2015 BISHOP'S ADDRESS

 

 

CHURCH OF NIGERIA

[ANGLICAN COMMUNION]

 

 

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

 

PRESENTED BY

 

HIS LORDSHIP,

RT. REVD. E.O. IKEAKOR

BISHOP, DIOCESE OF AMICHI.

 

TO THE

 

1ST SESSION OF THE THIRD SYNOD

 

THEME:

 

“I KNOW YOUR WORKS …

LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES OF SMYRNA, PERGAMOS, SARDIS, AND LAODICEA.”  [REVELATION 2 & 3].

 

 

DATE:     SATURDAY 13TH JUNE, 2015.

 

VENUE:   ST. SIMON'S ANGLICAN CHURCH, EZINIFITE,

                NNEWI-SOUTH L.G.A. ANAMBRA STATE.

 

 

 

SYNOD PRAYER:

Almighty and Gracious God, the Hope of all who put their trust in you, we sincerely thank and glorify you for all your mercies, blessings, and Graces upon our lives, families, nation, and Diocese.  As we have gathered for the first session of the third Synod of this Diocese, we beseech you humbly to be with us in your power.  Guide and guard our thoughts and deliberations.  Grant us the honesty of opinions, transparency of heart, and holiness of life in all we say and do in this Synod.  Make us to understand that you know all our doings, and motives in doing them, so that we can serve you with sincerity and commitment so as to receive good eternal reward from you at last.  We ask all these through your only Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit both now and forever.  Amen.

 

 

GREETINGS:

Dear People of God, we happily and heartily thank the Almighty God for mercifully preserving our lives to see and be partakers in the first session of our third Synod.  May all Glory, Praise, and Exaltation belong to Him alone both now and always.  Amen.

We respectfully welcome the Executive Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano to this august Synod assembly with his galaxy of lieutenants, and members of the State executive council holding here at St. Simon's Anglican Church, Ezinifite in Nnewi-South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

We in the same vein gladly welcome the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Dr. Nkem Okeke to the Synod.  Let us also say a very big welcome to the immediate past governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi for finding time to grace this occasion today.

On a very special note, we joyfully welcome our father in the Lord, His Grace, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi – The Dean, Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion], Archbishop of Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Aguata to the Synod.  We at this point say a very ovatious congratulation to him on his election as the new Dean of the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  May the triple Grace to faithfully serve the Lord in these three capacities be always available to you in the name of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.  Amen.

We are pleased to welcome all Archbishops and Bishops of our Church, who have found time to be with us today.  To all other distinguished guests, Bishop's Nominees, and Synod delegates, we are immeasurably encouraged by your presence, and positive response to our invitation.  We have not taken for granted the presence of our Royal fathers especially, His Royal Highness, Igwe Samuel Anayo Obika, Ezeoha II of Ezinifite who lavishly received the Bishop, his wife and the Synod  delegates in his palace on arrival on Wednesday 10th June, 2015.  We cannot have the unexplainable lapse of forgetting to welcome in a very wonderful manner, my wife, Mama Amichi Diocese and President of Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild; Dame Nkem Ikeakor.

The Diocesan Council of Knights, the Diocesan Chancellor and our Legal team, the academia; business men and women, the Clergy and their wives, the gentlemen of the Press and indeed everyone present here; you are indeed highly welcome.  May the peace of God, and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be continually multiplied upon all of you as we fellowship in His presence in this Synod both now and always.  Amen.

 

 

SYNOD RESOURCE PERSONS:

[a]      SYNOD GUEST PREACHER:

The Synod Guest Preacher in this first session of the third Synod is a well known preacher of the Gospel, our brother, and friend, His Lordship, the Rt. Revd. Dr. Samuel Chukwudi Ezeofor.  Bishop Samuel Ezeofor was born on 8th May, 1967 to Ichie Noel and Mrs. Juliana Ezeofor of Ezioko village, Oko in the present Orumba North Local Government Council of Anambra State.  His birth brought tremendous joy to the family and many relatives because it was a long awaited blessing from God.  His parents had been in marriage for ten [10] years without a fruit of the womb.  Samuel was introduced to the Church early in life by his parents and particularly his mother.  He attended virtually all the activities in the Church and grew up to be acquainted with the Church and her activities.  He was a Choir boy, Brigade boy, an APA boy, an AYF boy, and he grew in them to the glory of God.  He attended Okoko Primary School, and Central School, Oko for his primary education from where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate.  He attended Aguata High School for his secondary school education and obtained his West African School Certificate in 1985.  He proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got his first degree with first class honours division.  He later went to University of Ibadan; and Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan where he got his second and third degrees between 1990 and 1995.  Samuel was made a deacon, and also ordained a Priest in the Diocese of Akure in 1994 and 1995 respectively by the Lord Bishop of Akure Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Gbonigi.  He served in the Cathedral Church of St. David, Akure; Chapel of Restoration, Akure as a Priest while lecturing in Archbishop Vinning College of Theology, Akure.

Samuel left Akure in 1998 for the Diocese of Nnewi under The Rt. Revd. Prof.  G.I.N. Okpala.  He served in The Cathedral Church of St. Mary, Nnewi; St. Mary's Church, Isseke from where he was preferred and collated an Archdeacon in 2000.  He also served as Archdeacon of Ihiala, and Oraifite Archdeaconries respectively.  It was while he was in Oraifite that Bishop Samuel was elected, consecrated, and enthroned as the pioneer Bishop of Ogbaru Diocese in 2007.

Rt. Revd. Samuel .C. Ezeofor has served the Church in various capacities from childhood in his local Church, St. John the Divine Church, Oko to secondary school, university, National Youth Service, and he continues to serve.  He is currently the Chairman, EFAC Eastern Bloc; Vice Chairman EFAC, Nigeria; National AYF Patron; and Patron Scripture Union, Onitsha Area.  The preaching of the Gospel has taken him beyond the shores of Nigeria to more than twenty-five nations of the world in five continents.  His passion is how to grow strong disciples for Christ, good Church and society leaders; strong and virile Christian marriages and homes.  This vision drives him in whatever he does today.  What Samuel thinks is the greatest experience in his life is the event that took place in his life on 30th December, 1983 which is the date of his second birth.  It is that singular experience and encounter on that day that has made him what he has become today.

Bishop Samuel has authored a number of books, while some are still in the pipeline.  Among his book titles are: “Made in Heaven”, “Living with Eternity in View”, “The Battle for Light”, “Beyond Conventional Christianity”, “In Tithes and Offerings”.

Samuel is married to one female wife, Mrs. Chinyere Hulda Ezeofor with whom he has been serving the Lord as an ordained Priest for the past twenty-one years, and they are blessed with five wonderful and promising children.

We welcome officially Rt. Dr. Revd. Samuel .C.  Ezeofor to our Synod, and also thank God for what He has used this his servant to impact on us since Thursday.

 

THE SYNOD BIBLE STUDY FACILITATOR:

The Bible study facilitator for this Synod is Ven. Chika Udochukwu Mbeyi.  Ven. Chika Mbeyi was born into the family of Mr. & Mrs. Josiah and Theresa Mbeyi both of blessed memory on 9th June, 1973.  He hails from Osina in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State. He was, born in Kontagora in Niger State, and was baptized on 25th November, 1973 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Kontagora [Now Cathedral].  Chika attended Central School Kontagora for his primary school education.  He later enrolled in secondary commercial school, Osina for his secondary education.  In 1994, Chika secured admission into Imo State University where he read Medical Laboratory Sciences.  He graduated in 1999, and in 2000 he did his National Youth Service in Kwara State.  Chika received call to the ordained ministry in 1994, and in October 1999 he was employed as a Church Teacher in the Diocese of Ideato.  Between 1990 and 2000, Ven. Chika served as a Church Teacher in St. John's Anglican Church, Osina as well as a Laboratory scientist at Osina Community Hospital, and Ajaebionu Psychiatric Hospital, all in Osina.  When Chika was posted to Kwara State for his National Youth Service Programme, he was officially introduced to the then Bishop of Kwara Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Jeremiah Fabuluje by the then Bishop of Ideato Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Godson Echefu [Retired].  He served as a Church Teacher at Chapel of Ascension, Ilorin, and at the same time as Laboratory scientist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.  Chika found favour before God and the Bishop of Kwara Diocese who sent him to Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan for his Theological and ordination training in 2001. He was made a deacon on 6th July 2003; and ordained Priest on 22nd June 2004 by The Rt. Revd. Jeremiah Fabuluje, Bishop of Kwara Diocese.

In 2005, Chika Mbeyi moved down to the Diocese of Abakaliki.  He was posted to All Saints' Cathedral, Abakaliki where he served as a curate under Ven. Ephraim .O. Ikeakor [Now Bishop] who was the Cathedral Archdeacon/ Administrator.  According to Ven. Chika Mbeyi, it was his work with and under Ven. Ephraim .O.  Ikeakor that sharpened and shaped his Priestly ministry.  On 11th November, 2007, Chika was collated and installed the first Archdeacon of Igbeagu Archdeaconry by the Rt. Revd. Benson C. B. Onyeibor, the retired Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese.  Ven. Chika has served as Archdeacon of Ndiagu, Kpirikpiri, and Umuezeoka Archdeaconries at various times.  In January, 2015, Ven. Chika Mbeyi moved to the Diocese of Amichi.  He is presently serving at St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Unubi.

He was the Chaplain of Anglican Youth Fellowship while in Kwara Diocese.  In Abakaliki Diocese, Ven Chika Mbeyi served as the Director Diocesan HIV/AIDS Intervention Programme 2005 – 2008; Chairman of Diocesan Synod Planning Committee 2009 – 20014; Chaplain Social Welfare 2010 – 2014.  In September 1990, Chika surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and was born again.  It was a very significant encounter that turned his life around for good.  He became a member of Scripture Union where he later became the group prayer coordinator.  He was also one of the pioneer members of EFAC in Ideato Diocese.  He was the general Prayer coordinator of St. John's Anglican Church, Osina EFAC Home and Abroad.  He also served in Anglican Youth Fellowship for many years at various levels and capacities.

Ven. Chika Mbeyi is married to Mrs. Chibuzo .N. Mbeyi, and the marriage is blessed with children. 

We thank God for the solemn and dynamic way Ven. Chika led us in the Bible Study.  We both welcome you to our Diocese, and appreciate the Grace of God upon your life.  May your head never lack God's oil of anointing and favour.

 

THE VENUE OF THE SYNOD:

HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY AND ANGLICAN CHURCH IN EZINIFITE.

Ezinifite is one of the ten [10] communities that make up Nnewi-South Local Government Area of Anambra State.  The town is made up of four [4] quarters namely: Awor, Ifite, Umudiala, and Akala.  She has common boundary in the North with Osumenyi, North West with Ebenator, in the South with Amaruru in Imo State, and Lilu, in the West with Ukpor, and in the East with Akwaihedi.  The town is watered by three major rivers viz: Ulasi, Ofala, and Ahuma Mmiri.  She is adorned with natural terrain sloping to the South, East, and West.  The town is a source of sand and stone for building construction.  The traditional mainstay of the economy of the town is subsistent Agriculture.  The main products of the people include: yam, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, palm produce, pears, kola nuts, bitter cola, coconut, cherry, etc.  Some of them are produced in commercial quantity.

ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY:

Before the advent of Christianity in about 1917, the people of Ezinifite believed in many gods derivable from natural and phenomenal existence and exigencies of the people.  The people of Ezinifite before the advent of Christianity observed some festivals in honour of these deities.  Such festivals include: Ikpa nso, and Okpensi which were celebrated annually; and Asara festival which was celebrated every ten years.  The coming of Christianity reduced and indeed in some cases eliminated the importance which the people, the tradition and custom placed on these deities, and festivals attached to them.  Before the advent of Christianity, the entire community worshipped many man-made gods and goddesses which include: Ala, Nkwo, Okpii, Ulasi, Ohiaka, Unamiri and Ogwugwu.

The period before the coming of Christianity in Ezinifite could be properly described as “Dark Age”.  It was a period when twin babies and their mothers were killed.  Victims of illnesses like swollen limbs and stomachs, or those who were leprous were thrown away alive.  It was a period when slavery and outcasts caste were the order of the day.  It was also a period when kidnappers roamed the streets kidnapping and selling their victims.  These untold evils were ripe enough to force a sudden change in the social and religious structures and beliefs on the community, but the priests of the gods and goddesses became great stumbling blocks to any individual or groups that would rise up to suggest or bring about the needed change.  1917 was a great and remarkable year in the history of Ezinifite.  It was the year that the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was brought from Nnewi to Ezinifite town.  Hardworking and faith Christian youths led by Mr. Paul Ofoma, Japheth Onwuka, Job Nwilo, and Atusiuba from Umudim Nnewi stormed Ezinifite with the Gospel Good News.  These Christian youths had open-air preaching in the town for some months.  Late Elija Obianuka in Umudiala village offered his house as a place of worship every Sunday.  In 1918, a good number of Christian converts had been won for Christ.  A large place of worship became very necessary.  Amaoda Umuokwereogu in Umuerimanwa in Umudiala was secured and a mud Church building was erected.  The first station Catechist in the person of Mr. Emmanuel Okeke from Ojoto was posted to the Church.  Prominent among the early Christian converts were Elijah Obianuka, Abraham Ogbuchi, Abel Osueke, Osuogwugwu Ifediniru, Ezeokwesi Ifediniru, Timothy Nzotozi, Onwugamba Oguchi, and Aaron Ntuimonu. Others were Simeon Ibeh, Daniel Ibe, Hezekiah Ibe, Samuel Onwuasoigwe Okafor, Matthew Anolue, Gabriel Utokanandu Agbasimelo, Moses Onyekere, John Oraejesi, Josiah Emejuru, Joseph Anolue, Michael Ikegwuonu, Paul Emesie, Gabriel Etoniru, and Isaiah Obianuka.  The young Christian women converts who carried the Cross side by side the men counterparts include Udeze Ibe who was the first woman convert in the flock.  Others were Nwamaeru Obianuka, Mogo Chukwu Onwusobalu [now Mrs. Phina .M.  Umeike], Eunice Ibe, Nwodika Ikegwuonu, Sarah Ikegwuonu, Janet Oraejesi, Alice Onyekere and Nwamaeze Obianuka.  As a result of great increase in the number of converts, it became very necessary to set up a large Church building in a more spacious and central place.  The Church building was therefore transferred to Ugwuachi in Umudiala.  The Church was still in need of a more central place of worship for all the Christian converts in Ezinifite.  It was at that time that late Ezeomaram Ikegwuonu of Akabo Umudiala Ezinifite donated a parcel of land to the Christian converts for the purpose.

ERA OF PERSECUTION:

This great light of the Gospel and wind of change in Ezinifite became a threat to idol worshippers and the serving priests to such idols.  They saw the mass conversion of their devotees to Christianity as a great threat to their livelihood and economy.  They therefore went on demonstration against the new doctrine to the traditional ruler who was then a warrant Chief.  The Chief then promised the idol worshippers that he would soon destroy the new doctrine in the town.  In the bid to make his promise to the idol worshipper a reality, a law was made in the traditional circle through the warrant Chief that every able-bodied man should go and work for the traditional ruler on Sundays.  The Christians saw the “Work on Sunday” as a clever way to disrupt and destroy their Sunday Services.  They therefore decided to keep the Lord's Day holy because they were convinced that it was better to obey God than man.  Thus they dissociated themselves from the compulsory work on Sunday.  In 1920, the Chief's clerk from Obosi was compelled to summit names of all those who did not comply with the given order.  A total of twenty-three names were submitted and they were all arrested and sent to Oduga Court at Ihiala on charges of bringing in doctrines and customs new to Ezinifite in order to destroy the existing customs of the land.  They were pronounced guilty and sentenced to three months imprisonments without option of fines.  The yam barns of Nneani people were also completely burnt as a punishment to the village that was seen as the most disobedient to the warrant Chief. 

On the fifth day of their imprisonment, the station Catechist, Mr. Emmanuel Okeke went to Ekeze Nnewi and reported the matter to Revd. Abel .N. Ekpunobi who was the then resident Priest.  Revd. Ekpunobi wrote a letter mobilizing all Christian Churches in the area for fervent and continuous prayers for the release of the twenty-three Christians imprisoned.  He also applied in writing to the authorities concerned at Ihiala for the release of the imprisoned Christians arguing that they were not guilty of any offence.  An investigation was carried out and at the end, they were all released.  The warrant chief was ordered by the Court to pay the sum of “Nnu-ahia” [twenty pounds] to off-set the bill for feeding the Christians while they were in prison.  The final verdict and decision on the case greatly demoralized and humiliated the idol worshippers.

In 1922, the Christians were faced with another serious persecution.  The Christians from Umudiala community in Ezinifite collected cassava sticks from Nnewi and planted same in their farms.  By that time, it was adjudged an abomination in the town to touch cassava plant or eat cassava.  The Christians who planted the cassava were arrested and dragged to Oduga Court at Ihiala again.  They were charged with planting cassava on the land of ulasi, which was termed an abomination by the pagans in the town.  The case was won by the Christians on the ground that people have the right and freedom to plant and eat whatever they have in their farms.  That  verdict therefore became a great relief and light which then made cassava not only prominent but it became a staple food both in Ezinifite and the whole of Igbo land and beyond till date. 

In 1927, Mr. Jonah Okeke from Umudim Nnewi was posted to St. Simon's C.M.S. Church, Ezinifite as the station Catechist.  The Church at this time was facing another persecution and ordeal.  Initiation into the “Ozo” title society in Igbo land was full of some pagan practices.  As a result of huge financial burden carried by the initiation, the Ozo title society convinced the warrant Chief and traditional institution to make it a law that every Ozo initiate should be allowed to freely harvest people's oil palm fruits indiscriminately for about two to three months.  This was called “Igbu akwu Ozo”.  This was one of the ways the public indirectly contributed to and helped the Ozo title aspirant to meet up with the heavy Ozo title financial burden and expenses.  Late Mr. Michael Ikegwuonu of Akabo Umudiala refused to allow this group from harvesting his palm fruit freely.  He argued and maintained that Ozo title society was pagan and as such, Christians should never allow their palm fruits to be harvested for that purpose.  The local chieftains and promoters of the Ozo initiation saw this stand as a great slap and insult on the face of all Ozo titled men of Ezinifite.  Michael Ikegwuonu was dragged to Oduga Court where he was accused of trying to destroy the existing and established customs and tradition of the land.  He was sentenced though unfortunately to three months imprisonment.  He gladly accepted the verdict and served the jail term taking it as his own cross for defending his Christian faith and hope.  Despite these persecutions, the population of the Church was impressively increasing.  As a result of this exponential numerical growth, a new site was acquired at Onya-agu along Nkwo ozu/Abanator road [Now Mission Road].  The first two pieces of land were acquired from Umuokwereogu of Umudiala, and Okonkwo Madumere and Mgbemeje Onyeweli of Akabu.  Mr. Daniel Ibe of Nneani, Ifite donated a piece of land where he would have erected his personal house to the Church for the propagation of the Gospel.  Lands were also acquired from Amajiri Enwerem, and his brother Stephen Enwerem of Etiti Umudiala.  The acquisition of this new and imposing site aroused a great indignation on the part of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.  This jealous rush by the Roman Catholic Church members to secure a better and more spacious site for their denomination led to two years [1954–1956] of great bitterness, misunderstanding, suspicion, and hatred between the Anglicans, and the Roman Catholics.  It is noteworthy that late Mr. Stephen Enwerem's land deal with the Anglican Church earned him and his family an excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.  The members of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite welcomed him and his family members with very warm embrace.   His family house was burnt by the Roman Catholic.  The vicar in-charge, Ven. B.C. Nwosu accepted and took Mr. Stephen Enwerem and his family into his own home and family.  Later in 1958, Ven. B.C. Nwosu convinced the Diocese of the Niger to build a decent home for Enwerem's family.  The actual building of a larger Church structure at Onyagu was started. 

