A PASTORAL LETTER FROM HIS LORDSHIP, THE RT. REV'D. EPHRAIM IKEAKOR AFTER THE THIRD SESSION OF THE SECOND SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF AMICHI HELD AT IMMANUEL CHURCH, EKWULUMILI FROM WEDNESDAY 4TH - SUNDAY 8TH JUNE 2014.
To all the saints militant in the Anglican Diocese of Amichi.
Greetings of grace and peace from God the father of us all and from Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith. I am greatly delighted to bring you good tidings following the successful conclusion of the third session of the second synod of our great Diocese. God has been gracious and faithful to us all the year round and we continue to confess our dependence on Him. He has been our Ebenezer.
I also wish to immensely thank all our members who have stood by us, supporting God's work through all the thick and thin. Your continued support accounts for the many successes we have recorded in various aspects of the life of our Diocese. May the good Lord continue to replenish you in Jesus name. Amen.
The theme of our Diocesan Synod this year “Who is on the Lord's side?” (Exd. 32:26) aptly captures our heart desires and yearnings as we steadily follow God's guidance. We are in the sixth year of our existence as a Diocese. Over the yesteryears, we have taken time to teach, preach, educate, mobilize and encourage our members to practice biblical Christianity. As a Diocese we entered into covenant with God that nothing less than or other than the supremacy of the scripture will be accepted in this Diocese. We have systematically followed up that vow through teachings, seminars, workshops, crusades, meetings etc. It is therefore my conviction that we have come to a point where individual members of our church will make personal decisions in their walk and relationship with God. This is why we are asking this very important question “Who is on the Lord's side?”
In the cause of the just concluded synod, this subject was thoroughly explored through in-depth expositions, systematic Bible studies, thought provoking seminars and discussion sessions. Therefore, may I restate here that practices such as worship, affinity, allegiance, homage etc to idols, deities or shrines are abominable acts. Consulting of medium, masquerading, “ozo” title taking, Salaka, libation Asala and other pagan festivals have no place in biblical Christianity. To this end, the Diocese of Amichi henceforth, shall not turn a blind eye to such idolatrous and or syncretic practices. Instead, we are making a return to the biblical practice of church discipline.
Therefore, any of our members who is found to be involved in masquerading whether actively participating or sponsoring shall lose his rights and privileges as a communicant. Such a person shall no longer be eligible to be a member of the Parochial Church Committee or any other official position in the church. In the event of death of such an individual, the church shall have nothing to do with the burial.
The same sanction applies to any member of our Diocese who is found to be an Ozo title holder or one who sues another to any deity. God alone deserves our allegiance and loyalty.
I want to use this medium to revisit the lingering issue of clearance in our churches. It is unfortunate that most of our members are very reluctant to offer reasonable financial support to their churches or fulfil their membership obligations. However, they are very keen at claiming their membership rights and privileges.
Therefore, may I restate that any member who fails to renew his membership for two successive years is no longer our member and the church owes him no burial obligations. Where a deceased is found to be a member, all other financial indebtedness on him and that of members of his immediate family must be paid before the church will participate in the burial. It is not the duty of any branch chairman to issue clearance for burial. That responsibility lies with the parish priest and members of his Parochial Church Committee.
In view of the concerted satanic agenda to mutilate the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ once delivered to us occasioned by the mad rush to embrace modern trends in communication technology, it is a policy in the Diocese of Amichi that nobody whether clergy or lay is allowed to read lessons, preach or conduct service with ICT facilities like I-pad, cell-phones, laptop etc.
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.
The Anglican Church operates 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.
As part of our efforts to maintain the rich Anglican heritage, henceforth any Anglican in this Diocese who wants to communicate during Holy communion services must dress in white. We may however accommodate people who visit us occasionally from other Dioceses.
Finally, I wish to observe with deep pains in my heart the apathy to the life and welfare of the church on the part of male members of our church especially our abroad members. It is sad to note that our men have abdicated their God given positions and responsibilities as heads and leaders of the church. I therefore call on all the male members of our church to rise from their slumber and take up the challenge of building the church of God in their various local churches. May I remind you that east or west, home is the best.
Dear people of God, I urge you to remain steadfast to our faith in preserving and propagating the faith of our fathers once delivered to all the saints. As we all await the great appearing of our master and Lord Jesus Christ, let me charge all of you to remain resolute and committed to true and unshakable faithfulness to our faith and heritage. Let us hold firmly to the practice of unadulterated faith.
To all the saints who love and hope for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour, grace be with you all. Amen.
Your friend and Bishop,
Rt. Rev'd. Ephraim Ikeakor.
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Amichi