  May I at this point appreciate our Primate, The Most Revd. Nicolas Okoh for making it possible for Bishops from very challenging Missionary Dioceses to be sponsored by more viable Dioceses so that no Bishop from Church of Nigeria was left out as a result of financial incapability.  Our Diocese was represented by the Bishop, his Wife, and the Clerical Synod Secretary, Ven. Henry Amobi.

2013/2014 DIVCCON:

The 2013 Divine Commonwealth Conference was held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja from 18thto 22nd November 2013.  As usual, our Diocese was fully represented by almost all the Clergy and their wives.  The Bishop and wife were also in attendance.  I want to implore our lay members to make it a point of duty to participate in future DIVCCON.  This is because this conference has become a source of inspiration and spiritual rejuvenation.  The 2014 DIVCCON will take place from 4th to 8th November, 2014 at the usual venue.  Let me at this juncture direct that every organization in the Diocese should sponsor at least one person to the Conference this November.  The Diocese will sponsor fully four young people who are students in higher institutions.  They will be seen to be very committed and serious Church members who will not waste the opportunity by going to Abuja for site-seeing.  Two males and two females will be sponsored to encourage our youths to be involved in our Church activities. The theme for last year's DIVCCON was “Go Forward” [Exodus 14:15].

2014 BISHOPS' ANNUAL RETREAT:

This is a special Retreat for the Bishops of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] which holds every January for Spiritual refreshing and empowerment of these Church fathers after a very busy and hectic end of year activities.  This year's Retreat took place from 6th to 11th January, 2014 at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha-otor.  The theme for this year's retreat was, “The Bishop: An Overseer, An Evangelist, An Administrator, and a Pastor”.  To me as a person, this was one of the best Retreats I have attended as a Bishop these few years of my episcopacy.  My hearty thanks go to our father and Primate, the Most Revd. N.D. Okoh for appointing and inviting Archbishop Peter Johnson from Australia to lead us in some practical and relevant presentations.  No small thanks for his choice of Rt. Revd. Michael Fape to lead the Bible Study.  It was far from a routine gathering and Retreat.  It was indeed a spiritual Retreat in all ramifications.

ST. MATTHIAS EVANGELISM FUND:

The fourth edition of the St. Matthias' Evangelism fund collection was held throughout Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] on Sunday 23rd February, 2014.  As expected our Diocese also participated in the exercise.  I want to commend the efforts of all the Clergy and other Church workers who made sure that it was done properly.  Our Diocese performed a little better than what she did last year because the total amount collected and remitted to Church of Nigeria was slightly higher than what was collected last year.  We continue to assert that the exercise is a worthwhile one and should be zealously supported by all and sundry.

ELECTION OF BISHOPS, AND ARCHBISHOPS:

During 2014 Episcopal Retreat, following the retirement of the Bishop of Yewa Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Simeon O.M. Adebola, a new Bishop in the person of Rt. Revd. Michael Oluwaronbi has been elected the new Bishop of the Diocese.  He was consecrated on Tuesday 18th February, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. James, the Great, Oke-bola, Ibadan.  He was enthroned on 6th March, 2014.

On 8th April, 2014 during an Episcopal meeting at the Ibru Centre Chapel, following the expiration of the first five year's tenure of the Archbishops of Kwara, Lokoja, and Enugu, elections were conducted to either re-elect them or replace them.

The Most Revd. Michael Olu Akinyemi was re-elected Archbishop of Kwara Province.

The Most Revd. Emmanuel Egbunu was re-elected the Archbishop of Lokoja Province.

The Rt. Revd. Dr. Emmanuell .O. Chukwuma was elected the new Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province.  They are to be presented in a date to be announced by the Primate.  We congratulate them and assure them of our prayers.

DEMISE OF RT. REVD. ISAAC ORAMA:

It was with a very rude shock that we received the news of the death of the Bishop of Uyo Diocese [Anglican Communion] which sad event took place in February, 2014.  He was buried on March 3, 2014.  May the Almighty God continue to console the Church of Nigeria generally, and his wife and children in particular.

 

 

NEWS FROM PROVINCE OF THE NIGER:

The Province had her Provincial Episcopal/Council meeting in September 4 and 5, 2013.  This was hosted by our Diocese at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The Bishops and their wives met on Wednesday 4th September and deliberated on a number of very important issues affecting our Province.  The Provincial Council members joined them on Thursday 5th September, 2013.  The meeting was preceded by a Eucharistic Service.  On the 12th and 13th of February

2014, another Episcopal cum Council meeting was held.  This time it was hosted by Diocese of Mbamili at The Cathedral Church of St. Michael, Umuikwu-Anam.  During the Council Meeting, our father and Archbishop, The Most Revd. Christian Efobi out of his fatherly concern appealed for financial assistance for Mbamili Diocese as they were still embarking on the re-construction of their Cathedral adversely affected by the 2012 flood disaster.  I must thank both the Archbishop, the Bishops of our Province, and the laity for their demonstration of brotherly love and care.  Our Diocese gave the sum of one million naira only [N1m] in support of the reconstruction exercise.  We thank God that the flood disaster did not occur in the year 2013.

DEDICATION OF CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. JOHN, EKWULOBIA:

His Grace, The Most Revd. Nicholas .D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Primate of all Nigeria dedicated the Ultra-modern Cathedral of St. John of Aguata Diocese on Sunday 6th October, 2013 assisted by not less than fifteen Bishops at Ekwuluobia.  May I once again congratulate our Archbishop, and the entire members of the Anglican Diocese of Aguata for erecting such a magnificent Church edifice for worship of God.  My prayeris that the Holy Spirit who inspired the people of God to build such a house for the worship of His Majesty will continue to inspire all of us to worship God in Spirit and truth and be a living and holy temple for Him always in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. 

DIOCESE OF AMICHI:  NEWS, EVENTS, AND DEVELOPMENTS:

CHURCH WORKERS AND WIVES RETREATS:

Within the period under review, two retreats were organized for all the Church workers and their wives.  These retreats usually serve double purposes of spiritual empowerment, and also in-service training/course for the workers and their wives for optimal performance.  The first retreat took place on Thursday 18th July, 2013 at St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Ebenator.  The retreat featured Sermon presentations by various Clergy from the Diocese, as well as workshop on the use of computer.  The Clergymen who presented sermons were Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu, Revd. Paulinus Ndukwu, Revd. Samuel Omuka, and Revd. Festus Ewenike.  After their various presentations, other Church workers were given the opportunity to comment on or criticize the presentations highlighting the suitability or otherwise of their different presentations.  They also pointed out aspects of their Sermons that needed to be improved upon, and also wrong or right theology contained in their presentations.  It was a great opportunity for the Church workers and their wives to refresh their minds on the rudiments of Sermon preparation and presentation which has been in the decline among Anglican Clergymen in the recent times.

This was followed by a hands-on-computer training jointly hosted by Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka and Mrs. Adora Chigbo.  They offered practical tips to the Church workers and their wives on how to use and care for their computers.  All the Church workers came with their own computers, especially the Clergymen who it has been made compulsory to own a computer.  It was a very wonderful experience which we intend to be repeating from time to time as occasion demands. 

The second retreat took place at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi on Tuesday 16th October, 2013.  The resource person was Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka.  His topic was, “The Watchman”.  According to him, the core responsibilities of the watchman are to detect danger, and then warn the people so that they can escape any impending calamity or prepare for action or reaction.  He reminded Church workers and their wives that God has kept all of us at our various locations and positions to watch over the souls of men, guarding and guiding them from dangers.  He said among other things that the watchman must be knowledgeable, passionate, non-discriminatory, diligent and visionary.  The goal of every watchman should be to secure the lives of his people and bring joy to the one who assigned the work to him.  The retreat also witnessed a session of fervent prayers for our Diocese, Clergy men, laity, Anambra state, and Nigeria in general.

CLERGY AND WIVES RETREAT:

A special retreat was organized strictly for Clergymen and their wives only at the Shalom Chapel, Bishopscourt, Amichi on Monday 9th December, 2013.  The topic that was expounded and treated was “The Integrity of Priesthood”.  The Clergymen and their wives were reminded that integrity in Priesthood has no substitute.  They were also made to understand that the greatest challenge facing the Anglican Priesthood today is the integrity question.  It was ardently emphasized that the duration and relevance of any Priest's ministry is determined by the level of integrity he and his wife possess.  Priests and their wives are called to offer a holy service to God, and His people.  They were meant to understand that the three major areas where Priests must maintain integrity are:  Finance, Women, and Pride.  The Clergymen and their wives were told that what many eloquent sermons could not achieve in the lives of our members, integrity will surely achieve that.  People are moved more by emulatable lifestyle of the Church leader more than his great and high oratory power.  It was stressed pointedly that money is the greatest giant killer of most Priests and their wives.  The Clergymen and their wives had enough time to straighten issues in their lives and ministries through personal reflections and prayers.  We thank God for the outcome of that retreat.

OVERCOMERS FESTIVAL:

The Diocese organized a youth programme that attracted young people from within and outside the Diocese tagged, “Overcomers Festival 2013”.  The programme held from Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd September, 2013 at Christ Church, Amichi.  The theme of the programme was “The Power to Overcome”.  Some speakers from within and outside the Diocese were invited to speak to the youths on the theme from various aspects of the theme.  The major highlights of the occasion and event were:  Bible Challenge which was in form of Bible quiz and Bible recitation; and Picnic to Tourist Hotel and Gardens Resort, Asaba, Delta state.  During the Picnic, several activities took place which includes football, volley ball, table tennis, swimming, and other sporting activities.  The word of God was also preached.  It was indeed a memorable occasion for those young men and women as many of them confessed that they have never been exposed to such a combination of social cum spiritual experience.  Over thirty contestants entered for the Bible quiz and Recitation.  At the end, the best four were selected for the final contest.  We are very glad to say here that the four finalists proved their mettle by the way they memorized the Bible from the first epistle of John to the book of Revelation.  The finalists were:  Miss MakuoChukwu Nnakenyi [Holy Child Convent, Amichi/Church of Divine Compassion, Amichi; Miss Blessing Oguebie [Christ Church, Amichi]; Miss Chimalume Oguebie [Christ Church, Amichi]; and Miss Ujunwa Mbelu [Christ Church, Amichi].  They won the following prizes for themselves:  First Prize – N150,000.  Second Prize – N100,000.  Third Prize N50,000; and Fourth Prize N35,000.  Two other contestants Miss Anulika Ekwenye [Christ Church, Amichi]; and Master Chukwuebuka Obihe [Christ Church, Amichi] received N20,000 each as consolation prizes.  These prizes were fully sponsored by the Diocese.  The most interesting aspect of the programme was that most of the young people, who attended the programme, got the charge to face all the challenges confronting the youths and made up their minds to succeed.  Many of them sincerely and genuinely surrendered their live to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am very grateful to Ven. Nnamdi Amutaigwe, Revd. Canon P.C. Chukwuemeka and the entire members of the Diocesan Youth Board for making the programme a huge success, and a worthwhile venture.

FIRSTBORNS NIGHT 2013:

The 2013 edition of the First Borns Night programme was held at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi on Friday 29th November, 2013.  The theme of the programme was “Born to Excel”.  As early as 6.00 p.m., first sons and daughters from different parts of the country including Edo, Kogi, Delta, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Lagos states started thronging the Cathedral premises with great enthusiasm and expectations.  The Cathedral was full to capacity, and there was an overflow of crowd outside which participated with the aid of large screen positioned outside.  It was a great opportunity to recover broken destinies of many first sons and daughters.  Reading from Genesis 49:1 – 4, the Bishop during his ministration revealed to the firstborns seven things every first born must know in order to excel in every aspect of his/her life.  They are:

[a]       Every first born is the full might of his/her parents.

[b]       Every first born is the beginning of his/her lineage.

[c]       The spiritual, financial and academic strength of the first born sets the            stage for the general strength of the family.

[d]       The Excellency of dignity of each family is anchored on the life of the first      born.

[e]       The Excellency of power of the entire family is centered on the firstborn.