The first trained Catechist in the person of Mr. Chikwendu of Otolo Nnewi was posted to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite in 1967.  In 1969, Revd. F.A.A. Eriobuna who was a deacon then [now retired Archdeacon from Ihiala] was posted to the Church as the first Clergyman who worked in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  In 1972, the Diocese on the Niger withdrew the District status accorded to St. Simon's Church, due to their inability to build a befitting vicarage.  After much fruitless protests from the members, the people eventually accepted the challenge.  The vicarage building was completed in 1979.  In 1980, Revd. T.I. Umeh [now Venerable] from Ezinifite Aguata was posted to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  His posting heralded the restoration of District status to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  Revd. T. I.  Umeh during his tenure revived the various organs in the Church which were until then not functional.  The Church organs revived included: Men's General Meeting, Women's General Meeting, Anglican Youth Fellowship, Boys' and Girls' Brigade, and Anglican Prayer Association for children.  St. Simon's Anglican Church District, Ezinifite was officially inaugurated on 26th February, 1984 under Revd. R.O. Ibeneme.  The building committee for the present Church building was set up in 1984 during Men's General Meeting Conference.  The chairman of the building committee was Mr. B.E. Ezekwere, Mr. Isreal .S. Uzoanekwe was the secretary, Mr. Cyprain Agbasimelo was the treasurer, while Fanny Udeagbara was the financial secretary.  The foundation stone of the Church was laid on 13th April, 1993 by The Rt. Revd. J.A. Onyemelukwe [Archbishop Emeritus of Province II, and the retired Bishop on the Niger Diocese] during Revd. Peter Nneji's tenure as the Priest in-charge.

Sir and Lady Louis .C. Okeke financed the roofing of this present Church, while late Mr. Ifeanyi Ezeamurunanma donated one hundred pews to the Church. This ultra modern new Church building was dedicated on 5th April, 1999 by His Lordship, Rt. Revd. Dr. G.I.N. Okpala when Revd. J.A. Ekwue from Nnobi was the vicar of the Church.  In December, 2006, a team of Diocesan Evangelists were sent by Nnewi Diocese to open a new branch Church of St. Simon's Anglican Church in Ifite, Ezinifite.  Evangelist Sunday Nkwor was posted to nurse the new Church station.  In 2007, a resident Church teacher, Mr. Ephraim Ekene Umeze was posted to the new Church as the first Church teacher.  The new Church station was christened St. Mary's Anglican Church, Ifite Ezinifite.  The first Priest in the person of Revd. Henry O.R. Amobi was posted to the young Church in January, 2008.  The Church was inaugurated a Parish in 2009 by His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor.  The foundation stone of the current Church building was also laid the same day by the Bishop.  The Church building is nearing completion.  The land on which the Church building is sited was donated by Ezekwere family.  Sir Samson Awiaka has undertaken the building of a befitting vicarage for the Church.  He has started the project, and we hope that it will not take long when he will complete the work.  The land on which the vicarage is being erected was donated by Mr. O.O. Ifediniru family. Sir B.E. Ezekwere donated a large parcel of land for Church hall.  The women Home and Abroad General Meeting is financing the building of a storey building Church hall.

Generally, the tenure of Revd. Canon Vincent Egwuenu [now Venerable] was a period of big development in the life of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  It was during his time that St. Mary's Church, Ifite, and St. Jude's Church, Akala were planted.  The period witnessed the donation of land by Anabara family of Akala for St. Jude's Church, Akala.  Ven. Egwuenu's era midwifed the building of the Church hall, Bible School, installation of cold room, sinking of bore holes, acquisition of three buses for the Church, and the building of second parsonage.  Ezinifite was elevated to Archdeaconry status, and was inaugurated in May, 2008 by His Lordship, Rt. Revd. Dr. G.I.N. Okpala, Bishop, Diocese of Nnewi, and Ven. V.C. Egwuenu was the pioneer Archdeacon.  St. Simon's  Church, Ezinifite hosted Nnewi Diocesan Synod in June, 2008.

At Organizations' level, the women general home and abroad meeting was introduced by late Madam Eunice Ibe who resided in Obosi with her husband then.  Madam Victoria Uba succeeded Madam Eunice Ibe, while Lady Elizabeth Okeke replaced Madam Victoria Uba.  Currently, Mrs. Beatrice Edokor is the chairperson of Women General Home and Abroad Meeting of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite, while Lady Elizabeth Okeke is that of St. Mary's Church, Ezinifite.

Anglican Youth Fellowship was established in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite in 1962 through the missionary work of A.Y.F of St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi under the leadership of Hon. N.N.C. Egbeigwe [now Sir].  The pioneer Chairman of Anglican Men's Christian Fellowship was Chief O.O. Ifediniru.

INDIGENOUS PRIESTS:

The underlisted Clergymen are the indigenes of Ezinifite serving in various Dioceses.

S/N

                    NAME

           DIOCESE

1.

Late Revd. G.U. Agbasimelo

Diocese of Owerri

2.

Late Revd. Canon Emmanuel Iloka

Diocese of Awka

3.

Revd. Canon Lawrence Oguanya

Calabar

4.

Ven. Ifeanyi Ezezue

Jebba

5.

Revd. Christopher Elochukwu

Amichi

6.

Revd. Canon Osita Ugokwe

Nike

7.

Revd Ikenna Ezeoke

Lagos/Aba Ngwa

8.

Revd. Okwuchukwu Uzuegbu

Arochukwu/Ohofia

9.

Revd. Uchenna Aguda

Ihiala

 

 

 

CHRONOLOGY OF PRIESTS WHO HAVE WORKED IN EZINIFITE:

S/N

                       NAME

         DATE

1.

Revd. F.A.A. Eriobuna

1969 – 1972

2.

Revd. T.I. Umeh

1980 – 1983

3.

Revd. R. O. Ibeneme

1984

4.

Revd. A.B.C. Okoli

1985 - 1989

5.

Revd. P.C.  Nneji

1990 – 1995

6.

Revd.  I.O. Igboanusi

1996

7.

Revd. J.A.  Ekwue

1997 - 1999

8.

Revd. B.O. Anene

2000 – 2002

9.

Ven. V. C. Egwuenu

2003 – 2008

10.

Revd. Oliver Chigbo [Curate]

2008 – 2010

11.

Revd. Zephniah Enemuo [Curate]

2007 – 2008

12.

Ven. David Nonyelum

2009 [Jan. – July]

13.

Ven. Ephraim Umeh

2009 [July – Dec. 2010.]

14.

Ven. Nnamdi Amutaigwe

2011 – date.

15.

Revd. Canon Silas Odimegwu [Curate]

2011 – 2013

16.

Revd. Robinson Oguchi [Curate]

2013 – date.

 

ST. MARY'S  CHURCH, EZINIFITE:

 

17.

Revd. Henry O.R. Amobi

2007 – 2010

18.

Revd. Christopher Elochukwu

2010 – 2011

19.

Revd. Chukwunonso Okwuora [now Mr.]

2011 – 2013

20.

Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie

2013 – date.

 

It is very pertinent to state clearly that this history is not exhaustive and very detailed. This is an abridged edition which obviously does not contain all that has transpired in the life and development of Ezinifite Anglican Communion.  Having made that observation, we at this point thank God immensely for the lives and times of men and women of Ezinifite who yielded their lives, times, talents and treasures for the propagation and growth of Christianity in this part of God's world.  May their labours never be in vain in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

CHURCH OF NIGERIA NEWS:

To the glory of God, some meetings and events took place at the national level of our Church, within the Synod year we are reviewing.  Such meetings and events are:

[a]      The General Synod:  The meeting of the General Synod of Church of      Nigeria [Anglican Communion] was held at the Cathedral Church of the    Good Shepherd, Enugu from 15th to 19th September, 2014.  It was hosted         by the entire Province of Enugu.  The theme of the Synod was “Thy             Kingdom Come”.  God in His mercy used the various resource persons to        bless His people abundantly through His word.

[b]      The Standing Committee Meeting:  The Meeting was hosted by the      Province of Bendel from 2nd to 6th February, 2015 at Bishop Agariwe      Memorial Church, Ughelli in the Diocese of Ughelli.  The theme of the            Standing Committee was “Watch and Pray”.  As we congratulate our   Primate for the success of these meetings, we shall not fail to commend the Provinces of Enugu, and Bendel, the Bishops, Clergy, and of course          the laity for their sacrifices and commitments  in making these meetings           very successful to the glory and honour of the Almighty God.

[c]      Bishops' Annual Retreat:   The 2015 edition of this special annual         gathering of Bishops of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] for       spiritual rejuvenation was held at the Ibru Centre Agbarha-otor from          Monday 5th to Saturday 10th January, 2015.  The theme we reflected and             deliberated on was: “21st Century God's Ambassador in the Anglican       Church”.  The main resource person in the Retreat was, The Most Revd.             Stanley Ntagali who is the Primate of Church of Uganda.  It was actually a time of spiritual refilling and refreshing for the Bishops after the      hustling and bustling of the end of the year activities.

[d]      Retirements, Elections, and Consecrations:  Some of our Bishops       through the mercy of God have attained, while others shall in a couple of           weeks attain the mandatory retirement age.   They include:

            [i]       Rt. Revd. Isaac Orama [Death]                        -           Uyo Diocese           

            [ii]      Rt. Revd. Jacob Fasipe                            -           Oyo Diocese                       

            [iii]     Rt. Revd. Prof. Anthony Nkwoka       -            Diocese of Niger West

            [iv]     Rt. Revd. Tanimu .S. Aduda                  -           Diocese of Gwagwalada

            [v]      Rt. Revd. Titus .O.B. Fajemirokun      -           Diocese of Ijebu North.

            The following Bishops were duly elected and consecrated to succeed the           retiring Bishops:

            [i]       Rt. Revd. Prince Asukwuo Antai        -           Diocese of Uyo

            [ii]      Rt. Revd. Dr. Williams Oluwarotimi Aladekugbe – Diocese of Oyo

            [iii]     Rt. Revd. Captain Johnson Ekwe        -           Diocese of Niger West

            [iv]     Rt. Revd. Moses Tabwaye                     -           Diocese of Gwagwalada

            [v]      Rt. Revd. Isaac Oluyamo                                    -           Diocese of Ijebu-North.

            While the new Bishops of Uyo, and Oyo Dioceses were consecrated at     the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, Enugu on 16th September,      2014; the new Bishops of Niger West, Gwagwalada, and Ijebu-North            Dioceses were consecrated at All Saints' Cathedral, Onitsha on Sunday          26th April, 2015 by His Grace, The Most Revd. Nicholas Oko, The Primate        of all Nigeria, assisted by many Archbishops and Bishops.  We        prayerfully congratulate these fathers in God and wish them and their   wives very faithful, fruitful, and impactful episcopacy.    

[e]      DIVCCON – Divine Commonwealth Conference.

            Once again, we thank God that this great spiritual convocation was given           birth to by Church of Nigeria through the instrumentality of our dear          Primate.  The 2014 edition of this Conference was held at the National          Christian centre, Abuja from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th November, 2014.    Because of the importance we have attached to this conference, we have       over the years made it compulsory for all the Clergymen in this Diocese             to attend and where possible with their wives.  Seasoned preachers and     teachers of the word were used by God to bless the conferees in the last       edition through sermons, seminars, prayers, and counseling.  Our             Diocese fully sponsored four youths to the last edition.  The 2015 Divine Commonwealth Conference has been slated for Monday 9th to Friday             13th November, 2015 at the same venue.  We still passionately appeal to            our lay members to identify with this great move of God, and become         active participants.  This year the Diocese intends to sponsor ten [10]       young people who will be selected from the Diocesan Youth Church             [DYC] due to their commitment and usefulness.

[f]       St. Matthias' Evangelism Fund:

            The 2015 edition of this fund collection was held on Sunday 22nd             February, 2015.  We must appreciate our Churches and institutions for          heeding to our passionate appeal to see the urgency and importance of       this fund.  The Diocese did very well in this year's exercise.  We must at     this point appreciate the efforts of the Principals of our Convent, and         Seminary who really mobilized the students to take part in the exercise.              Why we struggle so much in moving our adult Church members towards             voluntary and sacrificial giving is simply because, we failed to lay a firm             foundation on Giving for them at infancy and fragile level of their             growth. We commend the Priests for their doggedness and forthrightness in making the exercise this year a huge success.

 

PROVINCE OF THE NIGER MATTERS:

NEW DEAN:

Let us officially congratulate our Archbishop, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi on his appointment as the new Dean of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  We pray for greater Grace, wisdom, and strength to faithfully execute the demands of the new office to the Glory of God.

PROVINCIAL EPISCOPAL SYNOD AND COUNCIL MEETINGS:

During the year under review, the Province of the Niger held two Episcopal Synod/Council Meetings. On 11th and 12 September, 2014 the meeting was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John Ekwulobia.  The second meeting took place on 25th and 26th February, 2015 at the Cathedral Church of St. James, Atani in Ogbaru Diocese.   The meetings were hosted successfully and hospitably by the Dioceses of Aguata, and Ogbaru respectively.

 

All  ANGLICANS  PRAYER  RALLY:

Our province convened a very historic, glorious and eventful Prayer Rally at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka on Saturday November 1, 2014.  This maiden Prayer Rally involving All Anglicans in Anambra State even though a child of circumstance brought Anglicans from all walks of life together in the Spirit of oneness, prayer and worship. The attendance to this Prayer Rally was shockingly robust and intimidating.  The Province of the Niger for the first time prayed consciously together for our Church, State of Anambra, and Nigeria in general.  We thank God for our Archbishop, The most Revd. C.O. Efobi, all the Bishops in our Province, the entire Clergy and laity for making the Anglican Church proud through aggressive mass mobilization of our people.  May we remind us that we agreed to make this one day Prayer Rally an annual event which should be coming up on the Saturday closest to All Saints' Day.  Brethren, Prayer works more than every other weapon.  God no doubt answers the prayers of His people.  We sincerely thank the Archbishop, Bishops and the organizers of the event for giving us the privilege of preaching the sermon in this maiden edition.  The theme was, “Heal Our Land O Lord”.

PAUL UNIVERSITY, AWKA:

We congratulate the University for her maiden Convocation ceremony which was held on 10th October, 2014.  The institution has a new Vice Chancellor now in the person of Ven. Prof. Uche .C. Abanihe. Until his appointment, he was with the University of Ibadan.  Our honest prayer is that the Almighty God will use him to inject new life and vigour into this great citadel of learning which should be the pride of Anglicans in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of Nigeria. We appeal to all of us to be proud of this University by supporting it in all forms to succeed.

 

 

 

 

DIOCESE OF AMICHI => GENERAL OVERVIEW OF NOTABLE EVENTS, AND PROGRAMMES CUM PROJECTS:

[a]      CHURCH WORKERS AND WIVES RETREATS:

In the bid to remain refreshed, current, functional and relevant in our ministry and calling, the Diocese organizes periodic Church workers and wives Retreat, Seminar, and Meetings for the Clergy, Church-Teachers, and their wives.  Within the Synod year under focus we had some of such Retreats.  On Friday August 1, 2014, these servants of God converged at the Holy Child Convent, Amichi for such a soul-enriching retreat.  The topic of our deliberation was “The Clergyman as a Faith Contender”.  Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu spoke on the topic during which he outlined three major reasons every Clergyman should contend for the Faith.  They according to him include:

[i]       The devil is ceaselessly fighting hard against the Church.

[ii]      The devil through his subtle schemes has continued to lure believers to             lose their salvation and justification in Christ Jesus.

[iii]     The devil intimidates Christians through inflicting pains, dis-          appointments and failures.

He maintained that we can only contend effectively against the devil by correctly handling the word of God, and by co-ordinated fervent prayer lifestyle.

On the same day, a seminar titled “The Imperatives of Youth Ministry in the Future Life of the Anglican Church” was taken.  Revd. Chidi Enemo while handling the Seminar emphasized the strategic place of youths in the affairs of the family, Church, and society.  He opined that both the Church and society are losing grip on matters relating to young people.  The Church according to him should consciously and determinedly step in and rescue our youths from the devil.  The following steps were suggested to be taken in the aggressive rescue mission:

[a]      The battle should be taken to the home front.

[b]      Attention should be given to the needs of our youths in the Church          liturgy.

[c]       The Clergymen and other Church workers in the Anglican Church            should be trained and re-trained for efficient youth ministry, and          networking among themselves.

[d]      Youth friendly programmes should be organized in our Churches.

[e]      Parents and older members of our Church should set worthy examples             for the young people to emulate.

[f]       Very strong fervent Prayer altars should be raised for the young people            by parents and Priests in securing these youths.

The Seminar generated very serious discussion and deliberations as a result of the gravity and enormity of issues raised.  After a protracted discussion and brain-storming, Revd. Chidi Enemo was appointed by us to start and co-ordinate a Youth Church in the Diocese which shall be meeting once every month.  He was authorized to form a Youth Church Committee that will help to actualize the vision.  He was however cautioned with his committee members not to make the Youth Church a parallel Church to the main Church.  Also they were meant to know that the Youth Church should not conduct baptisms, weddings, child dedication, outing services, etc.  They should not also collect tithes and stewardship.  They are to take offerings, seed of faith, birthday celebrations and free-will donations. 

On 16th October, 2014, another Church workers and wives Retreat was held at St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi.  The theme of the Retreat was, “Avoiding the Woes of the Pharisees in the Ministry”.  The preacher, Ven. David Nonyelum said that our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced woes on the Pharisees because of the following:

[i]       Their lives and behaviour made it very difficult for others to embrace     the Gospel message.

[ii]      They devoured widows and vulnerable people morally and financially.

[iii]     They were converting people after their evil nature and ways thereby    making them twice the children of the devil and hell fire instead of making them disciples of God.

[iv]     They were doctrinally deficient.

[v]      They were paying attention to irrelevant things, ignoring the weightier matters of life and ministry.

He maintained that if present day ministers of the Gospel will avoid these woes, they must realize and be sure of God's agenda in their call and ministry.  They ought to remember the grievous vows and oaths they took, and endeavour to keep them.  They should also know that the ministry and flock do not belong to them.  Finally, they must remember that the day of Reckoning is coming.  It was actually a solemn moment of reflection on the grave demands of our ministry.

 

DIOCESAN CITY-WIDE CRUSADE:

The Diocese organized and executed a mega crusade tagged “Diocesan City-Wide Crusade” which took place from Thursday 28th August to Sunday 31st August, 2014.  The theme of the Crusade was “Who is on the Lord's Side?”  The major aim of the crusade was to instill the spirit of true and uncompromising worship in the life of Christians especially in our Diocese.  It was aimed at taking the theme of our Synod last year to the grassroots.  It was indeed a glorious Gospel outreach that dove-tailed into a great harvest of souls for Christ Jesus, and the strengthening of believers to stand for Jesus no matter what the multitude is doing.  The Crusade took place at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew field, Amichi.  Evangelist Nnamdi Eze preached on 28th and 29th August, while the Bishop of the Diocese of Amichi spoke on 30th and 31st August, 2014.  Bro. Cornelius Benjamin and Sis. Ugo Chinonyerem were the guest Gospel singers that led in praises.  Our own Bro. Ebere Ezeani; and Bro. Ugochukwu, and Diocesan Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir were also on ground which made the crusade very grand.  It was an overflowing mammoth crowd which made it the biggest Gospel Crusade held in Nnewi South local government area, Anambra State in recent years.  We truly appreciate the organizing committee led by Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka, the entire Clergymen, and other Church workers, the women ministry, and indeed all who made it a huge success.  It was truly impactful and the Church, Diocese, and society are still reaping its fruit till date.

 

2014  FIRST BORNS NIGHT:

As we have been made to know, this is a special programme designed for all the first male and female children of their parents.  The 2014 edition of this crucial and all-important programme was held on Friday 3rd December, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The theme for this edition was “Recovering the Excellency in you”.  It was another gathering of multitudes from various States of Nigeria and all walks of life.  His Lordship, the Rt. Revd. Ephraim .O. Ikeakor, Bishop of the Diocese of Amichi was the preacher.  In his sermon, the first borns were made to understand that they inherited four Divine positions by virtue of being the first borns.  The four divinely inherited positions are:

[i]       Every firstborn is the might of his/her family.

[ii]      Every firstborn is the beginning of strength of the family.

[iii]     Every firstborn is the excellency of dignity to his/her family.

[iv]     Every firstborn is the excellency of economic, financial, academic, and     spiritual power at all times for the family.

The Bishop emphasized regrettably that many firstborns have lost the excellency in them due to either carelessness, ignorance, and foolishness.  He maintained that no matter to what extent this excellency has been lost, it is still recoverable.  This can only be possible by totally and absolutely surrendering of their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the giver, sustainer, and recoverer of destinies and excellencies.  It was a night of fervent, aggressive, and powerful prayers for repositioning of the firstborns.  God really manifested His power in the midst of this special people called the firstborns.  A lot of the firstborns renewed their Covenant with God through accepting the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives as their Lord and Saviour.  We thank God for what He has done, and what He is still doing.  The 2015 Firstborns' Night has been slated for Friday 6th November, 2015 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi at 9.00 p.m.  Endeavour not to miss this special opportunity provided by God for all the first borns.

 

 

ADVENT ORDINATION/COLLATION OF ARCHDEACONS AND CANONS:

The 6th Advent Ordination of the Diocese took place on Sunday 6th December, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The retreatant was Ven. E.C. Nnoli.  Two Ordinands were made Deacons in the persons of:

            [a]      Revd. Ugonna Nwagu

            [b]      Revd. Arc. Nnamdi Unozo.

Those ordained Priests in the service were:

            [a]      Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem

            [b]      Revd. Chidi Enemo

            [c]       Revd. Chidozie Madu

            [d]      Revd. James Mbonu.

In the same service, the Bishop collated two Archdeacons and four Canons. Those collated Archdeacons were:

            [i]       Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka

            [ii]      Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo.

The four Priests collated Canons were:

            [i]       Revd. Patrick Onwuzurike

            [ii]      Revd. Marcel Ezegwu

            [iii]     Revd.  Fidelis Ogene

            [iv]     Revd. Bertram Muogbo.

 

PRAYER BREAKFAST:

This is a special prayer gathering of God's people every first day of the month at the Cathedral.  The programme has been in constant expansion in population of attendees.  People come from all the South-East States of Nigeria including Asaba to start each new month in the presence of the Almighty God.  To the Glory of God, testimonies abound in many quarters and lips of how this program has been of tremendous blessings to people and families.  It holds at 6.00 a.m. every first day of the month.  The last episode every year holds on 1st December every year and it is called, “Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving”.  It is usually an avenue to voluntarily and sincerely thank God for all His Mercies and Graces upon His children throughout the year.  2014 Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving took a new dimension whereby God's children were mobilized to really appreciate God sacrificially.  Families, Archdeaconries, individuals came with bountiful gifts in appreciation of God's goodness to them for the whole year.  In addition to other materials, and physical cash, a total of seventeen Cows were used for thanksgiving.  It was a very great moment of celebration of joy in the presence of God. The Bishop pronounced Episcopal and prophetic blessings on the people throughout the Christmas period.  We believe that this year's Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving will be greater in all ramifications. We implore all our members to develop the attitude of thanking and appreciating God through sacrificial giving.

Worthy of note is the Prophetic Prayer Breakfast of 2015.  This is the name tag for January Prayer Breakfast every year.  It takes place on 1st January of the year. This particular Prayer breakfast draws the biggest crowd of participants.  Those living very far away both in Nigeria and in Diaspora see it as the only opportunity they have in participating in this great move of God.  This year's Prophetic Prayer Breakfast was peculiar because of the uncertain political and economic atmosphere pervading the nation.  The topic of this year was, “Fear Not, It is the Year of the Lord”.  It is usually a time the Lord Bishop declares through prophetic utterances what God says to individuals, Church, and nation for the unfolding year.  The Bishop in his ministration gave six prophecies of what God said about the year 2015 and Nigeria thus:

[a]      2015 is a very peculiar and difficult year for Nigeria and Nigerians.

[b]      The beginning of this year shall be very difficult, turbulent, and      discouraging, yet it is a year of signs and wonders, victory and triumph.

[c]       God's Covenant children will live in peace.

[d]      Though the world economy including that of Nigeria will be shaky, but   God will bless his children.

[e]      Things that will cause fear will happen this year, but the children of God            should not fear.

[f]       Prayer of faith and absolute trust in God will open doors of peace and     success in Nigeria and for Nigerians.

We give God all the Glory that He does not lie.  Watching the turn of events in our dear country today, we can only raise our hands in worship to God because what He has said, that He has done.  May we advise those who don't have the CD of 2015 Prophetic Prayer Breakfast to pick a copy with our tape department outside.  What is said here is just a tip of the iceberg.  The full dose of what God said about our Nation and us are contained in the tape.

 

MAIDEN DIOCESAN SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS:

The maiden service of nine Lessons and Carols at the Diocesan level was held on Sunday 21st December, 2014 at the Cathedral.  It came up at 1.00 p.m.  His Excellency, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was the father of the day.  His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi also graced the occasion.  Among the dignitaries who read the lessons were: Dr. Nkem Okeke – The deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Nkem Ikeakor – Diocesan President of Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, Chief Dr. S.N. Okeke – Former Chairman, Nigeria Police Service Commission, Hon. Justice Gloria .C. Anulude – Chancellor, Diocese of Amichi, Sir Dr. Ugochukwu .C. Nzewi – Former Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, and others.  The service featured Choirs from various Archdeaconries, Diocesan Choir, Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir.  The guest Choirs that performed at the occasion were: St. Andrew's D.C.C. Choir, Nnewi, and the Gentle Voice Chorale.  It was a very special joyful moment as God's people sang the Christmas traditional hymns, anthems and songs to usher in the Christ of Christmas.  The Bishop delivered a very brief Christmas homily and blessed the congregation.  One of the outstanding things that happened in the service was the announcement made by the Bishop openly that no donation is allowed in the service.  According to the Bishop, it is time for the Church to start redeeming her smeared image by beginning to let people know that there are occasions people can come to Church, worship God with joy without being asked to raise one manner of fund or the other.

 

DIOCESAN SOLEMN ASSEMBLY/PRAYER RALLY:

This special Diocesan Prayer Rally took place on Saturday 7th February, 2015 at the Cathedral field.  The solemn assembly was occasioned by the recent wave of attacks on the Church by the masquerade cult in Amichi town.  This unprovoked wave of attacks culminated in the physical assault and molestation of one of our Priests – Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem on 22nd December, 2014.  As a result of this satanic, primordial, un-civilized development, the Bishop who strongly believes that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down the strongholds of the devil and his cohorts, called on our members to seek the face of God in prayer.  The situation degenerated to the point that our Cathedral was desecrated by the same masquerade cult by going inside the Cathedral premises and placing tender palm fronds on the sign post and gate of the Cathedral.  Every true Igbo son and daughter knows the meaning of such act on any land or property.  On that day, Anglican faithfuls across the Diocese and even beyond appeared in full black attire to call on God for divine help in the face of the mounting challenges and conspiracy facing His Church.  The Bishop preached on “Repentance, Restoration, and Resistance”.  He reiterated that repentance precedes restoration, and unless it takes place, the Church or the believer in Christ cannot resist the devil victoriously.  In highlighting what gives the devil and his agents the guts to attack the Church and her members successfully without any recompense from God, the Bishop lamented on the following:

[i]       The Church has become a conforming Church instead of a transforming            Church.

[ii]      The Church has abandoned her divine mandate of making disciples to    building of structures only. 

[iii]     The Church has become friendly with sin and idolatry instead of   rebuking sin, and rejecting idolatry.

[iv]     The Church has become the loin of the society instead of being the light of the world.

The Bishop said that he was still wandering in thought why any right-thinking person from Amichi town would conceive and execute the thought of attacking the Anglican Church in Amichi which has devoted her resources fully towards the building, blessing, development of the town in health sector, education, youth empowerment, preaching liberating Gospel of Christ, community social responsibility and welfare of widows and indigent members of the town.  However, the stunned Anglican faithfuls were led in series of intercessory prayers for the Church, Diocese, Anambra State, and the General elections.  May we herein thank all our members who genuinely stood with the Church in such time of distress and unexplainable attacks and confrontation.  The Almighty and Gracious God on whose side you stand will surely bless, preserve and protect you all in Jesus Christ Name.

Our fatherly counsel to our members especially the male folk is to stop joining darkness to fight the light or sitting on the face.  We know some of you are not happy with us because we maintain that we must divorce idolatry, syncretism, and ungodly traditions and culture from the Church, and true worship of God.  That does not bother us because we have a mandate from God on why He gave us the episcopacy of Amichi Diocese.  The worst enemies the Church has been having right from the birth of the Church were the enemies within and inside the Church.  The good news is that the Church of God will continue to move forward and even the very gates of hell cannot stop or hinder her.

 

DIOCESAN  VIGIL:

The Diocese has a bi-monthly prayer vigil which is co-ordinated by the Diocesan Prayer Co-coordinator, Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie.  After the last Synod, on Friday 12th September, 2014 the whole Diocese gathered in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite for prayers and intercession.  The preacher in this edition was Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka.  He spoke on “When the Church prays”.  According to him, the greatest weapon at the disposal of the Church is the weapon of Prayer.  Prayer has no substitute he maintained.  He stressed that while many people know about prayer; teach prayer, yet very few people actually pray.  He warned that those who refuse to pray in advance, eventually pray in arrears.  The next vigil took place at Holy Trinity Church, Utuh on Friday 20th March, 2015.  Revd. Chukwubuikem Isaiah spoke on “Undoing the Deeds of the Enemy”.   According to him, in order to undo anything, one must first of all identify the problem, identify the source of the problem and then face it by undoing them.  It was indeed a night of fervent and effectual prayers. 

 

2015 CLERGY, CHURCH TEACHERS, AND WIVES SET APART:

As a way of equipping ourselves for more effective and fruitful ministry and ministration for the year, all the Clergymen, Church teachers, and their wives together with the Bishop and his wife withdraw for three days for spiritual reflections, prayers and meditations every January.  2015 Church workers and wives set apart took place from Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th January, 2015 at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi.  The theme for this year's set apart was “Making your Calling and Election Sure” [1 Peter 1:10].  The guest preacher was Revd. Canon Goddy Iloka from Diocese on the Niger.  One of the cardinal points he stressed was that effective ministry begins with divine encounter.  He broke the theme into three sub-headings thus: [a] Our Calling, our Election, our Family, [b] The Anglican Priest and Competing interests, and [c] Raising Genuine disciples. Another resource person who spoke to us on “Financial Management and Investment” was Ven. Dave Udoezika from Diocese on the Niger.  He opened the eyes of the participants to why many Church workers suffer unduly immediately after retirement.  Some become constantly sick, depressed, and die suddenly if they don't have children who are well established.  According to him, poor planning, careless spending, ungodly and unnecessary emulation are some of the problems many Church workers and wives have when they are still active in ministry.  He vigorously encouraged the participants to begin to make wise and prudent financial decisions both for themselves, and the Church stations where they serve.  The Bible study which was centered on “The Leaven of the Pharisees”, was facilitated by Ven. P.C. Chukwuemeka.  The set apart generally was a very life enriching and transforming programme.

 

 

 

2015 COVENANT SUNDAY:

The Diocesan 2015 Covenant Sunday Service was held on Sunday 25th January, 2015 at the Cathedral.  The theme for the sermon on the occasion was “Fear Not” taken from Isaiah 41:10.  It was without doubt a great gathering of God's people from all over the Diocese and beyond.  In his sermon, the Bishop made the congregation to understand that whenever God says “Fear Not” to any person or people, it means that there are situations and circumstances that would cause fear.  He emphasized that Fear has been and still is the greatest weapon with which the devil stops God's children from moving forward and achieving meaningful success.  He challenged the worshippers to know that, for the fearful, obstacles are hindrances, but for the courageous, obstacles are opportunities.  The Bishop further expounded ten [10] things that happen to God's children who do not fear.  They include but not limited to:

[i]       God is always with them.

[ii]      God strengthens them.

[iii]     God will help them in all situations.

[iv]     God will uphold them with His righteous hand.

[v]      God becomes an enemy to all their enemies.

[vi]     God renews their strength for greater exploits.

[vii]    The Almighty God will always do things that will cause joy in their lives.

[viii]  God always intervenes on their behalf.

[ix]     God will never forsake them and their families.

[x]      God does unimaginable miracles in their lives.

According to him, the only fear approved for every child of God is to fear God.  The Bishop finally pronounced Episcopal and prophetic blessings on the mammoth crowd after leading them to the prayers of Covenant Renewal with God.  The people also made voluntary covenant commitments to the Lord God financially on behalf of themselves, families, businesses, and careers.

 

2015 COMBINED LENTEN MEDITATIONS:

This year's Diocesan Combined Lenten Meditations witnessed a massive participation from all Anglicans across the Diocese.  Every Wednesday throughout the lent period, the Diocese gathered as a family of faith in different parishes to meditate together on the word of God, chant the litany, and worship God in songs and hymns. This year's combined Lenten meditations took place in the following Churches:

[a]      25/02/2015 => Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  Revd. James Mbonu spoke on the topic, “I am with you says the Lord”.

[b]      04/03/2015 => Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili.  Ven. Chukwuebuka     Chukwuemeka preached on the topic, “Enjoying God's presence and companionship”.

[c]       11/03/2015 => Ebenezer Anglican Church, Unubi. Ven. David Nonyelum             Ministered on the topic, “Dangers of living without the Presence of God”.

[d]      18/03/2015 => St. Philip's Church, Amichi.  Ven. Chika Mbeyi spoke on            the topic, “Looking unto Jesus in times of trouble”.

[e]      On the 25th of March, 2015 at St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi during the last edition for the year, His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor spoke on “What is wrong with me?”  He wondered why there is so much prayers going on in the Church, yet not much answers are received.  The Bishop pointed out that no amount of prayers made in unrighteousness will make any difference.  He continued by saying that no problem is insurmountable when God's people pray in righteousness.  As has been the tradition, the last edition of the Combined Lenten Meditation is usually a time the Lord Bishop pronounces special Episcopal blessings on the congregation.  One of the special highlights of this year's last combined Lenten meditation was the presentation of a Camry Car donated by Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi to Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem to replace his car vandalized by the masquerade cult in Amichi on 22nd December, 2014.  This was not the first time Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi has made the Diocese to conclude Lenten meditation in a celebration and joyful mood.  In 2012, he denoted Audi 80 Car, and asked the Bishop to give same to any Clergyman he deemed proper to aid his work in the ministry.  In 2013, before the advent ordination, the same Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi brought a clean Audi 80 Car to the Bishop, and asked us to give it to one of the newly ordained that had no car.  Early this year, he gave a brand new LCD twenty one inches television, and 2600 generator to the Bishop to be given to two Clergymen of our choice who don't have such items.  We don't really know how exactly to thank this man who I see as a special gift to the Diocese.  He is neither a businessman, politician nor contractor but a retired public servant.  This man, and Engr. Sir C.O. Umeigbo are the only people who support “In Touch with God Radio/TV” Programmes financially.  May the Almighty reward you with long life, good health and finally eternal life in His Kingdom.  We just pray that other Knights will emulate men like these and others not mentioned here to move this Diocese forward.

 

2014 WIDOWS' CHRISTMAS PARTY:

This special welfare occasion was celebrated on the 23rd December, 2014 for all widows in the Diocese.   This has been an annual event which attracts even widows from other denominations.  The number of widows coming for the party increases greatly each year.  The event took place at the Cathedral.  The Bishop's wife, Dame Nkem Ikeakor led other Clergy wives in serving sumptuous meal to the widows.  Every widow after feeding, and being ministered to through the word of God went home with half bag of rice, and tin tomatoes.  They were prayed for by the Bishop and Clergy.  The number of widows coming for this event is greatly increasing every year and the Diocese is passionately appealing to public and welfare spirited individuals, and even companies to support this laudable project, and welfare evangelism.  This year we are expecting between eight hundred and one thousand widows.  So we need at least four hundred bags of rice, and four hundred cartons of small tin tomatoes. 

 

NIGHT OF EVIDENCE:

The 2015 Night of Evidence took place on Good Friday, 3rd April, 2015 at the Cathedral field.  It was an all night programme.  The theme for this year's Night of Evidence was “At His Name”.  The people were richly blessed through the word of God preached, and the Gospel singers who ministered that night.  The Bishop during his ministration spoke extensively on ten [10] things that happen at the mention of the Name of Jesus.  They include:

[a]      Deformed sinners become transformed saints.

[b]      Demons and demonic powers are overcome.

[c]       Prayers are answered.

[d]      Healings take place.

[e]      Deliverances take place.

[f]       Unusual miracles take place.

[g]      Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit and they speak in tongues.

[h]      Believers receive divine empowerment.

[i]       Christians receive divine security and immunity.

[j]       Satan the devil and all his principalities are resisted effectively, and          defeated.

A lot of people surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ during the Altar Call.  It was a glorious coming together of people from within and outside the Diocese, and Anambra State.  To God be all the glory and praise both now and always for what He is doing among His people.  There were testimonies of God's visitation in 2014 edition of the programme by different people. 

 

2015 DIOCESAN HARVEST:

Once every four years, the Diocese come together for a combined Diocesan Harvest and Bazaar.  This year's harvest took place on Easter Monday, 6th April, 2015.  The Church service took place in the Cathedral, while the sales and bazaar took place in the Cathedral field.  The guest preacher was Evang. Nnamdi Ezeh who spoke on “The God of Unpopular Demand”.  The theme of the Harvest was “HARVEST OF COSTLY SACRIFICE”.  The preacher said that it is the value we place on God that determines the gift we give to Him.  There were presentations of gifts and materials from Archdeaconries, Parishes, Churches, Church Institutions, families and individuals.  We want to thank and appreciate the Harvest Planning Committee chaired by Sir Chidi Onumajuru for their efforts and commitment in planning and executing the harvest.  A total of eleven million naira [N11m] was realized in the exercise.  We also appreciate few Knights and Ladies who were present in the occasion.  Our Church workers need special commendation for their determination in making the exercise a success to the extent it was.

 

WAILING WOMEN PRAYER SUMMIT:

This programme designed and packaged specifically for women and ladies is growing in leaps and bounds.  Both 2014 and 2015 editions witnessed attendance from neighbouring Cameroon, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.  Women and ladies also came in grooves from South-East, South-South, and South-West of Nigeria.  After last year's programme, the participants voluntarily made donations for the purchase of two hummer buses in commemoration of the tenth year anniversary of Wailing Women Prayer Summit.