[f]        The failure and success of the firstborn affects every member of the    family lineage.

[g]       The position of the firstborn is established and guided by Divine            instructions from God.

The congregants were led through a session of fervent prayers for the renewal

of their Covenants with God, and repositioning themselves on the path of excellence. 

A great number of this special people came to the Altar and soberly gave their lives to Christ Jesus who is Excellence Himself, and the source of Excellence to all who trust in Him.  The 2014 edition of the Firstborns Night will take place on Friday 3rd October, 2014 at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  This programme is for people from all works of life, and denominations.  We are prayerfully expecting to see you this year.

2013 ADVENT ORDINATION:

The fifth Advent Ordination of our Diocese took place on Sunday 8th December, 2013 at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  Four Ordinands were made Deacons, while three deacons were ordained Priests.  Those made deacons include:

            [a]  Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem

            [b]  Revd. Chidi Enemo

            [c]  Revd. Chidozie Madu

            [d]  Revd. Chukwunonso Okafor.

 

Those ordained Priests were:

            [a]  Revd. Promise Alor

            [b]  Revd. Ifeanyi Chukwuka

            [c]  Revd. Chuka Nwosu.

The retreatant was Ven. Chika Mbeyi.  The theme for the ordination retreat was, “A Holy Priest Serving a Holy God in an Unholy Generation”.  In his sermon during the ordination service, the preacher maintained that holiness of life is never optional for any Priest in the Anglican Church.  According to him, the ministry we are called into is a holy one, the Altar we are serving is holy, and the articles of worship in the altar are holy, and so the leader in such a holy service must be holy at all times.  We appreciate the Grace of God upon the life of this servant of God.

TRUMPET AND TRIUMPHANT NIGHT:

This is our annual Diocesan Praise Night usually used to sum up the year's activities by praising and thanking God through songs and dances for all His mercies upon us as a Diocese throughout the year.  As usual this programme attracts over-flowing crowd from many parts of the country.  The crowd outside the Cathedral building was so much that additional seats had to be rented and projector screen provided for them so as to join in the programme conveniently.  The theme for last Trumpet and Triumphant Night was, “The beauty of praising God” taken from Psalm 147:1 – 20.  The congregation was taught to always praise God for the following reasons:

[a]       Praise penetrates the heart of God while prayer penetrates His ears.

[b]       Praise moves God into action on behalf of the Praise giver.

[c]       Praise substitutes our personal efforts by bringing down the power of God   to work on our behalf.

[d]       Praise assures us of God's presence.

[e]       Praise releases uncommon miracles.

[f]        Praise brings us into our inheritance from God.

[g]       When one praises God, the enemies are confounded, scattered, and defeated.  Bro. Israel Anyanele of the Agape Love Band International, Aba led other Gospel singers in providing melodious praise to God.  Our own Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir; and Nkwa Group of Amichi-West Archdeaconry were not left out in the Grace-filled Praise Night.  It was indeed a glorious and miraculous Night as the presence of God really was felt among His people.  This year's Trumpet and Triumphant Night will take place on Friday 19th December, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi at 9.00 p.m. till dawn.

PRAYER BREAKFAST:

This monthly gathering of God's people from within and outside the Diocese has been growing in leaps and bounds with testimonies of great miracles done by God for His people.  The first day of January every year has been dedicated to prophetic and Episcopal declarations for the year by the Bishop.  On January 1, 2014, people from across the Diocese and beyond gathered at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi especially those who are living faraway places who have not been privileged to be attending the programme every month.  The year 2014 was declared “The Year of Divine Speed”.  The Bishop during his ministration assured the people that Divine speed moves one beyond where human efforts and ingenuity cannot take one.  When people operate under Divine speed, their miracles will not recognize human protocols and obstacles.  It is the Holy Spirit that provides the vehicle for Divine speed, and under His influence, great Miracles happen where no opportunities existed.  We also hold what we term “Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving” on the first day of December, every year.  By the Grace of God, the Prayer Breakfast programme has put smiles on the faces of many people and families who have been attending the programme.  It starts at 6.00 a.m.   Be assured that God is still waiting to bless those who will trust Him by attending the programme every month to take dominion over the new month, and clear through fervent prayers any obstacle the enemy of our souls will like to place on your way for that month.

 

CHURCH WORKERS/WIVES ANNUAL SET APART:

The Bishop and wife, all the Clergymen, Catechists, Church-Teachers and their wives in this Diocese usually begin the year with a Set Apart Programme.  The 2014 edition took place from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th January, 2014 at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Akabu-Osumenyi.  The theme for the set apart was, “Be a Living Sacrifice unto God”.  Our major resource person and guest speaker was The Rt. Revd. Johnson Onuoha, Bishop of Arochukwu/Ohofia Diocese.  God really used this unassuming and committed servant of God to minister to us practically, simply and experientially.  He was with us throughout the duration of the Set Apart.  Our Bible study facilitator was Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka from our Diocese.  Some of the topics treated in the Set Apart included:

[a]       A Living Sacrifice.

[b]       Laying aside our own desires to follow Christ.

[c]       Keeping our bodies fit.

[d]       Be transformed and renewed.

[e]       Goal setting, planning and keeping focus.

The programme also featured fervent Prayers for the Church workers, their families, and ministry.  Prayers were also said for all the members of our Diocese both at home and in diaspora.

2014 DIOCESAN COVENANT SUNDAY:

The 2014 edition of our annual Diocesan Covenant Sunday took place on Sunday 26th January, 2014 at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The theme for this year was, “I have heard their Cry” [Exodus 3:1 – 9].  The Bishop who ministered to the mammoth crowd said that God heard the cry and groaning of the Israelites in Egypt, and sent Moses His servant to go and deliver them.  The metaphor of the burning bush typifies the terrible oppression and suppression they were going through in the hands of Pharaoh and all the Egyptians.  This experience of the Israelites according to the Bishop teaches us that God sees and knows all our struggles and predicaments.  He encouraged the people to believe that God is able to turn every ugly and unsavory experience we are passing through around for our good and testimony. 

He also made the worshippers to know that God is never late in attending to us in times of troubles.  It is our own timing that is always wrong, and that makes us to think that God is late.  He further charged those present to dissociate themselves completely from sin and sinful habits because this is only what makes God to refuse to answer and deliver people from their troubles. The service usually provided an ample opportunity for individuals, families and Churches to either renew their covenants with God or enter into a new covenant with Him.  All manner of Prayers were said for all the people, families, towns, states, and our country Nigeria.  Multitudes by the Grace of God gave their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ by coming to the altar to confess their sins and repent from them.  Diocesan Decision slips were given to such persons for effective follow-up for those around, and continuous prayers and e-counseling for those from distant places.  People also made some financial commitments which serve as Covenant Seed with God.  It was simply awesome and glorious.  This annual service and spiritual event takes place on the last Sunday of January every year.

YEARLY RETREAT FOR ALL P.C.C. MEMBERS AND EXCO MEMBERS

OF ALL ORGANIZATIONS:

This Retreat for all the P.C.C. and exco members of Church Organizations took place on Saturday 15th February, 2014 at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi.  This year the Retreat commenced with a Eucharistic Service.  The resource person whom God used to speak His Word to His people that day was our own Revd. James Mbonu.  He spoke on the topic, “Leadership by Example”.  Citing Daniel 1:1 – 8; and Matthew 7:21 – 23, Revd. James said that the best example any Christian leader should leave for his followers is the example of holy living.  An unholy leader cannot produce holy followers, he reiterated.  He further challenged all Church leaders at various levels to demonstrate transparent faithfulness.  He maintained that the most effective and influential pattern of leadership is leadership by example.  People especially our Church members are tired of having and seeing great and wonderful preachers and talkers.  They want to see and have great doers of what they say and preach so that they can follow them.  He enjoined all the people to learn from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who in all ramifications showed us what it means to lead the people by example.

VALENTINE BANQUET:

The 2014 Valentine Banquet held on Sunday 9th February, 2014 at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew Field, Amichi.  The programme featured songs of praise, Practical Discussions on issues confronting the youths and couples, exciting couples' intimacy games where couples come out to prove how they know each other intimately by answering some questions bordering on marriage relationship of husband and wife, life changing drama, and the declaration of God's word.  The programme is growing in size and quality every year.  This year we had to hire up to three big tents in order to accommodate the teaming population.  From the record of sale of Invitation Cards, we had over two thousand, two hundred people in attendance this year.  As a result of this explosion of number, some participants were unable to eat, and also seats were not enough.  We had already sent out short message texts to all; apologizing for the lapses, and promised to remedy that in subsequent editions.  It is a social cum spiritual programme aimed at correcting the wrong notion and philosophy among young people that valentine celebration is all about immorality and wantonness.   It has been a time of relaxation, joy and sharing in the Presence of God by both young and old.  The greatest highlight of the programme is that multitudes of people gave their lives to God by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Saviour.  A lot of marriages were also healed and restored.  This year, His Lordship, Rt. Revd. Johnson Onuoha and wife joined us in the programme all the way from Arochukwu/Ohafia.  We thank God for their simplicity of life and humility.

2014 DIOCESAN MISSION AND EVANGELISM WEEK:

The  2014 Diocesan Mission and Evangelism Week was held at Archdeaconry levels throughout the Diocese between Monday 24th February and Sunday 2nd March, 2014.  All the Archdeaconries were asked and allowed to choose a mission area within their Archdeaconries to reach out with the Gospel of the kingdom.  The mission week activities this year included:  morning cry; house to house evangelism, as well as open air crusade and preaching. The general theme used throughout was, “As it was in the days of Noah”.  Both the organization and execution of this year's Mission week were very wonderful, fruitful and enriching.  I must thank the members of Diocesan Mission and Evangelism Committee under the chairmanship of Revd. Christian Akosa.  All the Clergymen, Church Teachers, and many of our Church members are hereby commended for a job well done.  We are specially appealing to the men in the Diocese to be part of what God is doing in the Spiritual revival of this our area through the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We have started seeing both the impact and result of the Mission week in the Diocese.

LENTEN MEDITATION:

We have made it a tradition in this Diocese that we gather together every Wednesday in Lent at different Churches as a Diocese to jointly observe the Lenten Meditation.  One of the aims of such service is to retrieve and reinvigorate our old Anglican tradition of chanting the Litany throughout the Lenten period which many of the new generation Anglican Priests have either jettisoned completely or relegated to the background.  Such rich Anglican heritage is now restored.  It is also an avenue to challenge the present day Clergy-man that every Anglican Priest should as matter of tradition know how to chant the liturgy masterly and richly too.  It has also been an opportunity for us as a Diocese to come together to fellowship and reflect on the imperatives and significance of the Lenten season.  Clergymen are chosen to preach in any Church we gather for the Lenten meditation.  Those who preached this year were:  Ven. David Nonyelum at St. Peter's Church, Umudim-Amichi;  Revd. Samuel Omuka at St. James' Church, Azigbo; Ven. Anthony Uchemereole at Christ Church, Odikpi-Osumenyi; Ven. Godwin Okafor at Christ Church, Afube-Amichi; and Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  This year's Lenten service and meditation was observed from Wednesday 12th March to Wednesday 9th April, 2014.  The last day of the Lenten meditation always featured the Episcopal pronouncement of blessings on the people by the Bishop and thanksgiving by various Parishes.

NIGHT OF EVIDENCE:

This special programme started since last year in the Diocese which holds every Good Friday night.  The second edition took place on Good Friday 18th April, 2014.  It was held at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew's field, Amichi from 9.00 p.m. till dawn.  It attracts people from various states of the federation and across different denominations.  The number of people it attracts can only be aptly described as great and intimidating.  This accounts for why the Diocese employs the services of the Police, Army, and local Vigilante for effective management and control of the attendees.  The theme of the programme this year was, “His Cross Settled it”.  Sis. Joy Okam Lazarus was the guest Gospel singer who led the congregation in solemn and lively praise-singing to the Almighty.  In remembrance of Jesus death on the cross, its implications and benefits, the preacher exposed the participants to ten things which were settled by His Cross.  They were outlined thus:

[a]       His cross settled all Curses against us.