To the Glory of God, the two buses have been bought since November last year.  This year's wailing women prayer summit took place from 14th to 17th May, 2017.  The theme was “All Manner of Prayers”.  Those that moderated and ministered during the programme were, Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie, Ven David Nonyelum, Ven. Chika Mbeyi, Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka, and Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor.  The programme this year can simply be described as awesome, glorious and powerful.  Indeed the programme witnessed all manner of prayers by the women, ladies and girls.  We had between three to four thousand persons in attendance.  On the last day, twenty-five women and ladies gave life inspiring and praise igniting testimonies.  God is indeed powerful and excellent in what He does in all generations. The Bishop pronounced great prophetic blessings and declarations throughout the programme on the women and their families.  As an appreciation for what God did for them, a donation to purchase over two thousand plastic chairs were made by the women.  May we here in a special way appreciate Evang. Kingsley Agbadike who is the chairman of Programme Packaging Team of the Bishop [PPT] for a job well executed.  The Bishop in his closing charge encouraged the women to maintain holiness and true righteousness at all times to sustain the miracles they received from God.  Many souls were won for Christ during the programme.

 

DIOCESAN COUNCIL OF KNIGHTS:

We want to most sincerely thank and appreciate the President of Diocesan Council of Knights, Sir Dr. Eddy Agbasimelo, and his executive committee members for the decent and mature manner they are piloting the affairs of the Council, and their cordial partnership with the Diocese.  The council has been partnering with the Diocese in the annual widows Christmas Party though not in a commensurate expected magnitude.  The Council has also undertaken to complete the fencing of the Diocesan Retreat Centre land at Ekwulumili since 2013.  We passionately appeal to the noble Knights to expedite action to complete the work this year.  The prompt payment of their assessment quota to the Diocese every year is also commendable.  The annual Retreat and Re-dedication service for 2015 took place from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd May, 2015 at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Akabu-Osumenyi.  Let us specially thank all those Knights and ladies who participated in the exercise.  It was a time of robust interaction and brainstorming between the Knights and the Bishop.  A lot of nagging issues and questions were put to rest through exhaustive explanation and elucidation by the Bishop.

However, we are not pleased one bit with the commitment and attitude of majority of the knights to both the affairs of the Knights in particular, and the Diocese at large.  There are Knights and ladies we met for the first time in that Retreat since the inception of the Diocese over six years ago.  It is our candid opinion and advice that there is no need for anyone to get involved in what he or she knows that he cannot do well or meet the demands of.  We have been very patient with these unconcerned, non-committed, unserious, and Ghost Knights and ladies.  Between now and December 31st, 2015, let all such concerned Knights and Ladies take a firm decision whether to be a Knight/ lady in this Diocese.  From January 2016, we shall be left with no other option than to derobe such unprofitable, faceless Knights. 

It is also very important to remind us again that even if you choose to de-register with our Diocesan Council, and at the same time remain active in your Diaspora Council, they can never be permitted to accord you any official rite and privilege in the event of any joyful or sorrowful occurrences to you within our Diocese.  In order to boost the membership and number of faithful and committed Knights in the Diocese, we intend to investiture another batch of Knights come 2016.  The selection process has been in progress, and will soon be concluded.  Our last investiture was in 2010.  The greater discouragement and disappointment came from the batch of 2010.  We therefore pray and beseech those Knights and Ladies found wanting to rise to the demand of the oath and vow of their investiture.  Those whose wives are active but the Knights themselves are not should be reminded that they, and not their wives are the Knights.  Their wives are just Ladies auxiliary whose role and functionality should be supportive.

 

WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS:

We are always grateful to God for the gift of the women folk to the Church.  The women organizations which include Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild have done great and wonderful things in the period under review.  The full report of their activities is contained in the Synod reports.  But permit us to inform this august audience that the women organizations during their last Diocesan Women Conference empowered fifty [50] indigent petty women traders with the sum of ten thousand naira [N10,000.=] each for their small businesses.  This was not a loan but free welfare and empowerment support.  The kind of joy and tears of joy this singular act of charity elucidated among the women, both the beneficiaries, their friends, and the women generally need only to be witnessed instead of being reported. The women organizations in their usual and traditional manner of support to the Diocese purchased about four hundred and fifty cartons of tin tomatoes for distribution to Widows during the 2014 Widows Christmas Party.  This was in addition to the sumptuous meal they prepared and served all the widows that were present at their own expense.  During the 2015 Mothering Sunday celebration, the women added another feather to their cap by selecting and visiting with fully loaded hampers mothers who are from eighty years and above; and the sick/indigent ones from all the Archdeaconries in the Diocese.  The President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, Dame Nkem Ikeakor, and all the Archdeacons wives were part of the visiting entourage.  They have invested much money in expanding their thirty thousand capacities Fishery which now has very standard and buoyant hatchery section.  They now sell fingerlings in thousands, smoked fish, and fresh fish in retail and wholesale.  The prompt payment of their assessment to the Diocese has been of immense assistance to the Diocese. They were the arrow head in the wide and virile publicity given to Wailing Women Prayer Summit.  They went to all the markets in all the towns that make up the Diocese.  The grand Rally and Publicity took them to Nnobi, Igboukwu, Uga, Umuchu, Umunze, Nnewi and Ukpor.  They are partnering with the Diocese in the building of a three-storey hostel at Master's Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  They have formed Prayer team at various levels which upholds the Church workers, Diocese, women, and their ministry in Prayer steadily.  Once again, we appreciate the work of the women organizations.  May God in His infinite mercy continue to bless the women without limit and boundaries in Jesus Christ Name.  Amen.

 

CONFIRMATION AND ADMISSIONS:

Within the year in review, the Confirmation, and Admissions schedules and statistics stand thus:

S/N

   

                         CHURCH

 

        DATE

CONFIR-

MATION

GIRLS'

GUILD

WOMEN'S

GUILD

MOTHERS'

UNION

 

AMCF

1.

ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH,  UNUBI

06/07/2014

11

8

1

-

-

2.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, AMICHI

10/08/2014

19

4

2

2

 

3.

ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH, EBENATOR

17/08/2014

15

1

1

-

-

4.

IMMANUEL CHURCH, AKWAIHEDI

24/08/2014

17

6

6

2

-

5.

ST. MARY'S CHURCH, EZINIFITE

21/09/2014

23

4

10

2

-

6.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

28/09/2014

11

3

4

1

-

7.

EBENEZER CHURCH, UNUBI

02/11/2014

24

7

5

2

-

8.

CATHEDRAL CH. OF ST. ANDREW, AMICHI

30/11/2014

38

3

2

3

-

9.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI

02/12/2014

61

-

-

-

-

10

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI

03/12/2014

33

28

-

-

-

11.

ALL SAINTS' CHURCH, EKWULUMILI

21/12/2014

20

11

2

2

-

12.

ST. SIMON'S CHURCH, EZINIFITE

15/02/2015

27

7

7

-

-

13.

ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

12/04/2015

15

13

5

1

-

 

TOTAL

 

314

95

45

15

4

 

 

 

 

IN TOUCH WITH GOD RADIO/TV.  MINISTRY:

By the special Grace of God, our Media Evangelism outreach is making greater impacts, and waves within South-East, South-South, and part of North Central zones of Nigeria.  One can now view some of our special programmes in Anglican Cable Network, Nigeria [ACNN].  We also expanded our target audience coverage and added another two radio stations.  In Touch with God Radio programme is now broadcast in the following Radio Stations:

[i]       BCA,  Umuahia                   88.1 FM, Umuahia [Saturday 6.30 – 7.00 a.m.]

[ii]      Purity FM, Awka              -  102.5 FM, Awka  [Sunday 8.30 – 9.00 p.m.]

[iii]     Unity FM, Abakaliki         -  101.5 FM, Abakaliki [Sunday 3.15 & 8.30 p.m.]

[iv]     Blaze Radio, Oraifite       -  91.5 FM, Oraifite  [Sunday7.00 – 7.30 p.m.]

[v]      Odenigbo Radio, Obosi   -  91.1 FM, Obosi  [Friday 7.00 – 7.30 p.m.]

We thank God for the testimonies of Salvation, Deliverance and Healings we receive as responses from our listeners.  It is needful here for us to thank Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi, and Engr. Sir C.O. Umeigbo who are the only individuals from our Diocese who have assisted the Diocese in sponsoring the programme.  May the good Lord continue to bless them and replenish them abundantly.  We still appeal to individuals and organization to join hands with us in taking the Gospel of God and His Christ to the corrupt, deformed, and perverse generation like ours.  The only true answer to the myriads of challenges and problems of man, humanity and society both now and always is the Word of God.  Let us use our resources to sponsor the Gospel.  The time to do that is now.

 

CLERGY MATTERS:

Even though this is not a cheering news, it has become absolutely necessary to bring to the notice of this assembly that we have withdrawn our Ordination License, and Letters of Order from Revd. Chukwunonso Ikenna Okwuorah.  We were left with this unsavory last option after we have tried pastorally for a long time to make him change his immoral and dubious lifestyle to no avail.  As this his way of life began to affect the Church negatively and terribly too, we took the hard decision to withdraw his Ordination License from him.  It is never the prayer of any Bishop that after few years of the Ordination of a Clergyman, he will withdraw his license.  Be it therefore known to all people that Mr. Chukwunonso .I. Okwuorah is no longer a Clergyman in the Diocese of Amichi. Any person dealing with him in that regard and capacity is deliberately doing that at his or her choice and risk.  This is important to mention because the said Chukwunonso Okwuorah has consciously refused to return our Ordination License to us as we demanded from him.  He is still parading himself as a Priest, and deceiving people out there.

In another development, Revd. Silas Odimegwu is no longer one of our Priests in this Diocese.  He came to us and demanded a letter of release from us, citing as his reason for leaving the Diocese that he is no longer inspired by our leadership.  He emphasized to me that he could not learn anything good from us; therefore it was better for him to relocate to another Diocese.  We gave him time to go and think about his decision, and after one week, he came back and insisted on his stance and demand.  We have therefore released him to the Diocese of Ogbaru where he claimed to have been absorbed by the Bishop.  His Canon status was withdrawn from him in line with Anglican tradition in which you don't transfer Preferrements to another Diocese.  It is left for the Bishop accepting the Clergy to prefer him if he finds his work satisfactory.  Let it be noted that there is no iota of truth in what Revd. Silas Odumegwu is saying to people that we sacked him from the Diocese.  It has also come to our knowledge that Revd. Silas is running a quasi-Prayer Ministry in Akwaihedi.  Let us advise him as a father to desist from creating problem in this Diocese where he voluntarily resigned from.  If he continues those his nefarious activities after this advise and warning in any part of the Diocese, we shall handle his case decisively and appropriately.

We wish to inform this Synod that we absorbed Ven. Chika Mbeyi into our Diocese in January, 2015.  He has since resumed his work at St. Andrew's Church, Unubi. Ven. and Mrs. Chika Mbeyi have worked with us closely since 2005.  He is an asset to the ministry by the Grace of God.  Incidentally, he is the Bible Study facilitator in this Synod.

 

 

DIOCESAN  ENDOWMENT  FUND:

This is the second year of the institution of this special fund with the approval of the Synod.  We thank God, and thank all of our members who have been faithful in contributing to this fund.  Remember that this Fund runs for three years only.  This simply means that the Endowment Fund will end in December, 2016.  The purpose of the Endowment Fund is to raise enough money to build, sustain and establish the Diocese financially.  It is also aimed at empowering the Diocese to become financially independent, and economically viable.  Surprisingly, at the time of writing this address, we have only raised the sum of nine million naira only [N9m] from all our members both at home and in Diaspora.  What exactly will nine million naira do in the financial empowerment of the Diocese? Our hearty appeal goes to all our members to make this arrangement a reality.  We have members who can give millions of naira personally towards that fund.  The time to do God's work is now.  Who knows whether you are a member of the Diocese for a time such as this? 

 

PROJECTS:

I.         HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI:

We continue to give all Glory and Thanks to the Almighty God for what He is doing in this great citadel of learning.  The recent UTME Examination result which was purely computer based showed a great and laudable performance by the students.  The least person scored one hundred and ninety-two [192] marks.  Many of the students that graduated last year secured admissions into various Universities and Institutions of Higher Learning.  The greatest and most pressing need of the Convent now is the provision of a befitting Chapel, and administrative office complex.  We appeal to all who can assist the Diocese in providing a place of worship for these wonderful young and promising damsels to please come up and assist us.   Because of the number of students in the school, there is no hall in the school that accommodates them for Sunday worship especially during the rainy season.  A total of two hundred and ninety-one [291] pupils are seeking admission into JSS 1 in the school in the current Joint Entrance Examination for Convents, and Seminaries.  We appreciate the good work of the Principal, Mrs. Ijeoma Ndoeche [JP], her team of staff, and The Board of Governors of the school ably led by Mrs. Chika Onwuka.

 

II.        MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI:

The school took its first Basic Education Certificate Examination [B.E.C.E] last June, and to the Glory of God their result was wonderful.  The three storey hostel building which was started last year is now 70% completed.  Hopefully, the facility will be ready by September this year, thereby putting to rest the challenge of hostel accommodation.  Almost all the furniture for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Building Technology laboratories have been procured.  Immediately the students pack into their new hostel block, the laboratories will be permanently and fully set up.  The gas and water piping of the Chemistry laboratory is in progress.  The school is always on her toes in terms of holding very impactful spiritual retreats and programmes for the students.  In the just concluded joint Entrance Examination for Convents, and Seminaries, two hundred and forty [240] male pupils from different parts of the country are seeking admission in JSS 1 of the School only.  We must specially commend the Principal of the school, Revd. Godson Ugochukwu, the Vice Principal, Engr. Mrs. Esther Ikedinma, all the Staff of the school, and the Board of Governors of the Seminary for the great and encouraging work they are doing in the school.  The P.T.A. of the school also needs exceptional commendation for the cooperation contributions, and partnership with the Diocese in the school.  The school is in dire need of Principal's house, staff quarters, and befitting Chapel for worship.  May the Almighty God move the hearts of our members who have both the mind, and financial where-withal to answer this clarion call in providing these facilities and structures for the school.  The most viable way and place to invest now is the lives and future of the Youths.

 

III.      DIOCESAN INTEGRATED FARM:

On 20th December, 2014 we in the company of the Clergy and Diocesan Board members commissioned and dedicated the Frozen Chicken section of the Farm.  The farm has also expanded to turkey farming in the poultry section, and the first batch of turkey was sold in the last quarter of last year.  On Monday 25th May, 2015, we dedicated the completed one storey building housing the Office complex, Administrative complex, and Staff quarters in the farm.  The fishery department has been expanded.  The farm now has a functional Hatchery section where they hatch and brood fingerlings for the farm, and other fish farmers.  Currently, they have in stock thousands of fingerlings which are of quality hybrid.  The Piggery department which is situated her in Ezinifite has around one hundred and fifty pigs in stock for sale.  They are also into Cassava and Garden egg farming.  Last year, almost all the people from within and outside Nnewi-South Local Government Area who had major occasions and events, got their garden eggs from the farm.  It is of special specie.  The fishery and poultry sections of the farm have been demarcated with wire gauze to restrict visitors from having unimpeded access into fragile and unauthorized areas of the farm.  Here in this Synod, we have asked the farm manager to make available to Synod delegates some of their products like eggs, chickens, fish, etc. for purchase.  At the appropriate time, we shall ask them to show us around.  Glowing tribute must be paid to the farm Manager, Mrs. Ngozi Akosa for deploying her professionalism ardently in running the Farm.

 

IV.      DIOCESAN SCHOOL OF NURSING/DIOCESAN HOSPITAL:

During the presentation of our Bishop's Charge to the Synod last year, we said that we have commenced the process of establishing a School of Nursing.  We also set up a Steering Committee to that effect which is headed by Mrs. Esther Maduka.  It is pertinent to let you know that we have reached an advanced stage in the vision and project.  The students' hostel which is a two storey building has been completed.  An ultra modern large Administrative Complex housing the staff offices, lecture halls and Principal's office is now ninety [90%] percent completed.  A pre-inspection visit has been paid to the school and hospital by the appropriate quarter.  Our request letter for final approval is now with the National Council of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Abuja. 

Following the pre-inspection visit, the team made some observations and recommendations of what we need to either put in place or upgrade in our hospital to hasten the approval.  By the Grace of God, most of these things have been put in place.  Practical Models, Necessary Books, and Equipments have been procured.  The Diocesan hospital has been undergoing a massive renovation as a result of the demand and directives given to the Diocese to make sure that we meet the specified and expected standard for the hospital and school of Nursing.  We are still very optimistic that the school of Nursing will take off in October this year.  Let us specially appreciate and thank His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State for the release of thirty million naira [N30m] for the Hospital Project.  Your Excellency, that money was a great source of relief to the Diocese, and it came at a very critical period.  It helped us in no small measure in continuing the work.  May God in His infinite Mercy reward you immensely for continuing the partnership between the Church, and Anambra State Government.  A look and proper valuation of the projects at the Hospital and School of Nursing will convince His Excellency and every other person that thirty million naira is just a tip of the iceberg considering the enormity and bogusness of the projects and their biting financial demands.  Let me appeal to our dear amiable Governor to just pay a brief working visit to the site. This will give you an overview and proper assessment of our demand vis-a-viz the amount of money you released to us.

The volume of work we have done in both the hospital and school of Nursing complex within this one year is not less than one hundred and twenty million naira [N120m].  The works and structures are there for all to see and evaluate.  We need concerted and allied assistance from both the Government, and Private individuals for the realization of this laudable vision.  We plead with our Governor to see the need to release more funds to the Diocese for this exercise.  This is actually what is known as Public Private Partnership Initiative [PPPI] which is the easiest and most reliable system of making the grassroots feel the impact of Government and Governance positively and practically.

We heartily express our unbridled gratitude to Dr. Azuka Nzewi who is based in UK for seeing our hospital as his pet project through the instrumentality of Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi.  Dr. Azuka Nzewi a few months ago brought in theatre equipments worth millions of naira for the hospital.  He has promised and undertaken to equip that theatre to a world-class standard.  He went further to take up the setting up and equipping the Maternity Ward to also world-class standard.  Recently, he brought in about twenty-five special beds for the Maternity ward. The oxygen piping from the theatre to the Maternity ward undertaken by him at a very whooping cost of money is about to commence.  He has appealed to us that this Maternity ward be named after their mother on completion, and we have granted such request.  Our prayer is that other members of this Diocese will see the need to partner with us in these projects by imbibing the think-home philosophy.  Our greatest joy and challenge in what the Nzewis are doing is that they do these things without any noise, and any demand of undue attention and publicity.  May God reward them accordingly in Jesus Christ Name.

Let me appreciate His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi [CON] for a donation of one million naira [N1m] in support of the roofing of the School of Nursing complex in January this year.  We thank Chief Ernest Ndukwe for giving the sum of one million naira [N1m] to support the purchase of some equipment for the School of Nursing.

The School of Nursing and the Hospital complex need a Chapel inside that premises.  There is also this demand of a 25-seater Coaster Bus, and a utility Car for the students, and principal respectively. We thank the Chairman of School of Nursing Steering Committee, Matron Esther Maduka, and her committee members for the good work they are doing, and their sacrifices.  The chairman of the Hospital Management Board, Sir Dr. Eddy Agbasimelo needs our special appreciation.  Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem who is the Hospital Administrator is doing no mean job in keeping the hospital afloat and functional.  The Medical Superintendent, Dr. Ageji Innocent deserves our special commendation.  We congratulate him also on his wedding which took place on 11th May, 2015.

 

V.        SURE ANCHOR MICRO FINANCE BANK:

In order to diversify the economic base of the Church, and also alleviate the sufferings of people living in Amichi and environs due to the absence of any bank especially Micro Finance Bank, the Diocese decided to embark on the establishment of a Micro Finance Bank.  A Steering Committee headed by Dr. Sir U.C. Nzewi was set up.  The Committee has vigorously and relentlessly pursued this project to the extent that we are on the last stage of take-off.  The name of the bank as shown above has been approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission.  The initial mandatory Capital deposit of twenty million naira has been paid to Central Bank of Nigeria.  The CBN has also written to us granting us Approval In Principle [AIP] to establish the said Bank.  Board Directors of the Banks has been appointed, and also screened and approved by CBN.  The take off location of the Bank has been secured, and our consultant from CBN has inspected the site and given his nod for it.  Renovation work on the site has started with the initial pay of a one year rent to the owners of the property. The final registration of the Bank with Corporate Affairs Commission is on going.  By the special Grace of God, the Bank will commence full operation on or before September, 2015.

 

VI.      OTHER PROJECTS:

The eleven plots of land we bought at Obiagu village, Amichi has now been fully surveyed, and fenced with gates installed.  The Fencing work at the proposed Bottle and Sachet Water site at Unubi has also been completed.  Special thanks from us goes to Igwe Unubi, and Unubi Development Union for fulfilling their promise of adding another one plot of land to the ones given to us already for that project.  We also thank them for wisely relocating the Masquerade Cult to another site from the project site. 

The construction of drainage system at our site for Diocesan Retreat Centre at Ekwulumili is almost completed.  This is a very capital intensive drainage to cushion the effect of erosion menace to the residents of that area.

 

VII.     WELFARE/CHARITY:

The Diocese in her bid to preach a wholistic Gospel in this generation is undertaking some welfare and charity packages for her members.  Currently, we have up to fifteen students we are sponsoring their education in Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and Secondary Schools.  We have refrained ourselves from making these names known in this address because we consider such an embarrassment to the beneficiaries.  The full names and records are available with the Accountant of the Diocese.  Furthermore, within the year under review, the Diocese through the Bishop helped five students to gain admission into the University.  We paid medical and hospital bills for some of our members.  The Diocese assisted seven youths to establish small businesses by supporting them with amount ranging from one hundred thousand naira to two hundred and fifty thousand naira each.  The Diocese has supported the Youth Church by buying full Gospel Band and Equipment for them for their programmes and Church services.  The Diocese built and handed over a modern four bedroom bungalow to a family at Obiagu-Amichi.  The house was dedicated on 20th December, 2014 in the company of the Clergy and Diocesan Board members.  The student that made the overall best result in WAEC last year, Miss Obele Nzube was appreciated by the Diocese by presenting to her a brand new Lap Top Computer.

We gave the sum of one million naira [N1m] each last year to three Clergymen to support them in the building of their family house in their home towns.  Even though this exercise is not captured in the Diocesan annual, we feel compelled to continue this act of Charity even in the face of discouraging attitudes and comments of some Clergymen.  We are working for God, and not for men's applause.  The following Clergymen are therefore requested to step up here and now to collect a cheque of one million naira each for their building project.      [a]   Ven. Godwin Okafor

                                    [b]   Ven. Anthony Uchemereole

                                    [c]   Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma.

Bishop's Chief Driver – Mr. Elijah Anyaegbu, and Bishop's Gateman – Mr. Innocent Aneke should also come up for a cheque of five hundred thousand naira each for their own housing projects.  Please this money is meant for nothing else but your house building.  Putting it into another project amounts to unfaithfulness.

 

OUR SPECIAL SORROWS:

In this past one year, some of our members from various Parishes and Archdeaconries went to be with the Lord through death.  We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to such families.  But permit me to mention some special cases of our members who we lost by death.  They are:

[a]      Pharm. Lady Christie Ogum – She was the Chairman, Board of Governors         of Holy Child Convent, Amichi.  A member of the Diocesan Board,     Finance Board, and Bishop's Nominee to the Synod.  She was buried on            22nd January, 2015 at Unubi.

[b]      Barr. Ifeanyichukwu E.C. Alajuluonye – He was the Legal Secretary of the          Diocese.  He was also a member of Board of Governors of Master's      Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  He was a Synod delegate and member.  He      was a member of the Diocesan Board, Finance Board, and was     responsible for proper registration of all landed property purchased by             the Diocese.  He was buried on 10th April, 2015.

[c]       Lady Dorathy Ubah –

[d]      Lady Grace Egwuonwu –

[e]      Sir Nwodika - 

Let us rise for one minute silence in honour of these wonderful servants of the Lord.

 

BISHOP'S EXAMINING CHAPLAINS:

We intend to appoint some trusted and experienced Clergymen to be Bishop's examining chaplains. They are:

[i]       Ven. David Nonyelum – Chairman

[ii]      Ven. Chika Mbeyi

[iii]     Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka

[iv]     Ven. Oliver Chigbo

[v]      Ven. Chukwuma Akam

[vi]     Ven.  Henry Amobi.

Their duties and Terms of Reference are:

[a]      To organize interviews for prospective Church Teachers and Catechists,            and make recommendation to the Bishop.

[b]      To organize Refresher Courses, In-service Training, Retreats and Lectures for Church teachers and Catechists.

[c]       Initiate, Co-ordinate and execute programmes for Lay Readers [both       new and old] in terms of trainings, workshops and retreats.

[d]      They are to examine and Recommend to the Bishop for final selection     candidates into Theological Institutions.

The appointment takes immediate effect from today. These and any other assignment the Bishop may deem fit to give to you are your terms of reference.

 

VICARAGE INSPECTION TASK FORCE:

Having observed with utter disgust the state of our vicarages, and attitude of Church workers who live in these houses, we have resolved to set up a Vicarage Inspection Task Force with Lady Ngozi Okeke as Chairman.  Their works include, but not limited to:

[a]      Conducting a periodic check on our vicarages to ascertain the degree of neatness of the house and premises.

[b]      To inspect thoroughly every vicarage two days to the vacation of such    vicarage by any Church worker going on transfer, and make sure that    the Church worker keep the vicarage very clean for the incoming           Church worker.

[c]       To pay unscheduled visits to vicarages to ascertain whether the     compound is habitually clean and decent, or is it inspection cleanness        we have.

[d]      To inspect the state of building structure and furniture owned by the      Church in order to determine their proper handling or otherwise.

[e]      To give periodic report to the Bishop, and where necessary recommend            to the Bishop appropriate action and punishment to be taken on    recalcitrant Church worker.

 

THE NIGERIA NATION:

ANAMBRA STATE:

We hereby commend our able Governor, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano for taking the bull by the horn by confronting the security challenges of Anambra State headlong.  Anambra State is adjudged one of the most secure states in Nigeria.  We also appreciate the governor for different developmental projects he is undertaking in various parts of Anambra State.  Your Excellency, we congratulate you on the just concluded State House of Assembly election in which all APGA candidates won the election.  Let us at this point encourage His Excellency to listen keenly to people's observation and even criticisms so as to be balanced in all your decisions and programmes.  Nobody is a complete repository and reservoir of knowledge of everything.  Again, may it please the governor to always remember the principle of Justice and Equity in his appointments in the state especially now that we are noticing reshuffle in your Cabinet.  Finally, we would like His Excellency as a seasoned technocrat to reconsider the idea of personalizing public institutions and social contracts trust of Governance whereby State-owned vehicles, structures and projects carry the inscription “Willie is Working”.  Sycophants won't let the governor know that this is not in tandem with social contract responsibility whereby one selected or elected person is holding brief on behalf of the rest of the governed through a communal trust and wilful surrendering of authority to the leader.  The better and more appropriate slogan technically and in the spirit of public service should be “Anambra State is Working”. 

Once again, we appeal to our governor not to neglect vibrant partnership with the Church in the execution of some of the state's projects especially in Education, and Health sectors.

 

2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS:

Our hearts as Nigerians should be filled with total gratitude to the Almighty God for proving some prophets of doom, and some Western historical and political Calendarists wrong who have concluded and prophesied that Nigeria will disintegrate beyond reconciliation in 2015 as a result of the general election.  Special thanks and commendation should also go to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President and commander in Chief of Federal Republic of Nigeria for his show of unusual and unpopular statesmanship which is non-existent in African political arena.  If President Jonathan had not conceded defeat to Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari, we would be singing a different song now.  Help me and permit me to hail Dr. Jonathan as the HERO OF PEACE IN AFRICA.  He has lived up to his assertion and confession.  “That his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”  God must bless President Goodluck Jonathan.  His is neither a case of cowardice nor weakness, but that of sacrificial and selfless leadership. 

As we congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, we need to remind them that all Nigerians are enthusiastically watching to benefit from the much orchestrated changes during their electioneering campaigns.  There are more to practical and impactful governance and leadership than overflow of talking, accusations, and derogation.  We are praying for them and our dear country Nigeria.  Political marauders and gladiators are not only still around but well grounded. As you settle down our dear President, focus on your Manifesto and agenda.  We have heard much, we now want to see much positively.  Forget witch hunt, and fight corruption decisively.  The lips approach, and media propaganda in the fight against corruption should be translated into meaningful actions.

I suggest that the fight against corruption can be commenced by publishing what actually are the monthly take homes and allowances of Senators, and members of House of Representatives.  Does our constitution say that Nigerians are not supposed to know what these honourable men and women of Red and Green Chambers take home as salaries and emoluments every month?  Your Excellency, the fight against terrorism, insurgency and militancy which has resulted in senseless shedding of blood of millions of innocent and defenseless Nigerians, should be pursued and executed with outstanding commitment, especially in equipping and motivation the army seriously.

At this juncture, the embarrassing menace of political defection to the ruling party by our politicians has become a gross source of worry and shame to all meaningful political watchers in our dear Country.  The simple message these politicians are passing to us is that we don't have Patriotic, Manifesto-based, National-interest-Driven politicians in our Country.  What we have are stomach-driven, selfish, job-seeking political couriers. It is indeed very shameful and discouraging.  Politics does not at anytime mean winning elections all the time, rather it is all about maintaining and pursuing political manifesto and conviction for the betterment of the society and humanity.  I have finally come to conclude that all Nigerians should now recline to Psalm 121.

 

LEST WE FORGET:

One of the greatest sins and negative traits of man has been the sin of Ingratitude.  Towards the second part of 2014, Nigerians woke up to their chilling shock, and met an unwanted and uninvited visitor and killer called EBOLA in our midst.  It was as if hell was let loose, and the flood gate of death and destruction was thrown open.  The result was fear, anguish, uncertainty, isolation, and dismembered of friendship and comradeship in every quarter including the church.  The situation appeared hopeless, judging from what was happening in Liberia, Senegal, Sierraleone and other neighbouring West African Countries.  The Church, and Christians in Nigeria took up the aggressive weapon of prayer and intercession.  The most embarrassing outcome of the EBOLA scourge to me was the fact that Nigerians learnt to wash hands, and observe very simple hygienic principles for fear of the Virus.  EBOLA has gone, do we still wash hands today?

What God did for us in Nigeria needs not be swept under the carpet.  Nigerians especially Christians need to set aside one Sunday in which to solemnly as in the spirit of worship ask the question of Psalm 116:12, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me [us].

This is pertinent because according to verse 3 of this Psalm, “The pangs of death surrounded us, And the pangs of sheol laid hold of us.  We sound trouble and sorrow”.  Indeed the LORD has delivered us from death.  Let Nigerians not forget to return hilarious praise to God.  Let us say like the Israelites in Exodus 15:1, and 11. 

I will sing unto the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously, The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.  Who is like unto Thee, O LORD, among the gods.  Who is like unto Thee, Glorious in Holiness,  Fearful in Praises, doing wonders.  We owe all thanks, Praise, Honour, Adoration and Reverence to the Almighty God. 

 Let us also appreciate the outgone President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministry of Health, and State Governors for their commitment and outrightness in providing logistics for the war against EBOLA.  EBOLA will never come back to us In Jesus Christ Name.

 

THE THEME OF THE SYNOD:

Last year, our Synod theme was, “Who is on the Lord's side”?  [Exodus 32:26].  Through the Sermons and Bible Study, we were challenged to reconsider our stand with Christ Jesus in the face of contending conflicting issues in the world beckoning for our attention and loyalty in worship.  This year, in this first session of the third Synod of our Diocese, we are led to consider the theme, “I Know your Works … Letters to the Churches in Smyrna; Pergamos; Sardis; and Laodicea”.  [Revelation 2 & 3].

BACKGROUND:

The book of Revelation differs from every other New Testament book.  It contains not only a message for the first century Church to whom it was written, but also to the Church through the ages, particularly those living in the end-times who will see Christ return to earth.  As an unwelcome harbinger of the earthly fate of Christians in almost every era, the reign of Domitian [A.D. 81–96] burst upon the Roman world at the death of his older brother Titus in A.D. 81. Domitian brought to imperial office a capacity for intellectual astuteness, bitterness and conceit.  As the later qualities grew, the cults of Caesar-worship thrived, Jewish communities were likely to suffer, but Christians with an intense evangelistic advocacy of their new faith were the inevitable targets of imperial harassment.  John the beloved disciple and apostle, the brother of James, and the son of Zebedee apparently was the only one of the twelve apostles still alive in AD. 90–96.  The aging apostle recorded in Revelation the hope of the Church and Israel, which Jesus Christ revealed [1:1] to him by an Angel through a series of breath taking visions.  Five times the book of Revelation is autographed by John [1.1; 4; 9; 21:2; 22:8].  Although there has never been unanimity concerning the date of Revelation, the majority of evangelical scholarship follows the affirmation of Irenaeus that the time and occasion for the writing was later portion of Domitian's reign [A.D. 90–96].  Characteristic of Domitian's assault on the embryonic Christian community was the practice of exile and banishment.  John wrote this epistle from exile on Patmos which was a roughly horseshoe-shaped rock-quarry island about six miles wide and ten miles long.

The apostle John, the author of this unique book wrote five books in the New Testament.  Revelation was his last, written just before his death.  The name “Revelation” as a title for the encyclical is derived from the Greek title “Kalupto”, “to veil”, and ‘Apo, “from” – hence, “to remove the veil” or “reveal”.  As the name of the book suggests, it is the revealing of Jesus to the inhabitants of the earth in the final days.  Revelation as a book can be said to be carrying five-fold messages and dimensions.  First, it is a book of Vision.  Second, it is a book of Virtue.  Third, it is a book about God's Verdict.  Fourth, it is a book about Vigour.  Finally, it is a book about Victory.   Revelation vividly portrays the imminent showdown between God and Satan in which God remains the ultimate ruler.

The cyclical epistle was addressed to seven Churches located on a major travel route connecting population centre of Asia Minor.  Dwelling amid the immorality of popular religions, the squalor of slavery with its dehumanizing effects the desperate delusion of the mystery religions, and the persecutions by the Jews and the emperor, the fledgling Christian assemblies of the Seven Asian cities continually stood in jeopardy.  The Revelation provides a message of comfort and a promise of the providential intervention of God in the affairs of men.  Triumphant vision and the promise of the ultimate defeat of evil enabled these early Christians to encounter successfully the challenges that greeted them.

In this book, John combines three types of literature, namely: Apocalyptic, Prophetic, and Epistolary.

 

 

 

HISTORY OF INTERPRETATION:

Because of the rich symbolism of the Apocalypse the interpretive approaches of the Christian community have differed radically.  There are four major interpretive approaches which are:

[a]      The Preterists: 

This view and approach was developed by the Jesuits and is still held by many in the Roman Church, and by some Protestants.     They maintain that all the events of Revelation were fulfilled during the days of either Nero or Domitian.  According to them the book is concerned only with events of the first century and as such it has no message for later generations.

 

[b]      The Historical Or Post-millennialism: 

This group asserts that Revelation is a panorama of Church history from the initiation of the apostolic era to the consummation of the age.  They believe that Christ will return at the end of the millennial age.  This position was espoused by Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and most of the reformers except the Anabaptists.

[c]      The Idealist or Amillenialism:

Their view is that there is no literal millennial reign of Christ on earth.  They posit that the Apocalypse is not to be construed as a representation of actual events, whether past or future.  The book is only a symbol or metaphor to depict the great struggle between good and evil.  This concept was spawned in the Alexandrian school of philosophy and theology by Origen, and is maintained by a host of liberal and some conservative Bible scholars today.  Again, this sect affirms that pagan philosophy and Christian philosophy do not mix.

[d]      The Futuristic or Premillennialism:

This group has the belief that Christ will return to usher in the millennial age.  According to them, beginning with chapter 4, the events described belong to the future age and constitute a marvelous prophecy of God's program for the consummation of the age.  This view has wide acceptance among evangelicals around the world.  Anabaptists of the Reformation era were futurists.  Numerous Church fathers from the initial Christian centuries also were advocates of this view.

CHOICE OF FOUR CHURCHES:

After a very prayerful and copious considerations and analysis of the current situations and attitudes of twenty-first century Church and Christians in general, and our Diocese in particular, we felt led and convinced that critically examining the content of the letters, the lives, and circumstance of four out of the seven Churches in Asia is very apt and instructive to us.  The four Churches we have chosen to look into the messages sent to them are: Smyrna; Pergamos; Sardis; and Laodicea.  We are not going to do an exhaustive exegesis on the letters to the Churches because we strongly believe that our main Synod Speaker, and the Synod Bible Study Facilitator will do justice to that.  Let us be reminded that for all the four Churches, there is one outstanding assertion, made by the Lord and Saviour of the Church, Jesus Christ through the apostle and elder John.  That assertion is, “I KNOW YOUR WORKS”.  What exactly does the Lord Jesus mean when He said to each Church, “I know your works”?   He is simply saying the following:

First, I am fully informed about you and all your activities both overt and covert ones. 

Second, I am well acquainted with all your ways and doings.

Thirdly, I am totally and assuredly familiar with your lifestyles, characters, experiences and circumstances in whatever geographical location you are at anytime.

Fourth, Jesus Christ is saying, I fully recognize and have full facts and knowledge of what you are facing and passing through.

Finally, the Lord of the Church is saying that He has taken full notice of the occurrences around you.  Having defined this all-important and critical assertion which is challenging to all, let us look at the Churches mentioned one after another.

THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA:  The message to the Church is seen in Revelation 2:8 – 11 which reads thus:

            “And to the Angel of the Church in Smyrna write,

             These things say the First and Last, who was dead, and came to life:

            “I Know your works, tribulation, and poverty [but you are rich]; and

            I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not,

            but are synagogues of Satan.  Do not fear any of those things which                       you are about to suffer.  Indeed the devil is about to throw some of                            you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation

            ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

            He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.        

             He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

 

The Church in Smyrna is also called the Persecuted Church.  One of the most famous Christians in the early Church was a famous Bishop called Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna in the early to mid second century who shaped the way the early Church developed throughout the region.  In Smyrna, there was a strong Jewish population which became very powerful too, and out of that Jewish population an early Church had grown.

As we see, there was persecution and suffering in Smyrna and so this description of Jesus speaks into that and brings them comfort.  “These are the words of Him who is the First and Last …”   This is the third time in two short chapters that the Lord Jesus has referred to Himself as the First and Last.  In 1:17, He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last”.  In 1:8, He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”.  For the Smyrneans, who are struggling against gross persecution, and the attendant discouragement emanating from thereof, it is an important description of God for them to hear: that, in their suffering and the uncertainty of their lives, God is the ultimate Power and Authority and He will surely prevail.  God is not impotent rather He is omnipotent.  He is all-powerful.  The Smyrneans should derive great comfort from that.  The Omnipotence of God, His all-powerful nature is proven in the fact that, as He says in verse 8, “(I) died and came back to life again”.  Even death could not hold any power over Him.  In 2:8, He is telling them that no matter what we suffer as a result of the Gospel and our Faith, death has no power, and it has been defeated. 