[b]       Restored to us the original Abrahamic blessings and covenant.

[c]       Delivered us from all manner of sicknesses and diseases.

[d]       Opened the door of prosperity to God's children.

[e]       Destroyed all the evil works of all principalities and powers.

[f]        Brought full deliverance to us, and sets all captives free.

[g]       Gave us direct access to the throne of God in Prayer by removing all   obstacles.

[h]       Brought to us peace and gave us authority as believers.

[i]        Settled every question about the reality and certainty of Resurrection.

[j]        Settled the issue of forgiveness of sin from and true Reconciliation with          God.

The people were led in series of prayers of repentance and regeneration; Prayers for all kinds of deliverance and liberation for every curse; Prayers for healing and fruitfulness; Prayers of conception and fruit of the womb; and Prayers of re-positioning of individuals, marriages, and families.  A lot of testimonies have been coming in since after the programme.  Above all, many souls were won for Christ Jesus and His kingdom.

DIOCESAN VIGILS:

The Diocese holds joint vigil once every quarter and it has been very fruitful and rewarding.  We met first immediately after the last Synod at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi on 21st June, 2013.  Ven. David Nonyelum preached on the topic, “Unlocking Heaven through Prayer”.

On 25th October, 2013, we held it at Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili and Ven. Chukwudi Osondu from Diocese of The Aguata ministered on, “The arrival of the Master”. 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..****************************************************************

The last edition before this synod was held on Friday 11 April, 2014 at Ebenezer Church, Unubi; and Revd. Chidi Enemo spoke on, “Oh Lord show forth your Power”.  The Bishop led the congregation in a series of intercessory prayers, and warfare prayers.  The experiences in these vigils have been very rewarding and miraculous.  I must appreciate the consistent and relentless efforts of our Diocesan Prayer Co-ordinator in the person of Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie who is at the helm of affairs in all the prayer projects of the Diocese.  These Prayer projects have in no small measure made so many things to work out positively in the Diocese.  May God continue to bless you, your ministry, and your team of Prayer warriors and intercessors in the mighty and glorious name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

DEDICATIONS/INAUGURATIONS:

Within the Synod year under review, we dedicated some Church buildings, and inaugurated one Parish.  They are:

[a]       The Principal's/Staff quarters of Holy Child Convent, Amichi built under         one year was dedicated by us on Sunday December 1, 2013.

[b]       We dedicated the completed Church building of Christ Church, Odikpi-          Osumenyi on Thursday 26th December, 2013.

[c]       On Saturday 28th December, 2013, the ultra-modern Church building of St.             Peter's Church, Akabu-Osumenyi built by Sir and Lady Michael Agazie to         mark his 80th Birthday celebration was dedicated by us.

[d]       The Throne and new Palace court/square of the new Igwe of Ezinifite, His     Royal Highness, Igwe Anayo Samuel Obika was dedicate on 30th      December, 2013.

[e]       St. Peter's Church, Umudim-Amichi new Church building was dedicated on 4th January, 2014.

[f]        We laid the foundation stone of the new Vicarage at the Cathedral Church of St.     Andrew, Amichi on Sunday, 29th December, 2013.

[g]       The Vicarage of Immanuel Church, Akwaihedi fully and totally reconstructed and renovated by Mr. Christian Odunwa was    dedicated by us on 12 January, 2014.

[h]       The dedication of All Saints' Church, Obiofia-Osumenyi Church building         took place on Monday 21st April, 2014.  On the same day, we also          inaugurated the Church as a Parish.

[i]        The Re-dedication service of the Knights and Ladies took place on Sunday     27th April, 2014 at Christ Church, Afube-Amichi.

[j]        We dedicated the family house of Sir and Lady Uche Nwachukwu at    Ekwulumili on Sunday 11th May, 2014.

Within the period, we dedicated some cars for some of our Clergymen Thus:

[i]        Ven. Nnamdi Amutaigwe -           Lexus Jeep.

[ii]       Ven. Jonathan Umeasiegbu        -           High lander Jeep.

[Iii]      Canon Franklin Chukwudozie    -           Car.

[iv]      Canon Samson Ikedinma             -           Sienna.

[v]       Revd. Chukwunonso Okafor      -           Car.

[vi]      Revd. ChidiEnemo              -          

[vii]     Revd. Samuel Iwuorah                 -          

[viii]    Ven. David Nonyelum                   -          

[ix]      Canon Oliver Chigbo                     -          

[x]       Revd. Anthony Nwankwo           -          

[xi]      Mrs. Joy Umeoranefo                   -          

[xii]     Mrs. Josephine Amutaigwe         -          

We thank the Almighty God for blessing the efforts of these His Servants.     

 

IN TOUCH WITH GOD RADIO MINISTRY:

We continue to give special thanks to the great and mighty God who has continued to make funds available for the sustenance of this media Evangelism outreach despite the huge amount of money expended on it yearly.  My very warm gratitude goes to Sir Dr. U.C.  Nzewi;  and Sir Engr. C.O. Umeigbo who have been the only two people from our Diocese that have given meaningful financial support consistently which have helped to kept the programme on air.  This programme now runs in four radio stations every week.  They are: 

ABS, Onitsha 90.70 fm                 -           Fridays 7.30 – 8.00 p.m.

BCA, Umuahia 88.1 fm                 -           Saturdays 6.30 – 7.00 p.m.

Purity FM, Awka 102.5 fm          -           Saturdays 8.30 – 9.00 p.m.

Unity FM, Abakaliki 101.5 fm     -           Sundays 3.15 – 30 & 8.30 – 8.45 p.m.

The impact of this programme in people's lives cannot be adequately described with words.  We spend not less than two million five hundred thousand naira

[N2.5 m] every year in keeping this programme and we have no regret doing that.  We intend to extend to more radio stations as soon as funds are available because the effect and result are wonderful.

Recently, the Anglican Cable Network of Nigeria [ACNN] approached us one on one asking us to start a programme in their television station.  We have not done that because I know the financial involvement and implication.  I therefore remind and appeal to our members to join hands with us in taking the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to desperate souls.  The highest achievement a Christian can make in this life is to save a soul for God's kingdom.  Instead of wasting your money on irrelevant and ephemeral things that have no eternal value and reward like taking ozo title and sponsoring of masquerade, why not sponsor the work of Evangelism and Mission and God will surely bless you.  We are prayerfully and anxiously waiting for individuals, Churches and Parishes, who can partner with us in this Great assignment from our Great God.

EVENTS AND PROJECTS:

2013 WIDOWS CHRISTMAS PARTY:

Christmas is a time of love and sharing.  In following the annual tradition of taking care of widows in the Diocese, the2013 Widows Party took place on 19th December, 2013 at the Cathedral.  The last widows' party witnessed the presence of not less than eight hundred widows.  They were encouraged with the Word of God, and prayed for fervently concerning the various challenges they are facing as widows.  At the end, each widow went home with a half bag of rice, and sachets or tins of tomatoes.  They were also served and fed sumptuously by the women organizations led by the President, Dame Nkem Ikeakor and assisted by the wives of the Clergy.  It was no doubt a joyous and worthwhile exercise because seeing these women going home hopeful and fulfilled. Some widows from other denominations also benefitted from the exercise.  Let me at this time passionately appeal to wives of our Clergymen to establish and have a functional Widows' Fellowship in their Churches in order to minister meaningfully to them.  Let it not just be a case of coming to collect rice once a year.  From this year, the widows that will partake in the Christmas Party will be selected from the members of the Christian Widows' Fellowship. 

Furthermore, the list of committed members of the fellowship who will benefit from the Christmas party must be submitted to the office of the Bishop's Administrative Assistant unfailingly on the last week of October.  This is to enable the Diocese to make adequate arrangements so as to take proper care of the participants.

 

CHURCH WORKERS AND WIVES END OF THE YEAR GET-TOGETHER:

All the Priests, Church Teachers, Postulants and their wives gathered at the Bishopscourt, Amichi on 23rd December, 2013 for the annual get-together.  These wonderful servants of the Lord who labour all through the year to keep the Church and Diocese moving need to be appreciated and encouraged no matter how small.  This is exactly the spirit behind the annual event.  I only came to appreciate the relevance of this gesture when I threatened to put off the event last year.  The passionate appeal and pleading from the workers revealed to me that the action has been alleviating the burdens associated with Christmas celebration and its attendant family demands.  All the Church workers smiled home with meaningful food gift items.  Though it has not been easy for the Diocese in sponsoring and hosting of this event, it is our desire to continue to hold it because it is worth it.  You can be part of the sponsorship.  He who gives a cup of water to a prophet of God, shall in no wise lose his/her reward.

DIOCESAN HOSPITAL, AMICHI:

This hospital has been moving from strength to strength, and glory to glory.  Many heart cheering activities have taken place in the hospital within the Synod year under review.  I must not fail to lavish our appreciation and gratitude to His Excellency, Chief Peter Obi, CON, the immediate past governor of Anambra state for committedly partnering with the Diocese in giving the hospital not only a face-lift but also a pride of place in the health sector.  The governor released another sixty million naira [N60 m] within ten months in addition to the thirty-two million naira [N32 m] already released in 2012.  He also fulfilled his promise of providing a life-saving Ambulance valued at over twenty million naira [N20m] to the hospital.  This amount released has enabled the Diocese to put up a two-storey building hostel for nurses which is now ninety percent [90%] in completion.  The renovation of the hospital fence and its plastering are almost completed.  The entire hospital is now wearing a complete new look.  We have employed full time Doctors, full time qualified Pharmacist, qualified Nurses, Laboratory scientists and technicians.  The hospital is now a bee-hive of activities every day of the week.

We have acquired an ultra-sound machine for the hospital which is now in use.  Within the period, we bought a 2007 model sienna ambulance for the hospital.  Recently, our application to the state ministry of Health for the establishment of a School of Nursing in the hospital has received approval, courtesy of the out gone Governor of Anambra State.  The governor also promised to give the sum of one hundred million naira [N100m] to assist the Diocese in erecting a hostel block for the incoming students.  He approved sixty million naira [N60m] as part of that fund before leaving office in March, 2014.  I therefore, hereby appeal to His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, and the current Governor of Anambra State to please release the money to us to start the construction of the hostel block.  The building design and architectural drawing are ready.  I strongly believe that it was the pressure of complexities of settling down in office that has delayed the prompt release of the money because I am aware that you are quite willing and capable.  Recently, we set up a Steering Committee for the establishment and take-off of the School of Nursing.  The Committee is chaired by Mrs. Esther Maduka.  For optimal performance, we have appointed a full-time hospital Administrator in the person of Revd. Isaiah Chukwubikem.  He has since taken over from the former Administrator, Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma who was doing a good job but because of his being in-charge of a Church, it was not possible for him to be present in the hospital every time he was needed.  We thank him for doing a very good work.

The appointment of a full time administrator has started paying off.  He is always available to attend to any situation that may arise, and as well see to the day to day administration of the hospital.  To also ensure that the hospital is managed very effectively, we have appointed Dr. Innocent Ajegi as the acting Medical Superintendent of the hospital.  This young man with other medical doctors has been doing a great work in that hospital.  Many surgeries are taking place in the hospital on weekly basis.  They have embarked on some local medical missions and outreaches within the Diocese.  We still have so many structures to put up in the hospital like the Administrative building for the School of Nursing, a Chapel for the hospital community, an 18-seater bus for the students, etc.  Allow God to speak to you and use you in this regard.