In verse 9, Jesus said, “I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet  you are still rich”!  The Christians in Smyrna were afflicted; they were suffering, just like the apostle John in chapter 1:9 had said He was their companion in their suffering.  This act of suffering with Christ, and for the Gospel is quite contrary to the dangerous utility Gospel and Prosperity message being advocated for by modern preachers these days.  We not only share in Christ's suffering, but also in His poverty.  In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Apostle Paul writes, “For you know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”.   The suffering that the Church in Smyrna was experiencing came from the hands of the Jewish population living in the city.  “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

Jewish violence against the Church was not untypical.  It was the Jewish authorities that joined hands with the Romans in persecuting Bishop Polycarp to death, and it was they who gathered the wood to burn him at the stake even though he was executed on the Sabbath.  In verse 9, Christ calls them “a synagogue of Satan”.  Satan is using many Church members today to slander both the Church and her leadership in order to perpetuate sin.  In verse 10 He says: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer”.  Actually, this accords with our own experience in the present age and circumstances.  All of us, in one way or another have endured tough times, sometimes periods of intense suffering, and we never knew how long that period will go on for or when it will end.  But we know from the promises of Scripture, and our past experiences of God in our lives that there is an end to every suffering, affliction, slandering, misrepresentation and ungodly gang-ups against us as Christians, and as a Diocese.  There is also a reward waiting for us if we endure with Patience and Faith.  Jesus tells them that they will inherit “The Crown of Life”.  Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:5, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules”.  Jesus concludes this message of encouragement to the Smyrneans, and by extension to all Christians in verse 11: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.  He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death”.

The message to the Church in Smyrna is a beautiful message of hope and consolation, and it is one that gives us real encouragement when we face suffering and misunderstanding in life.  Perhaps we are misunderstood for our faith and stand on Bible principles and practices which we uphold.  Perhaps our faith causes us to make life choices that result in economic struggle.  Christ is always with us and will see us through.

 

THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS:

The letter to this Church is the third of the seven letters.  They are known as the compromising Church.  Pergamos does not exist any longer. It was one of the most loyal cities to the Roman Empire.  They had been ruled by a family called the Attalids who were very intelligent and generous to the Pergamum people.  There was an incredible Altar in Pergamum, which can now be seen in Pergamum Museum in Berlin which was dedicated to the god Zeus.  In Pergamum, there was a strong Imperial Cult were each Roman citizen was required to stand regularly before a statue of the Emperor and offer  incense to the statue whilst saying, “Caesar is Lord”!

Verse 12: “To the Angel of the Church in Pergamum write: “These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword”.  So this letter to the Christians in Pergamum begins with a claim to authority and power which, given the cultural situation of the city with its many temples and shrines and false gods, is actually a very important claim.  So God has the sword and He is coming in judgment to Pergamum.  But why?  What was the problem in the Church?

Verse 13: “I know where you live – Where Satan has his throne”.  “I know where you live” is an important and interesting phrase because the word for “Live” here is not just about a place they inhabit.  It is stressing the fact they are settled there.  It is an active verb, which suggests that the Christians are settled down and quite happy to go about their everyday business in the place where Satan lives. Jesus was stressing their passivity in the face of all that is wrong in the place they live and worship, that they have become thoroughly compromised.  This is just a pictorial representation of the present day Church and Christians where compromise has been an acceptable lifestyle.  Pergamos was the site of the famous temple of Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing.  The city was full of idolatry.

It is worthy of note that a remnant of Christians in Pergamum Church had tried very hard to remain pure and how hard it must have been for them in that environment.  In verse 13, Jesus speaks to the faithful few and says: “Yet you remain true to my name.  You did not deny or renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness who was put to death in your city-where Satan dwells”.  We don't know anything about Antipas but early Church records suggest he was roasted alive on a spit.  The name Antipas in Greek actually means “against all”.  Antipas was the martyr who stood against everything that was not the truth of the Christian faith.  The present day Church needs many Antipases now that so many idolatrous temples have been brought into the Church.  Antipas was a Christian who was prepared to stand up for what he believed not minding the consequences, and even the opinion of the multitude.  It is most likely that Antipas was a Christian who refused to declare “Caesar is Lord”.  Faithful Christians in the city were not bowed under by the threat of death themselves and they had remained true to the name of Christ and did not renounce their faith.  The NIV Bible translates the verse this way, “You remain true to my name”, but in the Greek, it says, “You grasp my name” or “You cling to my name”.  This means that in all the problems they face, with all the false gods around them and the persecution they encounter, they still cling on to God and they won't let go of Him, no matter what.  The yawning question to us in this Synod is: “Do we still have Antipas who will stand for Christ no matter the threat and humiliation”?  If yes, where are they?  Compromise and conformity have become the greatest ravaging chronic diseases molesting and mortifying the twenty-first century Church, and Christians.

After this commendation and encouragement, their major problems were noted thus in verse 14: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you … “You have people among you who hold to the teaching of  Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.  Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans”.  

First of all, what was Balaam's teaching to Balak?  The doctrine of Balaam links a philosophy which was rampant in the Church at Pergamos with one of the most shameful incidents in the history of Israel recorded in Numbers 22; 23; and 31:15 & 16 in which Balaam counselled Balak to employ Moabite women to seduce the men of Israel which culminated in disaster for God's people.  A sinister doctrine of sensuality and antinomianism [opposition to all law] was being propagated and tolerated at Pergamos.   This is the replica of modern liberalism being preached and propagated among Christians by the new breed Pentecostal propagandists.  While some believers were holding to the teaching of Christ, others were holding to the teaching of Balaam.  The major aim of Balaam's teaching was to create stumbling-blocks for the people of God so they would trip over and fall away from the faith.  Through their immoral sexual acts with the Moabite women, the men of Israel followed them to worship idols.

Just as Adam and Eve were seduced away from obedience to the word of God, so the teaching of Balaam was seducing Christians in Pergamum away from obedience.  Have Christians in our generation and Church members not been seduced through the teaching that idolatry and culture are the same time?  The well-packaged lectures and teachings on neo-paganism, post-modernism lifestyle and secular humanism are very decent subtle ways that the teaching of Balaam has resurfaced and gained ground in our Church today. 

“So, there is a temple to Zeus on the hill: that is not bad.  Is it?  So, there is a temple of Dionysius: so drunkenness is not bad at all after all.  So there is the healing sanctuary of Asclepius:  It cannot do any harm”.  Gentle seduction from the truth of Christ was Satan's mythology in Pergamum.  Likewise in our time, a little syncretism, emotionalism in worship, and worldliness in dress code and music are tolerated to make the people feel good, and retain the multitude.

Who were the Nicoliatans, and what was their teaching as recorded in verse 15?  The Nicolaitans were a Christian sect, who was persuading the Church in Pergamum to compromise their faith.  The Nicolaitans were teaching them to play soft and fluctuating Christianity.  They were asking them to play along with idolatry and immorality-using the Jesus' axiom – “Give to God what is God's and give to Caesar what is Caesar's” in a very negative and dangerous manner.

What Christ is addressing in our text is that there are people in our midst in the Church, and even on the pulpits who are causing others to stumble in their faith.   Christian Liberty is totally different from and opposed to Christian Liberalism.  So the question is not “Is it okay for a Christian to drink alcohol”?  Rather, the question should be, “If a weaker brother or sister sees me drinking alcohol, will it cause him to stumble in his/her faith”?  As Christians, we have a community responsibility on how we behave.  It is not all about you and God, or me and God:  It is about us and God.  Do not become a stumbling block to others.  When Jesus said in verse 16: “Repent therefore, otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”.   Those who stand in the way of the spiritual growth of the Church and others, those who constitute stumbling-block, will be fought against, judged and condemned by Christ through His words.  The truth is that God through Christ Jesus is already fighting against many people in the Church.  In Pergamum, faithful Christians were finding it very hard to buy food in the market because almost every food available for sale in the market has been offered to idols.  True Christianity has never been without great price of persecution, suffering and deprivation in all ages.  In verse 17 we also read, “To him who overcomes … I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it”.  In those days, a stone was given by jurors to someone at the end of their trial.  If they were handed a black stone, they were guilty; and if they were handed a white stone, they had been declared innocent.  So it could be that this is a reference to the fact that if we remain faithful to Christ, we are declared innocent of our sins and are set free by Him.  The second meaning of giving white stone is that a stone was sometimes used as a sort of admission ticket to a public festival or royal assembly.  So a white stone, the symbol of purity may be given to us as a symbol of our invitation to the King's Banquet in heaven.  The name Pergamum means “Thoroughly married”.  So the congregation at Pergamum had become compromised, and so was married to their false ideas, doctrines, and false practices.  The question we are left with is simply this:  Who are we married to? Are we married to false ideas and compromised worship?  Or are we married to Christ – the bride of Christ.   ‘We are Pergamum' – we are thoroughly married.  But let us make sure that we are married to the right God.

 

THE CHURCH IN SARDIS:  Revelation 3:1 – 6.

Sardis which is the modern Sart, was the wealthy seat of Lydian government where Croestus reigned as monarch, and Thales the first Greek philosopher was a citizen.  Recent archaeology suggests that Sardis had perhaps the most elaborate Synagogue in the Western diaspora at the time.  Sardis was a key industrial location; the dye industry and manufacture of wool lay at the heart of its economy and it was also renowned for carpet making.  With the city streets flowing with gold and the dye and the wool and the carpets and the strong fortifications, it seems that Sardis stood rich, proud and self-sufficient.  They were too self-confident. 

The message to the Church –

Verse 1: “To the Angel of the Church in Sardis write:  These are the words                               of Him who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars”. 

This description of one who holds the seven spirits of God is a reference to the Holy Spirit.  It indicates the truth that the Holy Spirit dwells in each and every Church in equal measure. The seven stars are the Angels of the Churches; the leaders of the Churches, or the messengers.  Seven as we know is a symbol of completeness.  Hear the sharp and strong message, “I know your deeds”, you have a name or reputation that you are alive, but you are dead”.  This message is such a sharp condemnation that cuts to the very core of their being.  Sardis was a Church that was highly regarded throughout Asia Minor.  It was probably a bustling Church, full of activities.  But by what Jesus Christ is saying to the Church, we infer that the reputation did not reflect the real truth of the spiritual state of the Church.  Activity and magnificent building structures or edifice without a corresponding holy and righteous living do not in anyway amount to true spirituality.  The Church in Sardis was busy and active but they were not dependent on the Holy Spirit in their ministry.  The people in the Church were not filled with the Holy Spirit, rather they relied on past glories.

Our Churches today are not quite different.  We are full of activity.  We erect and worship in very beautiful edifices.  We have the most sophisticated electronic gadgets and musical instruments, but regrettably, many Churches, her leaders and Christians are deficient in the Holy Spirit, and true and practical Christian living in our homes, institutions, businesses, and offices.  A Church or Christian that relies on its past glory and does not operate in the power of the Holy Spirit can look alive and bustling and active for a while, maybe quite a long time but it is dying, it is emptying itself with each dying gasp.  The Church in Sardis had become a shrine to the good old days and the Christians were still living in Memory Lane.  It is a very dangerous thing for a Church or a Christian to just go through the motions, and to become a museum to the past.  God wants the Church to be a lively, vibrant community reliant on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, pursuing God in the Now, and not God in the Then.  Any Church or Christian that is not moving in the power of the Holy Spirit is dead.  Are you alive or dead?

And then comes the stern warning in verse 2:

“Be watchful, and strengthen things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  The phrase “Be watchful” is in the present tense, indicating a continuous action.  Their spiritual complacency according to the Lord Jesus Christ will cost them spiritually.  Many of us are without doubt in the same spiritual complacency like the Church in Sardis.  Even at this late stage of their spiritual comatose, they are not fully dead.  In the Grace of God, there is a chance for them to repent and get back on track.  Spiritual complacency does not just set in suddenly.  It occurs over a period of time, and in the end the state of complacency feels so normal that we don't recognize it as complacency any more.  We are battling with so many abnormal and idolatrous practices in our Church today because over a period of years, the Church become so complacent that these practices settled down as normal things for the Church, and Christians.  Spiritual complacency is one of diseases that have also successfully attacked the Church and Christians.  It is complacency that made the Church and Christians to move from “What does the Scripture say”,  to “What is wrong with that”?  It is spiritual complacency that brought the present day Church to “Let us do it like others”; “Why must our own be different”? 

What is Christ's judgment on the Church at Sardis?  “I have not found your deeds complete, perfect or acceptable in the sight of God …”  Let us point out here that the Church in Sardis was not being persecuted by the Jews;  It was not facing economic hardship at the hands of the Romans; it was not struggling against false teachers.  There was nothing to trouble them at all because they had become so complacent and easy going and apathetic that they had no enemies.  Anytime and anywhere the Church, and Christians cease to have enemies as a result of her faith, Gospel, or lifestyle, that Church or Christian is out-rightly dead and is as good as non-existent.  The Church in Sardis achieved “Peace” in the graveyard.  Jesus went on with a recommended course of action in verse 3: “Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent”.  The Lord Jesus was reminding them of the passion they had when they first received the Gospel from the first believers.  The Church in Sardis like the Anglican Church was nurtured in the faith with passion and were called on to see the need to hold on to the reality of that history and make it their present experience by living out the spirit-filled passion of those who brought  the Gospel to them.  They were warned that if they fail to wake up, the Lord will come up on them like a thief.  This means that whatever happens, God's judgment is coming on all of us.  The joy of the letter to Sardis is that in the midst of this terrible and seemingly hopeless spiritual state of the Church, there were a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes according to verses 4 – 6.  Those few names in that Church whose clothes were clean are the ones whose worship is acceptable to God.  Is your worship and Christianity acceptable to God?  Finally, Jesus says to the Church, “He who overcomes will be dressed in white.  I will not blot out his name from the Book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his Angels”.

There is God's book of life.  Is your name in that book?  There is only one way to enroll, and that is by consciously and sincerely confessing your sins, and surrender your life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, and continue on daily basis  to live your life to please Him at all times, and in all places.  Let us beware of passivity, self-satisfaction, and spiritual complacency.  The Church is not a museum, but a mission on earth.  He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the Churches.

 

THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA – Revelation 3:14 – 22.

This was the last Church in Asia Minor which Jesus the Christ sent a message to through the apostle John.  It is called the Lukewarm Church.  When the town was built originally, it was known as Diospolis, which means “City of Zeus”.  Then it became ‘Rhodas' until eventually, it was renamed Laodicea in honour of the wife of Antiochus II, who was called Laodice in 255 BC.  It was a very prosperous town well situated for trade and became one of the most influential economic centres in Asia Minor.  There was a flourishing wool trade there and they produced a particular type of black wool for clothing and the money rolled in Laodicea was well-advanced in cultural centre.  There was a large science school in Laodicea and it was famous for producing an ointment for the eyes to bring healing to bad eyesight.  Laodicea was very rich and influential.  It has such a strong banking centre that they minted their own coins in the city.  It also had a strong Church flourishing there.  Paul mentioned it in his epistle to the Colossians in Colossians 4:15–16.  The Message To the Church starts in verse 14 thus: “These are words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God”.   Jesus presents Himself to the Laodiceans as the guarantee of the truth of God into their situation.  In order words, He knows them inside out, and so does not depend on second hand report before He could assess them accurately.  In verse 15, we read the words, “I know your works”.  These words have sometimes and occasions been spoken in compassion, and sometimes they have been spoken in anger.  “You are neither cold nor hot” is a very dangerous state of any Church or Christian.  The Laodiceans did not reject the Gospel, but they did not embrace it with passion, commitment and conviction.  They were not doing anything immoral but they did not have any zeal for God or the things of God either.  They did not reject Jesus, but they seemed not to embrace Him.  They were neutral, lukewarm, indifferent, and unconcerned.  The Laodiceans were very acquainted with the language of the message to them by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is because of the nature of characteristics of some rivers around them.  The waters in the rivers and springs of Colossae, where their sister Church was, ran pure and icy cold.  The waters in the rivers and springs of the Hierapolis, geographically nearby, ran boiling hot like geezers.  But the rivers and springs from Laodicea, Asopus and Caprus, were lukewarm and tepid and full of lime scale.  It was therefore a familiar though terrible comparison to draw their attention to the nature of their Christian faith using the rivers around them.

Jesus said to them, “I wish you were either cold or hot”.  Jesus by this statement would be in dialogue of conversion with an honest atheist, than have a lukewarm Christian.  A lukewarm Christian is disparagingly useless for Christ.  In the fight of faith, there is no room for indecision, neutrality, or sitting on the fence.  It is either you are in or you are out.  Lukewarmness irritates and infuriates God.  A lukewarm Church or Christian is a liability to Christ Jesus.  A lukewarm Christian is an enemy of the Church.  He or she is a perpetual saboteur in the affairs of the Church.  A lukewarm Church is not better than a cemetery in a locality. A lukewarm Christian is spiritual leukemia in the life of the Church.  Lukewarmness is not only acceptable to Jesus Christ, but also abhorable. A lukewarm Christian is a mockery to Christ and His Church.  It is as a result of this absurdity of lukewarness that the Lord of the Church said in verse 16, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth”.  This suggests that lukewarmness makes Lord Jesus literally, sick to His stomach, and He will throw up at the thought of a lukewarm Christian.  A lukewarm Christian is therefore a nuisance to Christ Jesus. 

By saying, “I am about to vomit you out of my mouth” means that there is still time for us to repent and change from our lukewarmness.  Jesus contrasts their faith with the prosperity of the city economically.  In verse 17, He reminds them, “…You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”.  They thought that because of their economic buoyancy and prosperity they had it all, but, in reality, they had nothing by God's assessment and parameter, which of course is the most important.  The Lord Jesus who is full of Compassion and Mercy in verse 18 instead of locking the door of the Kingdom against them immediately said, “I counsel [advise] you to buy from me gold refined in fire”.  The wealth from black wool is not enough for the Laodiceans.  Jesus offers them and us purity and forgiveness and restoration.  The wealth of Faith is more valuable to God than the wealth of treasure, and talent.  This is why He said in Matthew 6:19–20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …”

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.  God is rebuking all of us with the theme of this Synod to turn from lukewarmness to fervency in faith.  God loves us dearly, and so does not want us to miss His Kingdom.  If God disciplines us, it then means He is still interested in us.  Therefore, according to Proverb 3:11 & 12:  “My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son He delights in”.   What we do with God's rebuke and discipline today creates the path of how we will be tomorrow.

CONCLUSION:

The four Churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis and Laodicea accurately represent the spiritual states of the present day Church generally, and our Diocese in particular.  The general charge remains “Be earnest and repent”.  We have been on a journey around Asia Minor reflecting on the spiritual state of four Churches which invariably is the whole Church, and is each one of us.  Sometimes we are spiritual and purpose-driven, sometimes we are grossly persecuted for standing for the Bible truth, sometimes adhering to truth, sometimes embracing false doctrines and ideas about God, sometimes worshipping in purity, sometimes tolerating and engaging in false worship, sometimes persevering, sometimes lapsing into apathy and lukewarmness; sometimes arrogant; sometimes humble; sometimes rich; sometimes poor; sometimes loving; sometimes full of hate and harsh criticism.  The first three Chapters of Revelation is a mirror held up to our own Churches and to our own souls.  We have received commendation and depressing critique.  But in the midst of all that, the Spirit of God continues to urge us collectively and individually to hold on to our Christian faith and practice unwaveringly.  He also urges us to eschew Compromise, Lukewarmness, Hypocrisy, Spiritual Complacency, and Apathy.  God wants us to worship Him His own way, Not our own Way.  God wants us to set the standard for the world to follow.  He wants us to endure hardship and persecution, ridicule and desertion which must come with true Christianity and sound spirituality. 

The bottom line is “I know your works”.  Whatever everyone of us is doing is glaringly open to God, and He will reward each of us accordingly. 