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI:

This school has continued to wax stronger and stronger academically, spiritually, and in infrastructural development.  The principal Ms. Ijeoma Ndoeche with her team of tutorial and non-tutorial staff has been doing a wonderful work in the Convent.  The Chaplain, Revd. Chuka Nwosu has left no stone unturned in taking care of the spiritual needs and morality of the students.  The Convent received another 18-seater bus, a 20 KVA electric generator, 50 sets of Computer laptops with a Printer, one million two hundred thousand naira [N1.2m] for laboratory equipment from Anambra state government courtesy of Chief Peter Obi, the former governor.  Following the resignation of the former Chairman of Board of Governors of the Convent due to ill-health, a new Chairman has been appointed.  She is Mrs. Chika Onwuka, a seasoned educationist.  She has resumed her duty.  In another development, a standard and harmonized Salary Structure, and conditions of service had been produced for the Convent and Master's Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  This was made possible by the committee set up by the Diocese to that effect headed by Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi.  The documents had been approved by us for implementation and use by the schools from January, 2014.  The West African School Certificate result for last year was simply wonderful.  Over three hundred students are seeking admission into JSSI only in the Convent this current academic session.  A multi-million naira Principal's/Staff house has been completed in the school within the year.  It was dedicated on December 1, 2013.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI:

We are full of thanks to God for His mighty hands upon this young but dynamic Seminary.  Accreditation and approval have been given to the Seminary to take the Basic Education Certificate Examination [B.E.C.E].  That of Senior WAEC is in progress and will soon be completed.  The Almighty God has enabled us to build two extra two-storey buildings within this period thereby solving the problem of classroom blocks, examination, administrative offices, and staff offices permanently.  We just started the construction of a permanent three-storey hostel building for the students.  The Seminary also benefitted from the magnanimity of our past education-friendly governor, Chief Peter Obi.  He provided an eighteen-seater bus, a 20 KVA brand new electric generator, nineteen pieces of Dell Computer Laptops  and a Printer, one million two hundred thousand naira [N1.2m] for laboratory equipment.  The school is taking her first BECE [Junior WAEC] now.  About one hundred and eighty students are seeking admission into JSS I 2014/2015 academic session.  The Seminary as stated earlier now has a Salary Scale and Conditions of Service which are in use now.  It is appropriate here to commend the Principal of the Seminary, Revd. Godson Ugochukwu, and his staff members for the good works they are doing in the lives of these young boys.  Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu, the Chaplain deserves special appreciation for taking care of the Spiritual and Moral aspects of the students.  To God be all the Glory and Honour for what He has been doing in that School.  It is out of His Grace and Mercy that we have done the much that has been done in our growing Seminary.

 

DIOCESAN INTEGRATED FARM:

This farm is located in Utuh.  The farm received a major boost following the visit of the former governor, Chief Peter Obi to the farm around October 2013 during which he promised to assist the Diocese to have a Standard Integrated Farm.  He followed it up by sending the former Commissioner for Agriculture who visited the farm and asked us to submit our proposal and feasibility for the establishment of a functional farm.  After a very meticulous analysis, we articulated and sent a budget proposal of one hundred and forty-four million naira only to the government [N144m].  The governor in his characteristic manner promised to give us this amount but in bits.  Before he left, he released twenty million naira [N20m] as initial support grant for the farm.  We have sunk a borehole in the farm, and erected an overhead tank of six thousand gallons capacity which gulped around four million two hundred thousand naira only [N4.2m].  The farm now has a very clean ten ton capacity truck which we bought at the cost of three million, nine hundred thousand naira [N3.9m] both purchase and clearing, and construction of iron bars round about the trunk.

By the Grace of God, we have constructed another pen of six thousand birds capacity at the cost of five million eight hundred and sixty thousand naira only

[N5.86m]. The pen was recently stocked with five thousand chicks. This brings the total number of birds to ten thousand.  Furthermore, having seen how exorbitant buying and using already made feed had been which reduces any profit we would have made to very minute level, we decided to manufacture our own feed.  God has enabled us to build a feed manufacturing factory in the farm premises which also serves as a warehouse for the raw materials and the manufactured feed.  We have secured the two major machines needed for production, which are Crusher/Grater(hammer mill), and Mixer.  The total cost of both the building and machines is approximately put at Six million five hundred thousand naira [N6.5m].  A brand new 45 KVA Sound-proof Generator had been bought in May [last month] at the cost of two million eight hundred and ten thousand naira [N2.81m] which powers the machines in the factory, supplies light to the residents in the farm, and pumps water from the borehole. 

The women ministry/organization is now embarking on the construction of a standard thirty thousand capacity fishery.  This is at a very advanced stage of completion.  They are also constructing a hatchery for fingerlings.  All these are within the premise of the farm.  Plans have been completed for the construction of another building which will house the cold-room, offices, storage and packing stores.  We shall likely have frozen chicken in the farm before the end of the year.  I am pleading with the Governor of Anambra State to complete the release of the remaining fund promised us by the state government.  We are expanding the farm to include Quail farming, Goat farming, Grass-cutter farming.  A new manager, Mrs. Ngozi Akosa has been appointed for the farm.  I praise God for the zeal, commitment and sacrifice of this woman in the running and management of the farm.

DIOCESAN WELFARE SCHEMES AND PACKAGES:

The Diocese in order to pursue a holistic approach to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, has embarked on various types of welfare schemes and packages.  Some of such include the securing of admissions into universities and other institutions of higher learning for many of our qualified young men and women.  The Diocese has undertaken scholarships for some indigent students both at secondary and university school levels.  Currently the Diocese is sponsoring fully seven students in the Universities through our scholarship schemes.  We also have a student in South Africa under this scheme.  The aim of this scheme is to encourage our Youths to pursue education which is the bedrock for youth productivity and creativity. 

In a bid to encourage our fellow Church workers in other Dioceses we consider purely Missionary in nature financially, the Diocese has offered to pay the stipend of three Priests for one full year.  Two of the Priests are from Abakaliki Diocese, and one from Ngbo Diocese.  On 4th of April 2014, during the Diocesan Mothers' Union Prayer Retreat, the Diocese put smile on the faces of some mothers who had clocked seventy-five and eighty years by giving each of them half bag of rice, a carton of tomatoes, and ten thousand naira only [N10,000].  This is our small way of celebrating old age which is a blessing.  We could see joy, encouragement, and life in these mothers as they danced gloriously in God's presence in celebrating such gesture.

In another development, the Diocese through the co-operation of some women who attended last year's Wailing Women Prayer Summit took up the challenge of building a four-bed room bungalow for a woman who attended the programme.  This house has been completed, painted, electrified and connected to the National power grid, and handed over to the woman who is from Igboukwu.  Also recently, two of the new converts we have from Obiagu village, Amichi are benefitting from the Welfare package of the Diocese.  One of them is a woman who has broken and dwarf perimeter fence around her house from where some miscreants come to rape her sick daughter.  The complete fencing of the entire compound has been done for her.  The other family has very dilapidated mud house which is a very great threat to their life and safety.  The Diocese is now erecting a four bedroom new bungalow.  The work started in April, and by the grace of God, the building has been roofed, and plastering work has started in earnest.  Before the end of July, the house will be completed and handed over to the family.  We have assisted some people to start petty businesses, and paid house rents to people who are desperately in trouble.  These projects are taking millions of naira from the Diocese.  The Diocese is not doing these things because there is money, but because the Gospel we preach demands that we embark on such welfare schemes. The Diocese as a show of brotherly solidarity gave the sum of one million naira [N1m] to the Diocese of Mbamili as she embarks on the reconstruction of the Diocese as a result of the flood disaster they experienced in 2012. 

In the same vein, as a follow-up to the directive we gave in my Presidential Address at Ebenator Synod of 2011 wherein I instructed that no Clergyman is allowed to buy and use Jeep in this Diocese if he has no personal house in his town or village, the Diocese gave a support grant of two hundred and fifty thousand naira [N250,000] each to two of our Clergymen namely:  Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo; and Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka, who we found out to have started building their personal houses.  Let me once again thank Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi who not only have brought and supported that policy by giving out two hundred and fifty thousand naira [N250,000] but has in his wisdom provided us with the criteria or parameter for choosing which Clergy to benefit from that Clergy housing scheme.  In his personal letter to us  accompanied by the cheque, he told us to give that money to any Clergy I consider to be LOYAL TO THE BISHOP AND DIOCESE; PRODUCTIVE IN THIS MINISTRY; OBEDIENT TO THE BISHOP AND POLICIES OF THE DIOCESE; AND WHO HAS ACTUALLY STARTED BUILDING NO MATTER AT WHAT LEVEL.  This makes me to let the Clergy in this Diocese know that not all Priests will benefit from this Housing Scheme, but only those who meet the above criteria.  I am appealing to all our members in this Diocese to support us in providing house to the Priests of God who are laboring among you by donating towards this laudable project.  To further encourage those Clergymen who have been doing marvelously well to pursue the building of their personal houses, I now invite Ven. David Nonyelum; Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo; and Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka to receive the sum of one million naira [N1m]; and seven hundred and fifty thousand naira [N750,000] each respectively as our appreciation for your loyalty, creativity, productivity, and obedience in the Diocese.  The last two are receiving seven hundred and fifty thousand naira each so as to make up the amount they have already received to one million naira each.  This exercise has nothing to do with sycophancy but usefulness to the Diocese, and a means of encouraging house ownership by the Clergy.

We intend to make this a yearly exercise and nothing stops us from giving a Priest who has received before a second time.

LAND ACQUISITION, DONATIONS, AND PROCUREMENTS:

Within this one year under review, the Diocese made acquisitions of land through donation and outright purchase.  Last year during our second session of the second Synod at St. Peter's Church, Amichi I appealed to the people of Unubi through the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Francis Umennajiego to provide not less than six plots of land for the Diocese for the citing of our proposed Table Water Production/manufacturing factory.  I am herein thanking in a very special way, the traditional ruler of Unubi, the President-General of Unubi Development Union, and his executives, and the entire Unubi community for finally donating six plots of land to the Diocese for our Table Water project.  We equally thank them for heeding our plea to remove all bottlenecks and conditions that wanted to hamper this rare magnanimity.  By the Grace of God, we shall start the development of the site after this Synod.  This water project would have commenced in full and advanced greatly before now if not for the skirmish surrounding the conditions of the donation of the land.  Nevertheless, the site has been cleared for commencement of work soonest.  Still on land acquisition, the Diocese bought in January this year, ten plots of land at Obiagu-Amichi.  The total cost of the land including the survey cost, settlement of Obiagu Development Union, and other sundry expenses amounted to eighteen million, four hundred thousand naira only [N18.4m] which has been fully paid to all concerned.  The fencing of the school premises and erection of a new classroom block at Akwaihedi has been completed.  A new classroom block was also erected at Eziama-Amichi.  The Diocese procured a ten-ton truck [N3.9m]; a 2007 model Toyota Sienna Jeep ambulance [N2.2m] including refurbishment and servicing]; A Toyota Camry Car for the Diocesan Accountant [N1.6m]; two fairly used 25KVA Supportive Generators for the Bishopcourt, and Diocesan Secretariat [N900,000]. The immediate past governor of Anambra state donated a brand new Security Van to us in March this year.  We are very grateful to Chief Peter Obi in all things he did for the Diocese during his tenure. 

The Diocese has also secured a three-bedroom flat for Anglican Corpers posted in this area to serve as their Corpers lodge/secretariat.

 

WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS:

I want to in a very special way appreciate and thank the President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild of this Diocese, Dame Nkem Ikeakor, her lieutenants, and indeed all women and girls for their unalloyed support to the Diocese.  They are waxing stronger and stronger every year.  The women gave an initial take-off donation of ten million naira [N10m] to the Diocese this year in response to the Bishop's appeal to them to sponsor the building of a three-storey hostel building at the Master's Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  They also bought a brand new 18-seater Toyota high roof hummer bus at the cost of seven million, five hundred thousand naira [N7.5m] only.  They decided to purchase the bus because the person who pledged to donate the bus to them since 2009 was not forthcoming in fulfilling his promise and redeeming his pledge.  The women are embarking on the construction of a thirty thousand capacity fishery, and a hatchery at the Diocesan Integrated Farm for the women organizations as a fund generating venture.  It was the women organizations that provided over eight hundred cartons of tin tomatoes for distribution during the 2013 Widows' Christmas Party.  My prayer is that the Almighty and Gracious God will continue to bless, empower and enrich our women in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

CONFIRMATION/ADMISSIONS STATISTICS:

Below is the schedule and statistics of Confirmation and admissions within the year under review:-

 

STATISTICS OF CONFIRMATION AND ADMISSIONS

 

 

S/N

 

                           CHURCH

 

      DATE

CONFIRMATION

 

MALE   FEMALE

 

GIRLS' GUILD

 

WOMENS GUILD

MOTHER's UNION

 

OFFERINGS

 

 

AFTER 2013 DIOCESAN SYNOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 N

 

1.