God bless you abundantly for listening attentively and patiently.

 

Your Bishop, Friend, and Brother,

+ Ephraim Amichi

13th June, 2015.

 

 

APPENDIX  I

COMMUNIQUE FROM THE GENERAL SYNOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX  II

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE GENERAL SYNOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX  III

 

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE SECOND SYNOD HELD FROM WEDNESDAY 4TH JUNE TO SUNDAY 6TH JUNE, 2014 AT IMMANUEL CHURCH, EKWULUMILI.

The third session of the second synod of Amichi Diocese with the theme, “ Who is on the lord's side” (Ex 32: 26) was held from Wednesday 4th June to Sunday 9th June, 2014 at Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili, Nnewi South local Government Area of Anambra State. This was under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit and the President of the synod, the Rt. Rev'd Ephraim O Ikeakor, Lord Bishop of Diocese of Amichi.

At the end of the synod, the following pronouncements and conclusions were adopted.

CONDOLENCE:

The synod expresses shock over the death of the former Minister of information Prof. Dora Akunyili and described her death as deeply painful and huge loss to the nation and Anambra State. She commiserate with the Akunyili family and Government of Anambra for her demise.

STATE OF THE NATION

The synod commends the President and commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebelechukwu Jonathan on his mature approach to tackling the security challenges in the country and urges the Federal and State governments to be resolute in the fight against terrorism in the country.

The Synod also commends his exemplary courage in setting up the National Conference. We also adjoin the delegates to deliberate on issues concerning progress and unity of the country and not on divisive issues. She notes with dismay why the whopping sum of twelve million naira will be given to each of the delegates for participating in that exercise while our youths and graduates are jobless and hungry.

The President is also commended for the award of the second Niger Bridge and the official ground breaking ceremony to that effect.

The synod notes with sadness the incessant bombing and wanton shedding of innocent blood and destruction of lives and property by members of Islamic terrorists called Boko-haram and urges the Government to put in place strategies to averting future occurrences. We also commiserate with the federal Government and families of the victims. We pray God to grant them fortitude to bear the loss.

The synod sympathizes with the families of the Chibok girls abducted by Boko-haram sect and urges the federal Government to do everything within its power to ensure the safe release of the girls.

The synod sympathizes with the families of those who lost their lives in the National immigration Job Interview at different locations in the country.

Synod also notes with dismay the continued black-out in the nation in spite of the privatization of electricity supply and urges the relevant authorities to release without delay pre-paid meters to save the public from continued suffering.

The Synod urges the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to expedite action towards resolving the lingering strike embarked upon by members of ASUP, NASUP and COEASU.

Synod frowns at the idea of Islamic terrorists, masquerading as Fulani herdsmen and in the process usurping people lands, killing people and destroying families and farm lands.

The Synod advises the Federal Government to provide these herdsmen specific areas for rearing their cattle, thereby preventing unnecessary conflicts with farmers and villagers. Synod also advises the traditional rulers especially those in the South East Geographical zone to desist from leasing out lands to cattle rearers.

Synod also condemns the practice of Al-majiri by the Moslems whereby the male children are thrown out of homes to a life of hardship which metamorphosis into a life of heartless terrorism. She therefore suggests that a law be enacted banning the practice.

ANAMBRA STATE

The Synod congratulates Chief Dr. Willie Obiano and Dr. Nkem Okeke on their election as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively in Anambra State. She wishes them a successful tenure. Synod also commends the INEC for conducting a fairly free election.

The Synod commends the governor for his un-equivocal resolve to flush out criminals from the State and urges him not to relent in his efforts and in applying the same rod to other areas.

The Synod urges His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano not to allow the political gladiators and selfish politicians to diffuse and divert his attention from partnering with the Church in the transformation of the State.

SYNOD THEME: “WHO IS ON THE LORDS SIDE?” EXODUS 32:26

The Synod in view of the high level of modern idolatrous/syncretic practices inherent in the society thereby defiling/corrupting the true worship of God and being fully aware that where one stands determines his eternal destiny challenges all and sundry to take a radical decision either to stand firmly with God or against him.

 The Synod challenges the Christian traditional rulers to fight against idolatry by drawing a very clear and distinct line from culture, tradition and idolatry. Traditional rulers are urged to stop the increasing wave of idolatrous practices.

In the same vein, the synod urges all the worshippers of God to pursue true worship of God and shun all forms of syncretic practices noting that only a life solely dedicated to God can afford them being on the Lord's side.  For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole riches and pleasures of life and at the end loose out in the kingdom of God?

To the church leaders, the synod urges and challenges them to cultivate the virtues of holiness and contentment to enable them stand away from the people and the world like Moses did and stood for God so as to bridge the gap between charisma and character.

Conclusively, up till today the worship of idols still carry grievous consequences. The jealous God will not hesitate to pour out His anger upon idolaterers. Make up your mind today to serve the living God only.

 

 

Ven.  Henry  Amobi                                            Lady Barr. Amaka Udogu

Clerical Synod Secretary                                Chairman Communiqué/

                                                                                     Resolution Committee

                                    

 

 

                                     

                                       The Rt. Rev'd. Ephraim Ikeakor

                                                             Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX  IV

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHURCH OF NIGERIA

[ANGLICAN COMMUNION]

 

 

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

 

PRESENTED BY

 

HIS LORDSHIP,

RT. REVD. E.O. IKEAKOR

BISHOP, DIOCESE OF AMICHI.

 

TO THE

 

1ST SESSION OF THE THIRD SYNOD

 

THEME:

 

“I KNOW YOUR WORKS …

LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES OF SMYRNA, PERGAMOS, SARDIS, AND LAODICEA.”  [REVELATION 2 & 3].

 

 

                                       DATE:     SATURDAY 13TH JUNE, 2015.

 

                            VENUE:   ST. SIMON'S ANGLICAN CHURCH, EZINIFITE,

                                      NNEWI-SOUTH L.G.A. ANAMBRA STATE.

 

 

 

SYNOD PRAYER:

Almighty and Gracious God, the Hope of all who put their trust in you, we sincerely thank and glorify you for all your mercies, blessings, and Graces upon our lives, families, nation, and Diocese.  As we have gathered for the first session of the third Synod of this Diocese, we beseech you humbly to be with us in your power.  Guide and guard our thoughts and deliberations.  Grant us the honesty of opinions, transparency of heart, and holiness of life in all we say and do in this Synod.  Make us to understand that you know all our doings, and motives in doing them, so that we can serve you with sincerity and commitment so as to receive good eternal reward from you at last.  We ask all these through your only Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit both now and forever.  Amen.

 

 

GREETINGS:

Dear People of God, we happily and heartily thank the Almighty God for mercifully preserving our lives to see and be partakers in the first session of our third Synod.  May all Glory, Praise, and Exaltation belong to Him alone both now and always.  Amen.

We respectfully welcome the Executive Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano to this august Synod assembly with his galaxy of lieutenants, and members of the State executive council holding here at St. Simon's Anglican Church, Ezinifite in Nnewi-South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

We in the same vein gladly welcome the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Dr. Nkem Okeke to the Synod.  Let us also say a very big welcome to the immediate past governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi for finding time to grace this occasion today.

On a very special note, we joyfully welcome our father in the Lord, His Grace, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi – The Dean, Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion], Archbishop of Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Aguata to the Synod.  We at this point say a very ovatious congratulation to him on his election as the new Dean of the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  May the triple Grace to faithfully serve the Lord in these three capacities be always available to you in the name of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.  Amen.

We are pleased to welcome all Archbishops and Bishops of our Church, who have found time to be with us today.  To all other distinguished guests, Bishop's Nominees, and Synod delegates, we are immeasurably encouraged by your presence, and positive response to our invitation.  We have not taken for granted the presence of our Royal fathers especially, His Royal Highness, Igwe Samuel Anayo Obika, Ezeoha II of Ezinifite who lavishly received the Bishop, his wife and the Synod  delegates in his palace on arrival on Wednesday 10th June, 2015.  We cannot have the unexplainable lapse of forgetting to welcome in a very wonderful manner, my wife, Mama Amichi Diocese and President of Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild; Dame Nkem Ikeakor.

The Diocesan Council of Knights, the Diocesan Chancellor and our Legal team, the academia; business men and women, the Clergy and their wives, the gentlemen of the Press and indeed everyone present here; you are indeed highly welcome.  May the peace of God, and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be continually multiplied upon all of you as we fellowship in His presence in this Synod both now and always.  Amen.

 

 

SYNOD RESOURCE PERSONS:

[a]      SYNOD GUEST PREACHER:

The Synod Guest Preacher in this first session of the third Synod is a well known preacher of the Gospel, our brother, and friend, His Lordship, the Rt. Revd. Dr. Samuel Chukwudi Ezeofor.  Bishop Samuel Ezeofor was born on 8th May, 1967 to Ichie Noel and Mrs. Juliana Ezeofor of Ezioko village, Oko in the present Orumba North Local Government Council of Anambra State.  His birth brought tremendous joy to the family and many relatives because it was a long awaited blessing from God.  His parents had been in marriage for ten [10] years without a fruit of the womb.  Samuel was introduced to the Church early in life by his parents and particularly his mother.  He attended virtually all the activities in the Church and grew up to be acquainted with the Church and her activities.  He was a Choir boy, Brigade boy, an APA boy, an AYF boy, and he grew in them to the glory of God.  He attended Okoko Primary School, and Central School, Oko for his primary education from where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate.  He attended Aguata High School for his secondary school education and obtained his West African School Certificate in 1985.  He proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got his first degree with first class honours division.  He later went to University of Ibadan; and Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan where he got his second and third degrees between 1990 and 1995.  Samuel was made a deacon, and also ordained a Priest in the Diocese of Akure in 1994 and 1995 respectively by the Lord Bishop of Akure Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Gbonigi.  He served in the Cathedral Church of St. David, Akure; Chapel of Restoration, Akure as a Priest while lecturing in Archbishop Vinning College of Theology, Akure.

Samuel left Akure in 1998 for the Diocese of Nnewi under The Rt. Revd. Prof.  G.I.N. Okpala.  He served in The Cathedral Church of St. Mary, Nnewi; St. Mary's Church, Isseke from where he was preferred and collated an Archdeacon in 2000.  He also served as Archdeacon of Ihiala, and Oraifite Archdeaconries respectively.  It was while he was in Oraifite that Bishop Samuel was elected, consecrated, and enthroned as the pioneer Bishop of Ogbaru Diocese in 2007.

Rt. Revd. Samuel .C. Ezeofor has served the Church in various capacities from childhood in his local Church, St. John the Divine Church, Oko to secondary school, university, National Youth Service, and he continues to serve.  He is currently the Chairman, EFAC Eastern Bloc; Vice Chairman EFAC, Nigeria; National AYF Patron; and Patron Scripture Union, Onitsha Area.  The preaching of the Gospel has taken him beyond the shores of Nigeria to more than twenty-five nations of the world in five continents.  His passion is how to grow strong disciples for Christ, good Church and society leaders; strong and virile Christian marriages and homes.  This vision drives him in whatever he does today.  What Samuel thinks is the greatest experience in his life is the event that took place in his life on 30th December, 1983 which is the date of his second birth.  It is that singular experience and encounter on that day that has made him what he has become today.

Bishop Samuel has authored a number of books, while some are still in the pipeline.  Among his book titles are: “Made in Heaven”, “Living with Eternity in View”, “The Battle for Light”, “Beyond Conventional Christianity”, “In Tithes and Offerings”.

Samuel is married to one female wife, Mrs. Chinyere Hulda Ezeofor with whom he has been serving the Lord as an ordained Priest for the past twenty-one years, and they are blessed with five wonderful and promising children.

We welcome officially Rt. Dr. Revd. Samuel .C.  Ezeofor to our Synod, and also thank God for what He has used this his servant to impact on us since Thursday.

 

THE SYNOD BIBLE STUDY FACILITATOR:

The Bible study facilitator for this Synod is Ven. Chika Udochukwu Mbeyi.  Ven. Chika Mbeyi was born into the family of Mr. & Mrs. Josiah and Theresa Mbeyi both of blessed memory on 9th June, 1973.  He hails from Osina in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State. He was, born in Kontagora in Niger State, and was baptized on 25th November, 1973 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Kontagora [Now Cathedral].  Chika attended Central School Kontagora for his primary school education.  He later enrolled in secondary commercial school, Osina for his secondary education.  In 1994, Chika secured admission into Imo State University where he read Medical Laboratory Sciences.  He graduated in 1999, and in 2000 he did his National Youth Service in Kwara State.  Chika received call to the ordained ministry in 1994, and in October 1999 he was employed as a Church Teacher in the Diocese of Ideato.  Between 1990 and 2000, Ven. Chika served as a Church Teacher in St. John's Anglican Church, Osina as well as a Laboratory scientist at Osina Community Hospital, and Ajaebionu Psychiatric Hospital, all in Osina.  When Chika was posted to Kwara State for his National Youth Service Programme, he was officially introduced to the then Bishop of Kwara Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Jeremiah Fabuluje by the then Bishop of Ideato Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Godson Echefu [Retired].  He served as a Church Teacher at Chapel of Ascension, Ilorin, and at the same time as Laboratory scientist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.  Chika found favour before God and the Bishop of Kwara Diocese who sent him to Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan for his Theological and ordination training in 2001. He was made a deacon on 6th July 2003; and ordained Priest on 22nd June 2004 by The Rt. Revd. Jeremiah Fabuluje, Bishop of Kwara Diocese.

In 2005, Chika Mbeyi moved down to the Diocese of Abakaliki.  He was posted to All Saints' Cathedral, Abakaliki where he served as a curate under Ven. Ephraim .O. Ikeakor [Now Bishop] who was the Cathedral Archdeacon/ Administrator.  According to Ven. Chika Mbeyi, it was his work with and under Ven. Ephraim .O.  Ikeakor that sharpened and shaped his Priestly ministry.  On 11th November, 2007, Chika was collated and installed the first Archdeacon of Igbeagu Archdeaconry by the Rt. Revd. Benson C. B. Onyeibor, the retired Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese.  Ven. Chika has served as Archdeacon of Ndiagu, Kpirikpiri, and Umuezeoka Archdeaconries at various times.  In January, 2015, Ven. Chika Mbeyi moved to the Diocese of Amichi.  He is presently serving at St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Unubi.

He was the Chaplain of Anglican Youth Fellowship while in Kwara Diocese.  In Abakaliki Diocese, Ven Chika Mbeyi served as the Director Diocesan HIV/AIDS Intervention Programme 2005 – 2008; Chairman of Diocesan Synod Planning Committee 2009 – 20014; Chaplain Social Welfare 2010 – 2014.  In September 1990, Chika surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and was born again.  It was a very significant encounter that turned his life around for good.  He became a member of Scripture Union where he later became the group prayer coordinator.  He was also one of the pioneer members of EFAC in Ideato Diocese.  He was the general Prayer coordinator of St. John's Anglican Church, Osina EFAC Home and Abroad.  He also served in Anglican Youth Fellowship for many years at various levels and capacities.

Ven. Chika Mbeyi is married to Mrs. Chibuzo .N. Mbeyi, and the marriage is blessed with children. 

We thank God for the solemn and dynamic way Ven. Chika led us in the Bible Study.  We both welcome you to our Diocese, and appreciate the Grace of God upon your life.  May your head never lack God's oil of anointing and favour.

 

THE VENUE OF THE SYNOD:

HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY AND ANGLICAN CHURCH IN EZINIFITE.

Ezinifite is one of the ten [10] communities that make up Nnewi-South Local Government Area of Anambra State.  The town is made up of four [4] quarters namely: Awor, Ifite, Umudiala, and Akala.  She has common boundary in the North with Osumenyi, North West with Ebenator, in the South with Amaruru in Imo State, and Lilu, in the West with Ukpor, and in the East with Akwaihedi.  The town is watered by three major rivers viz: Ulasi, Ofala, and Ahuma Mmiri.  She is adorned with natural terrain sloping to the South, East, and West.  The town is a source of sand and stone for building construction.  The traditional mainstay of the economy of the town is subsistent Agriculture.  The main products of the people include: yam, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, palm produce, pears, kola nuts, bitter cola, coconut, cherry, etc.  Some of them are produced in commercial quantity.

ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY:

Before the advent of Christianity in about 1917, the people of Ezinifite believed in many gods derivable from natural and phenomenal existence and exigencies of the people.  The people of Ezinifite before the advent of Christianity observed some festivals in honour of these deities.  Such festivals include: Ikpa nso, and Okpensi which were celebrated annually; and Asara festival which was celebrated every ten years.  The coming of Christianity reduced and indeed in some cases eliminated the importance which the people, the tradition and custom placed on these deities, and festivals attached to them.  Before the advent of Christianity, the entire community worshipped many man-made gods and goddesses which include: Ala, Nkwo, Okpii, Ulasi, Ohiaka, Unamiri and Ogwugwu.

The period before the coming of Christianity in Ezinifite could be properly described as “Dark Age”.  It was a period when twin babies and their mothers were killed.  Victims of illnesses like swollen limbs and stomachs, or those who were leprous were thrown away alive.  It was a period when slavery and outcasts caste were the order of the day.  It was also a period when kidnappers roamed the streets kidnapping and selling their victims.  These untold evils were ripe enough to force a sudden change in the social and religious structures and beliefs on the community, but the priests of the gods and goddesses became great stumbling blocks to any individual or groups that would rise up to suggest or bring about the needed change.  1917 was a great and remarkable year in the history of Ezinifite.  It was the year that the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was brought from Nnewi to Ezinifite town.  Hardworking and faith Christian youths led by Mr. Paul Ofoma, Japheth Onwuka, Job Nwilo, and Atusiuba from Umudim Nnewi stormed Ezinifite with the Gospel Good News.  These Christian youths had open-air preaching in the town for some months.  Late Elija Obianuka in Umudiala village offered his house as a place of worship every Sunday.  In 1918, a good number of Christian converts had been won for Christ.  A large place of worship became very necessary.  Amaoda Umuokwereogu in Umuerimanwa in Umudiala was secured and a mud Church building was erected.  The first station Catechist in the person of Mr. Emmanuel Okeke from Ojoto was posted to the Church.  Prominent among the early Christian converts were Elijah Obianuka, Abraham Ogbuchi, Abel Osueke, Osuogwugwu Ifediniru, Ezeokwesi Ifediniru, Timothy Nzotozi, Onwugamba Oguchi, and Aaron Ntuimonu. Others were Simeon Ibeh, Daniel Ibe, Hezekiah Ibe, Samuel Onwuasoigwe Okafor, Matthew Anolue, Gabriel Utokanandu Agbasimelo, Moses Onyekere, John Oraejesi, Josiah Emejuru, Joseph Anolue, Michael Ikegwuonu, Paul Emesie, Gabriel Etoniru, and Isaiah Obianuka.  The young Christian women converts who carried the Cross side by side the men counterparts include Udeze Ibe who was the first woman convert in the flock.  Others were Nwamaeru Obianuka, Mogo Chukwu Onwusobalu [now Mrs. Phina .M.  Umeike], Eunice Ibe, Nwodika Ikegwuonu, Sarah Ikegwuonu, Janet Oraejesi, Alice Onyekere and Nwamaeze Obianuka.  As a result of great increase in the number of converts, it became very necessary to set up a large Church building in a more spacious and central place.  The Church building was therefore transferred to Ugwuachi in Umudiala.  The Church was still in need of a more central place of worship for all the Christian converts in Ezinifite.  It was at that time that late Ezeomaram Ikegwuonu of Akabo Umudiala Ezinifite donated a parcel of land to the Christian converts for the purpose.