 

IMMANUAL CHURCH, EKWULUMILI

 

22/09/2013

 

3

 

12

 

3

 

11

 

1

 

15,685.=

2.

EBENEZER CHURCH, UNUBI

29/09/2013

17

8

3

6

1

  7,340.=

3.

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, UTUH

13/10/2013

4

9

5

7

2

  6,720.=

4.

ST. JAMES' CHURCH, AZIGBO

20/10/2013

6

4

2

2

-

 18,615.=

5.

ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

03/11/2013

7

20

4

2

5

 13,785.=

6.

ST. PHILIP'S CHURCH, AMICHI

17/11/1013

9

2

1

1

1

 12,230.=

7.

ST. SIMON'S CHURCH, EZINIFITE

24/11/2013

7

11

5

5

2

  18,965.=

8.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI

27/11/2013

45

-

-

-

-

 23,105.=

9.

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI

04/12/2013

 

64

67

 

 

 36,870.=

10.

ST. ANDREW'S CATHEDRAL, AMICHI

15/12/2013

19

23

7

3

1

 25,365.=

11.

CHURCH OF DIVINE COMPASSION, AMICHI

19/01/2014

4

9

2

1

1

 17,435.=

12.

ALL SAINTS' CHURCH, OSUMENYI

26/01/2014

4

5

2

2

3

   7,795.=

13.

IMMANUEL CHURCH, EKWULUMILI

09/03/2014

16

19

10

7

7

 17,605.=

14.

CHRIST CHURCH, AMICHI

16/03/2014

16

8

6

3

2

 18,285.=

 

TOTAL

 

157

194

117

50

26

239,800.=

 

 

RETIREMENTS:

I did mention in my Address last year that Revd. Canon Peter Nneji will retire from active Church Ministry and Service in December, 2014.  Because of the fragile nature of his health, the Diocese granted him what we termed Sabbatical leave by not giving him any stressful assignment, and also paying his rent in Nnewi from that last year till his actual retirement date.  We also pay his full stipend, and encourage him to attend all meetings and functions he feels healthy to attend.  We thank God for his life. 

Mr. Eni-Okoli, a Catechist in the Diocese has also been notified by the Superannuation office that he is due for retirement on December, 2015.  He has put up a letter of voluntary retirement as a result of ill-health.  We granted his request because he heeded our advice.  We have also decided to pay his stipend till December this year when we shall inform the Superannuation office of his voluntary retirement so as to enhance the prompt release of his Pension entitlements.

ABSCONDMENT:

I wish to regrettably announce the unceremonious abscondment of Revd. Tochukwu Chukwuekezie from the Diocese in September 2012.  Before his abscondment, he was one of the curates in St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi.  He did not inform his Vicar/Archdeacon nor the Bishop of his intention to leave the Church ministry and Diocese.  Every attempt to reach him proved abortive.  When we eventually spoke to his father who is a Canon, he simply told me that Tochukwu his son has gone to further his studies abroad.  This is a young man who has not even WAEC result let alone any higher institution certificate.  He was made a deacon in 2010, and ordained Priest in 2012 by us.  He left with the car that the Diocese gave him after his ordination.  He did not return our License, and letter of order to us even after we asked the father to prevail on him to surrender those documents to us.  Let it therefore be known to all that Tochukwu Chukwuekezie is no more a Priest in this Diocese, and by extension no more an Anglican Priest.  Anyone relating with him in that capacity both within and outside this Diocese does so at his or her detriment.  We waited patiently for these long months to know if he would come back to his senses and rescind his decision, but it has proved a mirage.  His ordination license is hereby revoked, and withdrawn.  Please continue to pray for him.

POLICY MATTERS:

[a]       LAYREADERS' AND CHURCH-TEACHERS' CASSOCK:

Anglican Church is a Church of liturgy, order, and hierarchy.  We operate on the tripod of the Scripture; Tradition; and Reason.  We have observed with dismay that this orderliness and hierarchy observance is grossly being eroded.  Lay Readers now wear all types of Cassocks, and even girdle.  Church Teachers have also joined in that rascality.  I therefore state and instruct that from henceforth, no lay reader, and Church teacher is allowed to wear Cassock with cape. They are not also allowed to use girdle.  Let us learn from our forebears in maintaining our tradition of orderliness in our Church.

[b]       CLEARANCE BEFORE BURIAL:

It has come to our knowledge that this has continued to generate serious controversy and resistance among our members especially those in both local and international diaspora.  No organization, institution, society or union exists without membership modalities and criteria.  Let me make it clear again here that membership in Anglican Church is renewable every year with just a token of money.  This is what was formerly known as “Class Dues”, but now we call it “Stewardship”.  It is the payment of this insignificant amount of money every year by all, both young and old that qualifies your name to be in our Church register.  Also if there are dues or levies which members paid for a particular project or purpose at any given time, all adult members are expected to pay theirs that year.  If you fail to respond to these statutory financial obligations for a period of two years, the Church will not be involved if such a person dies.  If a parent of defaulting members dies, all the children of that man/woman who are still our members must pay all their dues before such a burial will take place.  No branch executive committee has the authority to instruct a Priest to bury a person because according to them, they have cleared or absolved such your branch member from all indebtedness.  Clearance for burial or wedding is done at home by the Priest, Vicar or Church worker at home. Your name must be found in the Church register at home.  No Anglican Priest or Church worker is allowed to conduct burial for any of our members from outside the Diocese if such a member is not up to date in his/her home Church.  The much such a Priest or parish can do if the person is committed in the Church outside his/her home is to have a service of songs, and possibly a commendation service for the person in that Diaspora Diocese and Parish.  We shall never take lightly with any Priest from another Diocese who comes here to create confusion for us.  I am also aware that some of our Clergymen are still compromising this stance and standard because of morsel of bread thereby painting those who uphold the instruction of the Diocesan black, and portraying them as wicked before their parishioners.  We have taken note of such hypocritical, balaamic and dishonest Clergymen.  We shall react when the time is ripe.

[c]     ENDOWMENT FUND:

Since 2010, we inaugurated the Diocesan Endowment Committee and saddled them with the responsibility of organizing meaningful financial Endowment for the Diocese.  We thank God that Endowment Fund Card has been produced and distributed.  I am very glad to commend our parishioners at home who have committed themselves to the payment of this Endowment.  May the good Lord in whose name you have taken up this challenge continually bless and replenish you and your families in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.  As usual, our abroad members are still resisting it, and castigating the Bishop and his Priests.  It is unfortunate that this has been the stock-in-trade of these our honorable and noble abroad members who should have been the backbone of the Diocese which is the case in other Dioceses.  Let me remind those of you who think that the Diocese will grind to a half without them, that this Church belongs to God, and he does not even need you to do His work.  Jesus answered those Pharisees who wanted to stop those who were doing God's work at his Triumphal entry and said: “I tell you that if these ones should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” [Luke 19:40].

The Almighty God has graciously blessed this Diocese with many well-to-do members, but majority of these members have chosen to work against God, and the Church with their positions and finances.  We have many members who can comfortably give this Diocese twenty, ten or five million naira yearly for many years for this endowment.  Is it not time to reflect and ask: ‘Since six years now, I have not given the needed support to this Diocese, yet the Diocese is waxing stronger year by year; What is wrong with me?  Why am I rewarding God's goodness and mercy to me with evil?'  God is watching all of us. If you like, pay the endowment contribution.  If you like kill it in your branches.  I promise you under God, that this Diocese will continue to soar higher like the eagle in all ramifications in Jesus Christ Name.

[d]       2015 DIOCESAN HARVEST:

The Diocese organized her first combined Diocesan harvest and bazaar in 2011, and I promised that we shall be doing that again in 2015.  The next combined Diocesan harvest and bazaar sales comes up on Monday 6th April, 2015 [Easter Monday] at the Cathedral.  This is going to be the mother of all harvests. 

It is tagged, “Harvest of Memorial Sacrifice and Covenant”.  For effective planning and productive execution of that harvest, the members of the 2015 Diocesan Harvest Planning Committee are:

1.           Sir Chidi Onumajuru                     -           Chairman

2.           Sir Emma. Okoli                              -           1st Vice Chairman

3.           Ven. Nnamdi Amutaigwe -           2nd Vice Chairman

4.           Sir Emma. Okafor                          -           Member

5.           Mr. Chiedozie Ozodo                    -                      

6.           Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo         -                      

7.           Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka             

8.           Engr. Mrs Esther Ikedinma          -                      

9.           Mrs. Esther Maduka                      -                      

10.                        Chief Laz. Okoli                               -                      

11.                        Barr. Lady Amaka Udogu             -                                

12.                        Ven. Henry Amobi                         -                                

13.                        Mrs. Ijeoma Ndoeche                   -                      

14.                        Mrs. Chika Onwuka                       -                      

15.                        Sir Uche Nwachukwu                   -                      

16.                        Chief James Ojiaka             -                      

17.                        Sir Christian .I. Nwosu                  -                      

18.                        Sir Anslem Obiagwu                      -                      

19.                        Lady Patricia Akubuogo               -                      

20.                        Sir Engr. Frank Igwilo                    -                      

Your term of reference is simply to plan and execute a very successful harvest which will yield enough money to endow the Diocese.  The committee is free to co-opt as many people as they would deem fit if such need arises.  By this arrangement, no event will be fixed by any Church or member on that 6th April, 2015 in the Diocese.  All roads lead to the Cathedral on that day.  Every Archdeaconry will have their separate canopies during the sales at the field and should raise men and women to man their tables.   For the Bishop's Canopy and Executive Table; these are my compulsory Table dignitaries and members.

            [i]        High Chief Sir S.N. Ukachukwu

            [ii]       Sir  Michael Agazie

            [iii]      Hon. Justice G.C. Anulude

            [iv]      Sir Engr. Cyprain Umeigbo

            [v]       Sir Engr. Chuba Ochubili

            [vi]      Chief Felix Ofordum

            [vii]     Chief Dr. Chidi Anyaegbu

            [viii]    Sir Okey Ojimba

            [ix]      Sir  Silas Olie

            [x]       Sir Festus Okafor

            [xi]      Sir Engr. Igweka Uche

            [xii]     Mr.  Enoch  Ezike

            [xiii]    Sir  Osita Onyenwe

            [xiv]    Mr.  Chukwudi Odika

            [xv]     Sir Dr. A.B. Atuchukwu

            [xvi]    Sir Joe Atuchukwu

            [xvii]   Chief Dr. S.N. Okeke

            [xviii]  Sir Donald Udogu [SAN]

            [xix]    Mr.  Goddy Ezemo

            [xx]     Mr.  Chinedu Okeke

            [xxi]    Sir Dr. U.C.  Nzewi .

God being our helper, and with these caliber of men, and numerous others from the Archdeaconries and Parishes, something glorious and tangible must happen that day.  Clergymen and workers and their wives are please enjoined to actively mobilize all their members for this memorable day.  May I passionately remind us that our harvest is purely on Cash and Carry basis.  The Women Ministry/Organizations, and indeed all arms and organizations are also enjoined to make that day very successful and colourful.

[e]       READING LESSONS AND PREACHING WITH I-PAD:

We shall continue to thank God for explosion of scientific knowledge and the development of Information Communication Technology [ICT].  However, the Church should not allow these gadgets to dangerously affect her spirituality and mode of worship.  It has become embarrassingly obvious that nowadays in our Churches, some Clergymen and lay members of our Church read lessons during Church services with and from electronic devices like cell phones, I .Pad, and laptops.  Preachers have replaced the Holy Bible with I. Pads.  Church leaders do not come to Church or Christian fellowships with the Holy Bible but I Pads.  I hereby make it a policy in this Diocese that nobody whether Clergy or lay is allowed to read lessons, Preach Sermons, or conduct services with the electronic devices mentioned above, and others not mentioned.  Power points demonstration is allowed when the need arises.  Satan is subtly taking the Holy Bible away from the Church and Christians in the name of advancement and enlightenment.

These gadgets are designed and made for personal and private studies and researches.  It still baffles me that people after reading lessons from cell phone, or I. pad, will lift them before the congregation and say, “This is the word of the Lord”.  I. pad, cell phone, or lap top can never be the Word of God.  Because of this unfortunate development, many of our youths today, don't come to Church services with the Holy Bible, and if you ask them, they will tell you that it is in their handset or cell phone.  The Holy Bible has no replacement, substitute or alternative.  Whether you like it, or not, this is calculated Satan's ploy to take the Holy Bible away from the hands of Christians.  New generation Church Pastors started using it as a show of being fashionable, digital, and status symbol.

Let me also direct our Priests and Church workers to make sure that they pass this information and policy to any Guest Preacher they may have approved to invite to minister in their Churches, institutions or chaplaincies.  Cell phones, I pad, and laptops are gadgets that contain a lot of things of which the Bible you download into it becomes one of the contents.  But the Holy Bible is the pure Word of God written and delivered to the Church, and mankind for study, meditation and worship.

 

DECORATION OF CHURCH ALTARS OR SACRARIUM:

The Anglican Church is no doubt an established Church with biblical orthodoxy.  The sacrarium is the sanctuary of our Church.  Holy and sacred objects and accessories of worship and sacrament are kept in them.  It is specifically and specially consecrated and sanctified during Church dedication.  Therefore, the new trend of decorating such a holy place with diverse costumes are no longer acceptable and allowed in this Diocese from now.  The altar linens, frontals, dedicated flower vases, and above all the Glory and Presence of the Almighty God are enough decorations.  It is traditional that items used and kept in the sacrarium are dedicated fully for that purpose.  Most of the new generation Churches from where our new generation and “digital” priests copy these things worship in hotels, village or town halls, event centres, private and public buildings.  As such, they decorate a section of such places to look special and separated from the rest of the building in order to depict a picture of an altar.  It is called “a make shift altar”.  We as Anglican Church have full and consecrated altar, and not a make shift.  The decoration disfigures and distorts our altar.  Let all such decorations be dismantled from all our Churches immediately, and the traditional Anglican Church Sacrarium linens and frontals or antependium be maintained and put in place.  Churches still worshipping in halls, or public or private buildings are allowed to do such decorations.

 

RECOMPOSITION OF BOARDS, CHAPLAINCIES, AND

DISSOLUTION OF BISHOP'S NOMINEES:

As this Diocese marks the end of our Second Synod, I wish to thank all the Bishop's nominees who have been members of the Synod for these six years.  We totally appreciate your commitment, sacrifices, and encouragements to us. May the good Lord bless you and all yours now and always.  We are also aware that there are some who never showed up for one day in our Synod since they were appointed Bishop's nominees.  To such people, we also thank God for you.  I hereby dissolve all the current Bishop's nominees to the Synod.  The new ones will be written and informed after this Synod.  If we are delighted to re-nominate you, please do not hesitate to oblige us.

We hereby announce the dissolution of the Board of Governors of Holy Child Convent, Amichi, and Master's Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  We thank in no small measure all who served in these Boards for these years.  God will never forget your labours of love in His vineyard.

The New Boards are reconstituted thus:

Holy Child Convent, Amichi:

a.     Mrs. Chika Onwuka                 -           Chairman

b.     Sir Engr. Igweka Uche             -           Member

c.      Sir Engr. Emeka Nzewi            -          

d.     Sir Ephraim M.C. Okeke         -          

e.     Ven. Henry  Amobi                  -          

f.       Mrs.  G. Akunebuni                 -          

g.     Mr. Chiedozie Ozodo              -          

h.     Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo   -          

i.        Sir Dr.  U. C.  Nzewi                 -          

j.       Revd. Fidelis Ogene                 -          

k.     Barr. Arinze Umeakuana       -          

l.        Ms.  Ijeoma Ndoeche              -           Secretary.

 

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI:

a.     Sir Dr.  U.C.  Nzewi                              -           Chairman

b.     Revd. Fidelis Ogene                             -           Member

c.      Ven. Henry Amobi                               -          

d.     Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka       

e.     Sir  Jeff  Okeke                                      -          

f.       Sir Christian  .I. Nwosu                       -          

g.     Barr. I.E.C.  Alajuruonye                    -          

h.     Mr. Chiedozie Ozodo                          -          

i.        Lady Nkiru Atuchukwu                       -          

j.       Lady Patricia Akubuogo                     -          

k.     Lady Barr. Amaka Udogu                   -          

l.        Revd. Godson Ugochukwu                -           Secretary.

We congratulate the new board members and remind them that to whom much is given, much is also expected.  Ours are schools that want to set education and morality standard at all times.  They should pursue these with vigor, diligence, sacrifice and integrity.

APPOINTMENTS AND CHAPLAINCIES:

For optimal performance both in our schools and Church organizations, there is need to appoint people who can effectively pilot the affairs of such arms and organizations.  These people are hereby appointed to man these various offices:-

Miss  Esther Ogbaji                        -           Vice Principal, Holy Child Convent, Amichi.

Engr. Mrs Esther Ikedinma          -           Vice Principal, Master's Vessel Seminary,                                                                               Osumenyi.

Mrs. Ngozi Akosa                           -           Manager, Diocesan Integrated Farm.

Barr. Arinze Umeakuana             -           Deputy Legal Secretary of the Diocese.

Revd. Fidelis Ogene                       -           Diocesan Education Secretary.

Ven. Dr. Johnson Maduka           -           Manager/CEO, ADASS.

Revd. Chidi Enemo                         -           Chaplain, Anglican Youth Fellowship; and                                                                              Anglican Students Fellowship.

Revd. Richard  Ibeto                      -           Chaplain, Diocesan Laity Council.

Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu                        -           Chaplain, Women Organizations/Ministry.

Revd. Isaiah Chukwubikem         -           Administrator, Diocesan Hospital, Amichi.

Dr. Innocent Ageji                          -           Acting Medical Superintendent, Diocesan                                                                              Hospital, Amichi.

We pray the Almighty God to grant these people the Grace and Wisdom to accomplish what is expected of them in these offices.

HOLY EUCHARIST/COMMUNION DRESS CODE:

I am one of those who believe in dynamism, changes and meaningful flexibility but not at the detriment of identity and rich orthodoxy and sanitizing Church tradition.  Our very careful observation and practical experience have revealed the gross abuse of conduct and participation demonstrated during our Holy Communion Services.  People who are neither communicants nor Anglican members in the first instance now partake of our Holy Communion with reckless, abandon and ungodly audacity.  Many of our parishioners have even forgotten that communicants prepare for Holy Communion before they partake.  All these anomalies and abuse is caused majorly by the fact that we have jettisoned our holy tradition of coming for Holy Communion dressed in white.  In as much as I agree that it is not the white apparel that makes you holy and worthy, yet it has always brought in serenity, solemness, and godly consciousness in the minds and hearts of the communicants.  Age has nothing to do with qualification for communion rather preparation and confirmation do.  We Anglicans have almost lost identity, true spirituality and our biblically-based rich liturgy of orderliness in the name of liberalism, modernism, and being accommodating.

 From henceforth, any Anglican in this Diocese who wants to communicate during Holy Communion services MUST dress in white, unless such people are visitors from another Diocese that particular day.  Furthermore, this principle can be relaxed on special festive seasons as Easter day and Christmas day.  You may have your arguments against this policy, but we will maintain this stand, and its implementation starts in all Churches immediately after this Synod. Clergymen are directed to explain this to our parishioners and implement it to the letters.  It is in a bid not to offend the elites and the bourgeois that we run away from our duty as Church leaders to maintain standard and teach the correct thing to our members.  The irony of all these looseness is that if these things are practiced by other denominations, our members would have challenged us with it and moving us to copy it as a standard way.  I remember vividly when the Anglican and Roman Catholic Priests were branded ungodly, pharisaic, and unspiritual simply because they wear cassocks, use skull cap, mitre, and wear Episcopal rings.  Today, almost all who criticized and condemned us are using those vestments without even knowing their meaning.

In another dimension, I do not approve the wearing of suit or coat by either Pastor's warden, and Peoples' warden to function during Church services.  Sidesmen/women or Guild of stewards can wear that but not vergers.  It looks very absurd to this category of officers in Church services holding their crosses while in suit.  It is quite true that the hood does not make the monk, yet it is very obvious that the monk needs the hood for identification.

THE NIGERIA NATION:

[i]        ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION:

We are very grateful to the Almighty God for the great thing He did in Anambra State during that election.  What many projected to have been the bloodiest state governorship election turned out to be one of the most peaceful governorship elections in Nigeria.  Brethren in Christ, Prayer still works and God still answers prayers.  The election has eventually come and gone.  I strongly believe that all of us both in sacred and secular circles have learnt the lessons expected of us.  The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.  Let me officially at this point congratulate our new Governor, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano who was sworn in on 17th March, 2014.  You Excellency, the race  is not to the swift, nor the battle to the mighty, but it is God who gives victory.  You are encouraged to run an all-inclusive administration and government.  This may not sound palatable to your Excellency, but someone must tell our new governor the obvious truth.  Your Excellency, Anambrarians did not vote for you, rather they voted for Mr. Peter Obi whose glaring achievements spoke for him, and is still speaking for him.  We did not know you and what you stand for, but trusted that this man that Mr. Peter Obi is confident to present to Anambrarians to succeed him must be a performer.  You now have four years to prove that we did not misfire by voting Chief Willie Obiano to be the Governor of Anambra State.  May I inform our dear Governor that your predecessor achieved majority of the feats he achieved majorly due to the fact that he unapologetically partnered with the Church.  All the funds he released to the Church were judiciously and meticulously utilized.

Do not allow the political gladiators and selfish sycophants to diffuse and divert your attention from the Church.  What the Church builds with one million naira, those men and women will never build with fifty million naira both in quantum and quality.  To my mind, you have started well by confronting the security menace in our state especially in Onitsha city.  If you can sanitize Onitsha in particular, and the whole state in general security-wise, this state may be having one of the most robust internally generated revenues in Nigeria.

Your predecessor delisted Anambra State as a debtor state.  Endeavour so much not to return us to the path of borrowing to run government.  He drastically down-sized the cost of running government by avoiding wasteful paraphernalia of Governor's office and unnecessary wild partying associated with many of our political leaders and state governors.  All the monumental obstacles to good governance were removed for you, and the political dragon wars fought and won by your predecessor.  Please your Excellency, cue into some of these road maps so as to succeed.

Your Excellency, let me appeal to you to give very serious attention to Nnewi-South Local Government Area of Anambra State.  The fact and truth of the matter is that there is no area or town in this local government where the presence of government both State and Federal are felt obviously.  We thank the former governor for the construction of Azigbo – Amichi – Osumenyi – Akwaihedi road.  He also constructed Unubi – Akwaihedi road, though I do not know if this one is completed.  The state government can bring a Campus of the State University to this area or cite some industries in this area.  This informs why we are calling passionately on you sir to release more funds to this Diocese for the expansion of our Integrated Agricultural Farm, and the completion of building structures for the establishment of our School of Nursing; and the full upgrading of our hospital which is the only major hospital in this locality serving the entire rural populace.  Be assured of our fervent prayers and support for you and your government. 

Finally, may I appeal to your Excellency to prevail on FERMA to do a meaningful rehabilitation of the Amichi-Ekwulumili-Unubi-Uga axis of the Onitsha-Okigwe federal high way.  I am quite sure that this rehabilitation works was given to FERMA but for one day, we have never seen any FERMA official vehicle nor engineers doing the work.  Whether the work was subletted to an amateur contractor is what we don't know.  This is one of the major roads that if it is opened up through proper rehabilitation, a lot of business opportunities and employment avenues will be opened.  The work being done on that road leaves nothing to be desired.  Please come to our rescue.  I am aware that it is a Federal road, but I also know that you can do something to influence what is happening on that road.

THE NEW FACE OF BOKO HARAM:

When we said in 2011 that the boko haram insurgency is a calculated Islamic agenda of jihad and total islamization of the entire country, many people did not agree with us.  Now that fact is obvious to all and sundry.  Also when I hear people even Christian Clerics shamelessly declare that Islam is a religion of peace, I begin to wonder why we cannot stop deceiving ourselves and face the fact and say the truth.  Read the history and current stories of terrorism all over the world and discover who and which religion is associated with all that.  The latest video of the abducted Chibok schools girls showed that they have been forced to convert to Islam because almost those kidnapped are Christian young girls.  I am happy that the speech delivered in Bloomberg Conference recently by the former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair where he openly called upon the whole western world to rise and fight vehemently against Islamism, and Islamization of the world through extreme Islamism is showing that the world is now coming to terms with what  Islam stands for.

Now the boko haram sponsors and executors have modified their operational strategy by disguising and masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to unleash terror and mayhem on innocent and hapless Nigerians.  The level of unbridled temerity and sagacity with which these herdsmen are harassing their host communities even in South-East of Nigeria calls for an articulate move to checkmate them immediately.  They are not only lawless, but seem to be above the law.  They destroy farmlands of people with impunity.  If nothing tangible is done to stop this trend, we may soon experience what is happening in Kogi and Benue states.  I am happy that the speech delivered in Bloomberg Conference recently by the former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair where he openly called upon the whole western world to rise and fight vehemently against Islamism, and Islamization of the world through extreme Islamism is showing that the world is now coming to terms with what  Islam stands for.

Now the boko haram sponsors and executors have modified their operational strategy by disguising and masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to unleash terror and mayhem on innocent and hapless Nigerians.  The level of unbridled temerity and sagacity with which these herdsmen are harassing their host communities even in South-East of Nigeria calls for an articulate move to checkmate them immediately.  They are not only lawless, but seem to be above the law.  They destroy farmlands of people with impunity.  If nothing tangible is done to stop this trend, we may soon experience what is happening in Kogi and Benue states. 

 

2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION:

Politicians should learn to play politics according to the rules of the game.  The utterances of the opposition party in Nigeria have been great sources of worry to all the keen watchers of the political template in the country.  Oppositions in politics do not mean unreasonableness, desperation and senseless antagonism.  All these insecurity problems are not far-fetched from the desperation of the northern Muslim oligarchy.  No wonder one of the states in the north has as its axiom and slogan on their car plate numbers as, “Born to Rule”.  President Goodluck Jonathan should be courageous enough not to chicken out if he is convinced and willing to contest the 2015 presidential election.  All Nigerians are born to rule.  Some politicians from the South-South and South-East who have been bought over to play the spoilers game, and Judas' apostleship should have a rethink because posterity will judge everyone of us.

It is also pertinent for me to challenge the National Assembly to sanitize the political brigandry and baseless carpet-crossing from one political party to another by looking into our constitution and including in it a section that clearly spells out clear constitutional basis for defection.  To my mind, there is no way it can be right and constitutionally correct for a politician who won an election on the platform of a particular political party, will still hold and remain in the same position or office if he/she defects to another political party.  This is a political absurdity and constitutional aberration.  If you discover that your political party who gave you the mandate is not good enough for you again, it is simply honourable that you relinquish the position and mandate they gave you.  Let our politicians stop this confusion they are creating and the cat-race they are engaging in. 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE:

This is a welcome development in our country.  The President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan GCFR needs to be commended for his courage and open-heartedness for convening the Conference.  The only worry I have over the conference is why a whooping sum of twelve million naira should be given to each of the delegates for participating in that exercise.  What exactly is the basis for such prodigal spending when most of our youths and graduates are jobless and hungry.  Would it not have been more logical and economical for the states, and various bodies sending these honorable men and women to sponsor their trips?  Better still, since almost all the delegates come from the elite class, would it not have been more patriotic for them to take care of themselves?

I also beg the Federal government not to treat and handle the outcome of this important Conference like the recommendation of the Justice Oputa Panel and other commissions of Inquiries set up some time ago in this country which gulped billions of tax-payers money without implementation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SYNOD THEME:

I don't intend to do an exhaustive or detailed exposition on the theme because our Guest Preacher and Bible Study facilitator will have ample time to do that.

WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE?

The Bible Text:

                        “Now when Moses saw the people were unrestrained

                        [for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among

                        their enemies], then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp,

                        and said, “Whoever is on the LORD'S side – come to me!”  And

                        all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.”

                                                                        [Exodus 32:25 – 26] NKJV.

 

“And when Moses saw that the people were naked;

                        [for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame

                        among their enemies:]  Then Moses stood in the gate

                        of the Camp, and said, who is on the Lord's side? Let

                        him come unto me.  And all the sons of Levi gathered

                        themselves together unto him.”[Exodus 32:25 – 26] KJV.

 

PREAMBLE:        

Hebrew-speaking Jews have always used the initial words of the Book of Exodus as its title, calling it ve'ellehshemo, translated “and these are the names      “.  Because of its subject matter, Greek-speaking Jews entitled it Exodus in the Septuagint which means “departure”,  “exit”, or “outgoing”.

There are five major themes in the Pentateuch.  These include:

[1]       God's Covenant Promise to the patriarchs;

[2]       The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage;

[3]       The establishment of the great Mosaic covenant at Sinai, including moral,     civil and ceremonial law;

[4]       The years of judgment during the wandering in the wilderness; and

[5]       The final preparation for entering the promised land of Canaan.

Major treatment of Israel's redemption from Egyptian bondage and God's presentation of the law at Sinai is found in Exodus.  The book also looks toward the years spent in the wilderness and final preparation for entering Canaan.  Clearly the scarlet thread of redemption of mankind is unarguably woven into the fabric of this book.

Exodus 32 is a narrative about apostasy and renewal of Israel.  Although the nation Israel had an eternal relationship with God, sin persisted in their lives and it required diligence on their part to avoid or remove it.  Israel had presumed on their relationship with God and had not yet learned the unique character of their God.  Even Aaron, though a Priest needed to mature in his spiritual understanding.  Impatience and dissatisfaction with YAHWEH led to murmuring, which then advanced to disobedience, and finally to idolatry.  As it is with the nation of Israel, however, so is it with individual believers; sincere repentance eventually meets with forgiveness and restoration.  Obstinacy and adamancy had always met with destruction and divine punishment.

A sacred bull or calf was common to pagan fertility religion.  In disobedience of YAHWEH'S command in Exodus 20:4 – 6, the people seem to have equated Him with this calf as seen in verse 5.  Aaron made the whole sacrilege worse still through his refusal to accept responsibility and then call the people to order.  This is not different from what the present day Preachers and Church leaders are doing to the multitude of followers around them. God eventually came to punish the people for idolatry through extermination and annihilation.  The fate of Israel was placed in the hands of Moses just as the fate of many people in the world today is placed in the hands of their leaders especially the Church leaders.  If in His wrath God destroyed the nation because of their idolatry and apostasy, He would then fulfill the covenant through the descendants of Moses. 

However, Moses passed the test as a good and committed Political and Spiritual leader and proved that the preservation of his people was more important to him than the honour of becoming the founder of a new nation.  Moses appealed to three things he knew God highly valued:  [a] God's relationship with his people Israel; [b] God's reputation before the nations of the world vs. 12;  and

[c] The Lord's Covenant promises to the patriarchs vs. 13.  God is not to be understood merely as static, abstract perfection.  Rather, He is a dynamic Being who always acts in ways which are perfectly consistent with His eternal purpose and moral character.  The Ten Commandments were easily placed on both sides of two tablets small enough to fit in the ark [Deut. 10:1 – 5; Heb. 9:4].  The Lord not only delivered the thoughts, but He did so by writing the words Himself upon the stones [24:12; 31:18; Deut. 4:13]. 

The breaking of the tablets was symbolic of the breaking of the covenant between the people and God [19 – 20].  The burning and grinding of the Calf and the drinking of its ashes symbolized the ultimate repudiation of idolatry. The holy zeal of the tribe of Levi was rewarded by their call to serve God at the sanctuary [38:21; Num. 1:50 – 53; 8:1 – 19; 1 Chronicles 15:2; 23:24 – 32].  The context of Moses' command in verse 27 indicates that death was to be the immediate punishment for all who were found continuing in this immorality and idolatry and the drunken orgies which accompanied these pagan rites.

 

THE IMPLICATIONS AND DEMANDS OF THE THEME:

TO CHURCH LEADERS:

We live in a very noisy and emotionally charged society which attitude has translated into the Church of God.  The people are like sheep without a shepherd just as the Lord Jesus said in Mark 6:34.  They need sound and Bible-conscious spiritual leaders.  Aaron was a Priest of God consecrated to that highly esteemed office.  His office and personality were established and anchored on holiness and holy living [Exodus 28:1 - 20].  He was expected to teach the Israelites the attributes and demands of God.  He was present when God through Moses and him delivered His people from the bondage of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  He was also there when God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites on mountain Sinai in Exodus chapter 20.  Aaron knew that the first of those Ten Commandments said, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourselves a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow to them nor serve them” [Exodus 20:3 – 5].  Why on earth should a high Priest ignore such commandment which is very cardinal to the lives and existence of both himself and the people he was pastoring?  Aaron seemed to have valued human popularity above God's propriety.  He was a spiritual leader without conviction just as many Pastors, Preachers, Evangelists, Prophets, Bishops and General Overseers are today.  He was very comfortable in offending God instead of offending men.  Aaron was a crowd-oriented high priest who could modify the true worship of YAHWEH in order to maintain a large congregation.  He did not want to incur the wrath of the people, but he eventually incurred the wrath of the Almighty God.

The worship of God has been so dangerously modified by Pastors and Priests in or days that you cannot make any difference between the worship of idol and worship of God.  The leadership of Churches has socialized the 21st Century Church to the point that she has lost spiritual relevance and import.  There is much noise in the Church as was the case in the camp of the Israelites, but the truth is that there is no life.  The Lord of the Church has been made a stranger and a guest in His Church.  Syncretism in worship has been made to look like biblical contextualization and Godly acculturation and inculturation.  The clarion call from God to Church leaders and Pastors remain: “Who is on the Lord's side?”  Which Pastor will choose to be the odd-man out like Moses did when he refused to be called Pharaoh's son [Hebrews 11:24 – 27].  How many Church leaders today will be brave enough to risk their popularity among the elites and wealthy by teaching the undiluted and uncompromised truth of the word of God.  The apostle Paul sternly admonished Bishop Timothy in 11 Timothy chapter 4 thus:

                       

“Preach the Word; Be ready in season and out of season. 

                         Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and

                        teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure

                        sound doctrine, But according to their own desires, because

                        they have itching ears, they will turn their ears away from

                        the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful

                        in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist,

                        fulfill your ministry”     [11 Timothy 4:2 – 5].

 

No Preacher no matter how eloquent can be on the Lord's side if he is not ready to sacrifice himself and personal interest.  We cannot be on the Lord's side in the ministry if we have not formed and developed very solid and sound spiritual character.  Integrity remains the bedrock upon which successful and God-pleasing ministry is built and achieved.  Without an experiential regenerating encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ pruned and updated steadily through the daily study of and meditation on the word of God, no spiritual leader can be on the Lord's side.  Being on the Lord's side means standing for God, and standing with God no matter where the majority stand at all times and in all places.  The three Hebrew young men are typical examples of this [Daniel chapter 3].  Being on the Lord's side as a Minister of the gospel can expose you to financial trauma, denial of rights, materials, positions, preferment and favour.  But be assured that these denials cannot last because you are serving a faithful and living God who rewards His faithful servants at the appropriate time.  God is in dire need of Church leaders who will stand at the entrance of our Churches, and on the pulpits like Moses to challenge God's people to strict obedience, uncommon righteousness, contentment, and true worship of God through their preaching and life styles.   Apostle Paul did it as seen in 1 Corinthians 11:1; and 1 Thess. 2:10 when he said, “Imitate me just as I also imitate Christ Jesus”.  Ezra did it by bringing back the returnees from Babylonian captivity [Ezra 9 and 10] to true worship.

TO TRADITIONAL/POLITICAL LEADERS:

The traditional/political leaders are not left out in this decisive call.  The rate at which idolatry and idolatrous practices are growing and thriving in different towns and states leaves one in constant doubt whether we have traditional rulers who are Christians actually.  The very gross challenge confronting these highly revered traditional institutions now is to draw a very clear and distinct line between culture, tradition, and idolatry.  Majority if not all the traditional rulers we have at least in the South-East belong to one Christian denomination or another.  Why then is idolatry increasing daily in their domains.  If it is not ritual killing, it is sacrificing to one deity or god. Masquerade cult and masquerading have falsely been uploaded and branded as our culture.  Culture is defined as lifestyle, way of life, behaviour, habits, and heritage generally accepted in a society by the people for identification, and peaceful co-existence.  Tradition and custom are some things, habits, beliefs, procedures and practices which have been passed down through generations which have positive associations and impartations on the society.  The word of God says that when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked and ungodly rule, the people mourn and groan [Proverb 29:2]. 

Fighting against idolatry is a war that must be prosecuted by our Christian traditional rulers.  Why are people still subjected to forceful taking of oaths in shrines, caves, evil forests administered by pagan and fetish priests as a way of settling disputes, suspicions and accusations in our towns and villages?  King Hezekiah of Juda decided to be on the Lord's side as a ruler.  Immediately he was crowned king, the Bible had this to say about him:

                       

“In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened

                        the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.  Then

                        he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them

                        in the East square and said to them; Hear me, Levites! Now

                        sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD GOD

                        of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.

                          For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of

                        the LORD our GOD; they have forsaken Him, have turned their

                        faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and turned

                        their backs on Him. [2 Chronicles 29:3 – 6].

The great encouragement we can receive from this king is that though he succeeded a heathen and idolatrous king called Ahaz who it was that shut up the doors of the house of GOD and destroyed all the articles of worship, and followed after Syriangods, Hezekiah made a choice to be on the Lord's side [11 Chronicles 28:22 – 27].  This king Ahaz was so idolatrous that he built idol and pagan altars in every city and town in Judah.  Surprisingly, his son king Hezekiah made a detour and chose to restore the true worship of God.  How many of our traditional rulers are sitting on Godly thrones with Godly foundations?  How many like Hezekiah would bring in true priests of God in their domains to sanctify both themselves and the people they rule?  How many will carry away and destroy all the idolatrous rubbish in our towns and villages so that the favour and blessings of God will be restored to us.  The greatest strategy satan is using against our traditional rulers and towns is the baptism of idolatry to answer culture.  We as a people have very rich and wonderful cultures, customs and traditions.  Any culture that clashes with the word of God and the culture of God should not just be refused but be totally destroyed and exterminated.  No community will be less idolatrous than their king or traditional rulers.  To be an ‘Igwena-ejeuka' should be advanced to “Igwena-efe ma na-esokwa Christ”.  Churchmanship is different from Christianity.  During some heathen and pagan festivals in some towns, people are restrained from putting on their generators, or switching on the electric lights in their houses at night, yet the traditional ruler of such a town is purported to be a Christian.  Who is on the Lord's side?  The time to make that decision and declaration is now.

Our political leaders have turned the whole exercise into an idolatrous piece.  Many government houses are under the control of satanic powers through occultism and occult membership of our leaders.  People are subjected to Satanic and idolatrous oaths if they want any political appointments or contest any election.  Political god-fathers have become the largest customers of witch-doctors, pagan priests and native doctors yet they still dole out heavy donations to Churches, and even build Churches.  Who is on the Lord's side?  Jesus said,

“I am the way, the Truth, and the Life” [John14:6].  When men who have missed the way have become our leaders, definitely we must arrive at the wrong destinations.  Do we have Christian politicians in our society today? Let us not deceive ourselves, what we have is Politian-Church goers.  When elections are around the corner, they fill our Churches and become emergency Christians.  Who among them are on the Lord's side who will say no to rigging, thurgery, killings and assassinations?  God is still looking for political leaders and politicians who do politics to honour God.  The sons of Levi took a drastic decision to be on the Lord's side.  Are you ready to massacre your selfish and delightful ambitions so as to please God in your office?

TO ALL CHRISTIANS AND CHURCH MEMBERS:

In all spheres of life and human endeavours, God is in dire need of people who will willingly and consciously resolve to be on the Lord's side.  Why many have not been on the Lord's side as demanded by God through Moses in our Synod theme in Exodus 32:26 is because people especially children of God focus now on immediate felt needs.  They also suffer memory failure.  All of us like the Israelites are victims of this.  We easily forget who we are in Christ, and God's merciful dealings with us in the past years.  As a result, we seek alternative gods whenever we are confronted with a problem or challenge.  We also deviate from being on the Lord's side because we always feel insecure.  God is looking for Public and Civil Servants , Traders and businessmen and women, artisans, professionals, students, drivers, apprentices, husbands, wives, spinsters and bachelors who will be on His side to do His will and His work. 

To be on the Lord's side, one must do the following:

[i]        Separate yourself regularly from the crowd and the world [Exodus 32:26b;

            33:7]. The key expression in Exodus 33:7 is “Everyone who sought the           LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. 

[ii]       Seek God with all your heart [33:7]. This means that you must pursue            Truth over popularity.  In doing that self-emptying and sacrifice overrides comfort and convenience.

[iii]      You must make a public declaration of your faith, and be watched by the      public [33:8; Luke 19:1 – 10].

[iv]      You must learn to listen and obey God's word and voice [33:9].  Be ready      to practice the patience of silence and submission to God's will.

[v]       Enter into Covenant partnership with God [33:10 – 11]. This covenant           demands that you must be faithful and committed at all times in doing what pleases God.  Being on the Lord's side does not have nor make      provision for break period or sabbatical season.

[vi]      You must enthrone and exalt the word of God far and above every human   philosophy or opinion of the multitude.  [Joshua 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:15].

[vii]     You must die to self, the world, and the flesh.  [Exodus 32:27 – 28;      Colossian 3:3; Galatians 2:20].

BLESSINGS OF BEING ON THE LORD'S SIDE:

Even though it is not an easy thing to be on the Lord's side, yet anyone who succeeds in doing that, there are tremendous and enduring blessings to enjoy. 

These include:

[a]       God will always bestow continual special all-round blessings on such   people [Exodus 32:29; Genesis 22:1 – end].

[b]       God will do whatever He can to protect and secure such people in times        of danger and calamity.  [Daniel 3:19 – 25; 6:18 – 23].

[c]       Such people are blessed by God with an oath and a vow.  [Gen. 22:16–18].

[d]       Unusual promotion and Divine visitation accompany such people.        [Genesis 39:39 – 45].

[e]       God gives and assigns special ministries and duties to them. [Exodus    38:21; Numbers 1:50 – 53; 1 Chronicles 15:2].

[f]        Their names are written in God's book of life.  [Exodus 32:32 – 33].

[g]       They always enjoy peace, favour and prosperity from God.  [11 Kings 20:1   – 4;  11 Chronicles 26:1 – 5].

 

 

CONCLUSION:

Who is on the Lord's side is a timely call to all of us.  The standard of Christianity has been compromised.  Idolatry and idolatrous practices are being perpetrated in high and low places.  Noisy commotion in Churches has been mistaken for Revival.  Holiness has been slaughtered on the altar of popularity, materialism and liberalism.  Christian discipline has been branded obsolete conservatism. Gospel singers have translated into Gospel artistes.  Preachers have become entertainers and comedians.  Mammon has taken the place of Godliness and Righteousness in our Churches.  Idolatry is wrongly christened socialization and cultural revival.  Who will stand at the gate like Moses and rebuke the madness of the prophets, Priests, and God's people?  Oh! that there will be men and women in this Synod who will rise like the Levites, be loyal like the Rechabites, faithful like Moses, prayerful like Elijah, consistent like Apostle Paul, and resolute like our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ so that Satan's army that is planning to overrun the Church of Jesus Christ can be stopped and the Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and maker where righteousness and righteous living will become the order of the day.  Who is on the Lord's side?  Let him declare it today.

Please join me as we sing this hymn:

 


 

ABU 223:

1.        Onye diri Jisus,

            Onye  gef'Eze?

            Onye genye aka

            Kpota ndi ozo?

            Onye garap'uwa,

            Che nd'iro iru?

            Onye diri Jisus

            N'jereY'ozi?

            Koros:- Site n'olu ebere,

                        N'amara-I di nso,

                        AyinadiriJisus:

                        Jisus, ayibunke-I!

2.        O bugh n'ih'otuto

            M'ob'okpu-eze,

            K'ayi ji bata n'agha,

            Nab'abu ogu;

            Ma n'ih'ihu-n'anya

            O ji nwuru ayi:

            Onye Jisus kporo

            Aghagh iso Ya.

            Koros:-  Site n'ihu-n'anya,

                            N'amara-I di nso,

                            Ayi nadiri Jisus;

                            Jisus, ayi bu nke-I!

3.        Jisus, o bughi ego

            I ji gbaput'ayi,

            Kama obora-ndu,

            Ibu okp'eze-I.

            Were ngozi mejue

            Ndi nabiakute-I;

            Gi mere k'ayi kwere,

            Me k'ayi pua n'oru.

            Koros:-  Site nangbaputa-I,

                             N'amara-I di nso,

                             Ayi nadiri Jisus:

                             Jisus, ayi bu nke-I!

 

4.        Ogu gesiike,

            Nd'iro gerinne,

            Ma h'apugh imeri

            Ndi-agha nk'Eze.

            Nmeri di n'okpuru

            Okoloto-Ya;

            Ayi aghaghimeri

            N'ezi-okwu-Ya.

            Koros:- Onu k'ayi jibilie;

                            N'amara-I di nso,

                            Ayi nadiri Jisus:

                           Jisus, ayi bu nke-I!

5.        Ibu ndi-agha-Ya

            K'aroputar'ayi,

            Ndi Ony'isi agha

            Tukwasir'obi;

            K'ikeghar'igwu ayi

            N'ilu-ogu-Ya;

            Ayi ganuolu-Ya,

            Ayi geme dimkpa!

            Koros:-  Jisus, I gedeb'ayi

                           N'amara-I di nso!

                           Ayi gadiri Jisus:

  Jisus, nke-I mgbe dum!                            Amen.

 

 

 


 

SS &S 792:

1.        Who is on the Lord's side?

            Who will serve the King?

            Who will be His helpers?

            Other lives to bring?

            Who will leave the world's          side?

            Who will face the foe?

            Who is on the Lord's side?

            Who for Him will go?

 

            Who is on the Lord's side?

            Who will serve the King?

            Who will be His helpers?

            Other lives to bring?

            By Thy grand redemption,

            By Thy grace divine,

            We are on the Lord's side,

            Saviour we are Thine.

 

2.        Not for weight of glory,

            Not for crown and palm,

            Enter we the army,

            Raise the warrior psalm,

            But for love that claimeth

            Lives for whom He died:

            He whom Jesus nameth

            Must be on His side!

3.        Jesus, Thou hast bought us,

            Not with gold or gem,

            But with Thine own life-blood,

            For Thy diadem;

            With thy blessing filling,

            All who come to Thee,

            Thou hast made us willing,

            Thou hast made us free.

4.        Fierce may be the conflict,

            Strong may be the foe;

            But the King's own army

            None can overthrow;

            Round His standard ranging,

            Victory is secure,

            For His truth unchanging

            Makes the triumph sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Thank you immensely for your Patience and kind Attention.

Remain eternally blessed and rapturable.

 

Your Bishop and Friend,

 

+ Ephraim Amichi

   7th June, 2014.