ERA OF PERSECUTION:

This great light of the Gospel and wind of change in Ezinifite became a threat to idol worshippers and the serving priests to such idols.  They saw the mass conversion of their devotees to Christianity as a great threat to their livelihood and economy.  They therefore went on demonstration against the new doctrine to the traditional ruler who was then a warrant Chief.  The Chief then promised the idol worshippers that he would soon destroy the new doctrine in the town.  In the bid to make his promise to the idol worshipper a reality, a law was made in the traditional circle through the warrant Chief that every able-bodied man should go and work for the traditional ruler on Sundays.  The Christians saw the “Work on Sunday” as a clever way to disrupt and destroy their Sunday Services.  They therefore decided to keep the Lord's Day holy because they were convinced that it was better to obey God than man.  Thus they dissociated themselves from the compulsory work on Sunday.  In 1920, the Chief's clerk from Obosi was compelled to summit names of all those who did not comply with the given order.  A total of twenty-three names were submitted and they were all arrested and sent to Oduga Court at Ihiala on charges of bringing in doctrines and customs new to Ezinifite in order to destroy the existing customs of the land.  They were pronounced guilty and sentenced to three months imprisonments without option of fines.  The yam barns of Nneani people were also completely burnt as a punishment to the village that was seen as the most disobedient to the warrant Chief. 

On the fifth day of their imprisonment, the station Catechist, Mr. Emmanuel Okeke went to Ekeze Nnewi and reported the matter to Revd. Abel .N. Ekpunobi who was the then resident Priest.  Revd. Ekpunobi wrote a letter mobilizing all Christian Churches in the area for fervent and continuous prayers for the release of the twenty-three Christians imprisoned.  He also applied in writing to the authorities concerned at Ihiala for the release of the imprisoned Christians arguing that they were not guilty of any offence.  An investigation was carried out and at the end, they were all released.  The warrant chief was ordered by the Court to pay the sum of “Nnu-ahia” [twenty pounds] to off-set the bill for feeding the Christians while they were in prison.  The final verdict and decision on the case greatly demoralized and humiliated the idol worshippers.

In 1922, the Christians were faced with another serious persecution.  The Christians from Umudiala community in Ezinifite collected cassava sticks from Nnewi and planted same in their farms.  By that time, it was adjudged an abomination in the town to touch cassava plant or eat cassava.  The Christians who planted the cassava were arrested and dragged to Oduga Court at Ihiala again.  They were charged with planting cassava on the land of ulasi, which was termed an abomination by the pagans in the town.  The case was won by the Christians on the ground that people have the right and freedom to plant and eat whatever they have in their farms.  That  verdict therefore became a great relief and light which then made cassava not only prominent but it became a staple food both in Ezinifite and the whole of Igbo land and beyond till date. 

In 1927, Mr. Jonah Okeke from Umudim Nnewi was posted to St. Simon's C.M.S. Church, Ezinifite as the station Catechist.  The Church at this time was facing another persecution and ordeal.  Initiation into the “Ozo” title society in Igbo land was full of some pagan practices.  As a result of huge financial burden carried by the initiation, the Ozo title society convinced the warrant Chief and traditional institution to make it a law that every Ozo initiate should be allowed to freely harvest people's oil palm fruits indiscriminately for about two to three months.  This was called “Igbu akwu Ozo”.  This was one of the ways the public indirectly contributed to and helped the Ozo title aspirant to meet up with the heavy Ozo title financial burden and expenses.  Late Mr. Michael Ikegwuonu of Akabo Umudiala refused to allow this group from harvesting his palm fruit freely.  He argued and maintained that Ozo title society was pagan and as such, Christians should never allow their palm fruits to be harvested for that purpose.  The local chieftains and promoters of the Ozo initiation saw this stand as a great slap and insult on the face of all Ozo titled men of Ezinifite.  Michael Ikegwuonu was dragged to Oduga Court where he was accused of trying to destroy the existing and established customs and tradition of the land.  He was sentenced though unfortunately to three months imprisonment.  He gladly accepted the verdict and served the jail term taking it as his own cross for defending his Christian faith and hope.  Despite these persecutions, the population of the Church was impressively increasing.  As a result of this exponential numerical growth, a new site was acquired at Onya-agu along Nkwo ozu/Abanator road [Now Mission Road].  The first two pieces of land were acquired from Umuokwereogu of Umudiala, and Okonkwo Madumere and Mgbemeje Onyeweli of Akabu.  Mr. Daniel Ibe of Nneani, Ifite donated a piece of land where he would have erected his personal house to the Church for the propagation of the Gospel.  Lands were also acquired from Amajiri Enwerem, and his brother Stephen Enwerem of Etiti Umudiala.  The acquisition of this new and imposing site aroused a great indignation on the part of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.  This jealous rush by the Roman Catholic Church members to secure a better and more spacious site for their denomination led to two years [1954–1956] of great bitterness, misunderstanding, suspicion, and hatred between the Anglicans, and the Roman Catholics.  It is noteworthy that late Mr. Stephen Enwerem's land deal with the Anglican Church earned him and his family an excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.  The members of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite welcomed him and his family members with very warm embrace.   His family house was burnt by the Roman Catholic.  The vicar in-charge, Ven. B.C. Nwosu accepted and took Mr. Stephen Enwerem and his family into his own home and family.  Later in 1958, Ven. B.C. Nwosu convinced the Diocese of the Niger to build a decent home for Enwerem's family.  The actual building of a larger Church structure at Onyagu was started. 

The first trained Catechist in the person of Mr. Chikwendu of Otolo Nnewi was posted to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite in 1967.  In 1969, Revd. F.A.A. Eriobuna who was a deacon then [now retired Archdeacon from Ihiala] was posted to the Church as the first Clergyman who worked in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  In 1972, the Diocese on the Niger withdrew the District status accorded to St. Simon's Church, due to their inability to build a befitting vicarage.  After much fruitless protests from the members, the people eventually accepted the challenge.  The vicarage building was completed in 1979.  In 1980, Revd. T.I. Umeh [now Venerable] from Ezinifite Aguata was posted to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  His posting heralded the restoration of District status to St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  Revd. T. I.  Umeh during his tenure revived the various organs in the Church which were until then not functional.  The Church organs revived included: Men's General Meeting, Women's General Meeting, Anglican Youth Fellowship, Boys' and Girls' Brigade, and Anglican Prayer Association for children.  St. Simon's Anglican Church District, Ezinifite was officially inaugurated on 26th February, 1984 under Revd. R.O. Ibeneme.  The building committee for the present Church building was set up in 1984 during Men's General Meeting Conference.  The chairman of the building committee was Mr. B.E. Ezekwere, Mr. Isreal .S. Uzoanekwe was the secretary, Mr. Cyprain Agbasimelo was the treasurer, while Fanny Udeagbara was the financial secretary.  The foundation stone of the Church was laid on 13th April, 1993 by The Rt. Revd. J.A. Onyemelukwe [Archbishop Emeritus of Province II, and the retired Bishop on the Niger Diocese] during Revd. Peter Nneji's tenure as the Priest in-charge.

Sir and Lady Louis .C. Okeke financed the roofing of this present Church, while late Mr. Ifeanyi Ezeamurunanma donated one hundred pews to the Church. This ultra modern new Church building was dedicated on 5th April, 1999 by His Lordship, Rt. Revd. Dr. G.I.N. Okpala when Revd. J.A. Ekwue from Nnobi was the vicar of the Church.  In December, 2006, a team of Diocesan Evangelists were sent by Nnewi Diocese to open a new branch Church of St. Simon's Anglican Church in Ifite, Ezinifite.  Evangelist Sunday Nkwor was posted to nurse the new Church station.  In 2007, a resident Church teacher, Mr. Ephraim Ekene Umeze was posted to the new Church as the first Church teacher.  The new Church station was christened St. Mary's Anglican Church, Ifite Ezinifite.  The first Priest in the person of Revd. Henry O.R. Amobi was posted to the young Church in January, 2008.  The Church was inaugurated a Parish in 2009 by His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor.  The foundation stone of the current Church building was also laid the same day by the Bishop.  The Church building is nearing completion.  The land on which the Church building is sited was donated by Ezekwere family.  Sir Samson Awiaka has undertaken the building of a befitting vicarage for the Church.  He has started the project, and we hope that it will not take long when he will complete the work.  The land on which the vicarage is being erected was donated by Mr. O.O. Ifediniru family. Sir B.E. Ezekwere donated a large parcel of land for Church hall.  The women Home and Abroad General Meeting is financing the building of a storey building Church hall.

Generally, the tenure of Revd. Canon Vincent Egwuenu [now Venerable] was a period of big development in the life of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite.  It was during his time that St. Mary's Church, Ifite, and St. Jude's Church, Akala were planted.  The period witnessed the donation of land by Anabara family of Akala for St. Jude's Church, Akala.  Ven. Egwuenu's era midwifed the building of the Church hall, Bible School, installation of cold room, sinking of bore holes, acquisition of three buses for the Church, and the building of second parsonage.  Ezinifite was elevated to Archdeaconry status, and was inaugurated in May, 2008 by His Lordship, Rt. Revd. Dr. G.I.N. Okpala, Bishop, Diocese of Nnewi, and Ven. V.C. Egwuenu was the pioneer Archdeacon.  St. Simon's  Church, Ezinifite hosted Nnewi Diocesan Synod in June, 2008.

At Organizations' level, the women general home and abroad meeting was introduced by late Madam Eunice Ibe who resided in Obosi with her husband then.  Madam Victoria Uba succeeded Madam Eunice Ibe, while Lady Elizabeth Okeke replaced Madam Victoria Uba.  Currently, Mrs. Beatrice Edokor is the chairperson of Women General Home and Abroad Meeting of St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite, while Lady Elizabeth Okeke is that of St. Mary's Church, Ezinifite.

Anglican Youth Fellowship was established in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite in 1962 through the missionary work of A.Y.F of St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi under the leadership of Hon. N.N.C. Egbeigwe [now Sir].  The pioneer Chairman of Anglican Men's Christian Fellowship was Chief O.O. Ifediniru.

INDIGENOUS PRIESTS:

The underlisted Clergymen are the indigenes of Ezinifite serving in various Dioceses.

S/N

                    NAME

           DIOCESE

1.

Late Revd. G.U. Agbasimelo

Diocese of Owerri

2.

Late Revd. Canon Emmanuel Iloka

Diocese of Awka

3.

Revd. Canon Lawrence Oguanya

Calabar

4.

Ven. Ifeanyi Ezezue

Jebba

5.

Revd. Christopher Elochukwu

Amichi

6.

Revd. Canon Osita Ugokwe

Nike

7.

Revd Ikenna Ezeoke

Lagos/Aba Ngwa

8.

Revd. Okwuchukwu Uzuegbu

Arochukwu/Ohofia

9.

Revd. Uchenna Aguda

Ihiala

 

 

 

CHRONOLOGY OF PRIESTS WHO HAVE WORKED IN EZINIFITE:

S/N

                       NAME

         DATE

1.

Revd. F.A.A. Eriobuna

1969 – 1972

2.

Revd. T.I. Umeh

1980 – 1983

3.

Revd. R. O. Ibeneme

1984

4.

Revd. A.B.C. Okoli

1985 - 1989

5.

Revd. P.C.  Nneji

1990 – 1995

6.

Revd.  I.O. Igboanusi

1996

7.

Revd. J.A.  Ekwue

1997 - 1999

8.

Revd. B.O. Anene

2000 – 2002

9.

Ven. V. C. Egwuenu

2003 – 2008

10.

Revd. Oliver Chigbo [Curate]

2008 – 2010

11.

Revd. Zephniah Enemuo [Curate]

2007 – 2008

12.

Ven. David Nonyelum

2009 [Jan. – July]

13.

Ven. Ephraim Umeh

2009 [July – Dec. 2010.]

14.

Ven. Nnamdi Amutaigwe

2011 – date.

15.

Revd. Canon Silas Odimegwu [Curate]

2011 – 2013

16.

Revd. Robinson Oguchi [Curate]

2013 – date.

 

ST. MARY'S  CHURCH, EZINIFITE:

 

17.

Revd. Henry O.R. Amobi

2007 – 2010

18.

Revd. Christopher Elochukwu

2010 – 2011

19.

Revd. Chukwunonso Okwuora [now Mr.]

2011 – 2013

20.

Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie

2013 – date.

 

It is very pertinent to state clearly that this history is not exhaustive and very detailed. This is an abridged edition which obviously does not contain all that has transpired in the life and development of Ezinifite Anglican Communion.  Having made that observation, we at this point thank God immensely for the lives and times of men and women of Ezinifite who yielded their lives, times, talents and treasures for the propagation and growth of Christianity in this part of God's world.  May their labours never be in vain in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

CHURCH OF NIGERIA NEWS:

To the glory of God, some meetings and events took place at the national level of our Church, within the Synod year we are reviewing.  Such meetings and events are:

[a]      The General Synod:  The meeting of the General Synod of Church of      Nigeria [Anglican Communion] was held at the Cathedral Church of the    Good Shepherd, Enugu from 15th to 19th September, 2014.  It was hosted         by the entire Province of Enugu.  The theme of the Synod was “Thy             Kingdom Come”.  God in His mercy used the various resource persons to        bless His people abundantly through His word.

[b]      The Standing Committee Meeting:  The Meeting was hosted by the      Province of Bendel from 2nd to 6th February, 2015 at Bishop Agariwe      Memorial Church, Ughelli in the Diocese of Ughelli.  The theme of the            Standing Committee was “Watch and Pray”.  As we congratulate our   Primate for the success of these meetings, we shall not fail to commend the Provinces of Enugu, and Bendel, the Bishops, Clergy, and of course          the laity for their sacrifices and commitments  in making these meetings           very successful to the glory and honour of the Almighty God.

[c]      Bishops' Annual Retreat:   The 2015 edition of this special annual         gathering of Bishops of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] for       spiritual rejuvenation was held at the Ibru Centre Agbarha-otor from          Monday 5th to Saturday 10th January, 2015.  The theme we reflected and             deliberated on was: “21st Century God's Ambassador in the Anglican       Church”.  The main resource person in the Retreat was, The Most Revd.             Stanley Ntagali who is the Primate of Church of Uganda.  It was actually a time of spiritual refilling and refreshing for the Bishops after the      hustling and bustling of the end of the year activities.

[d]      Retirements, Elections, and Consecrations:  Some of our Bishops       through the mercy of God have attained, while others shall in a couple of           weeks attain the mandatory retirement age.   They include:

            [i]       Rt. Revd. Isaac Orama [Death]                        -           Uyo Diocese           

            [ii]      Rt. Revd. Jacob Fasipe                            -           Oyo Diocese                       

            [iii]     Rt. Revd. Prof. Anthony Nkwoka       -            Diocese of Niger West

            [iv]     Rt. Revd. Tanimu .S. Aduda                  -           Diocese of Gwagwalada

            [v]      Rt. Revd. Titus .O.B. Fajemirokun      -           Diocese of Ijebu North.

            The following Bishops were duly elected and consecrated to succeed the           retiring Bishops:

            [i]       Rt. Revd. Prince Asukwuo Antai        -           Diocese of Uyo

            [ii]      Rt. Revd. Dr. Williams Oluwarotimi Aladekugbe – Diocese of Oyo

            [iii]     Rt. Revd. Captain Johnson Ekwe        -           Diocese of Niger West

            [iv]     Rt. Revd. Moses Tabwaye                     -           Diocese of Gwagwalada

            [v]      Rt. Revd. Isaac Oluyamo                                    -           Diocese of Ijebu-North.

            While the new Bishops of Uyo, and Oyo Dioceses were consecrated at     the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, Enugu on 16th September,      2014; the new Bishops of Niger West, Gwagwalada, and Ijebu-North            Dioceses were consecrated at All Saints' Cathedral, Onitsha on Sunday          26th April, 2015 by His Grace, The Most Revd. Nicholas Oko, The Primate        of all Nigeria, assisted by many Archbishops and Bishops.  We        prayerfully congratulate these fathers in God and wish them and their   wives very faithful, fruitful, and impactful episcopacy.    

[e]      DIVCCON – Divine Commonwealth Conference.

            Once again, we thank God that this great spiritual convocation was given           birth to by Church of Nigeria through the instrumentality of our dear          Primate.  The 2014 edition of this Conference was held at the National          Christian centre, Abuja from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th November, 2014.    Because of the importance we have attached to this conference, we have       over the years made it compulsory for all the Clergymen in this Diocese             to attend and where possible with their wives.  Seasoned preachers and     teachers of the word were used by God to bless the conferees in the last       edition through sermons, seminars, prayers, and counseling.  Our             Diocese fully sponsored four youths to the last edition.  The 2015 Divine Commonwealth Conference has been slated for Monday 9th to Friday             13th November, 2015 at the same venue.  We still passionately appeal to            our lay members to identify with this great move of God, and become         active participants.  This year the Diocese intends to sponsor ten [10]       young people who will be selected from the Diocesan Youth Church             [DYC] due to their commitment and usefulness.

[f]       St. Matthias' Evangelism Fund:

            The 2015 edition of this fund collection was held on Sunday 22nd             February, 2015.  We must appreciate our Churches and institutions for          heeding to our passionate appeal to see the urgency and importance of       this fund.  The Diocese did very well in this year's exercise.  We must at     this point appreciate the efforts of the Principals of our Convent, and         Seminary who really mobilized the students to take part in the exercise.              Why we struggle so much in moving our adult Church members towards             voluntary and sacrificial giving is simply because, we failed to lay a firm             foundation on Giving for them at infancy and fragile level of their             growth. We commend the Priests for their doggedness and forthrightness in making the exercise this year a huge success.

 

PROVINCE OF THE NIGER MATTERS:

NEW DEAN:

Let us officially congratulate our Archbishop, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi on his appointment as the new Dean of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  We pray for greater Grace, wisdom, and strength to faithfully execute the demands of the new office to the Glory of God.

PROVINCIAL EPISCOPAL SYNOD AND COUNCIL MEETINGS:

During the year under review, the Province of the Niger held two Episcopal Synod/Council Meetings. On 11th and 12 September, 2014 the meeting was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John Ekwulobia.  The second meeting took place on 25th and 26th February, 2015 at the Cathedral Church of St. James, Atani in Ogbaru Diocese.   The meetings were hosted successfully and hospitably by the Dioceses of Aguata, and Ogbaru respectively.

 

All  ANGLICANS  PRAYER  RALLY:

Our province convened a very historic, glorious and eventful Prayer Rally at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka on Saturday November 1, 2014.  This maiden Prayer Rally involving All Anglicans in Anambra State even though a child of circumstance brought Anglicans from all walks of life together in the Spirit of oneness, prayer and worship. The attendance to this Prayer Rally was shockingly robust and intimidating.  The Province of the Niger for the first time prayed consciously together for our Church, State of Anambra, and Nigeria in general.  We thank God for our Archbishop, The most Revd. C.O. Efobi, all the Bishops in our Province, the entire Clergy and laity for making the Anglican Church proud through aggressive mass mobilization of our people.  May we remind us that we agreed to make this one day Prayer Rally an annual event which should be coming up on the Saturday closest to All Saints' Day.  Brethren, Prayer works more than every other weapon.  God no doubt answers the prayers of His people.  We sincerely thank the Archbishop, Bishops and the organizers of the event for giving us the privilege of preaching the sermon in this maiden edition.  The theme was, “Heal Our Land O Lord”.

PAUL UNIVERSITY, AWKA:

We congratulate the University for her maiden Convocation ceremony which was held on 10th October, 2014.  The institution has a new Vice Chancellor now in the person of Ven. Prof. Uche .C. Abanihe. Until his appointment, he was with the University of Ibadan.  Our honest prayer is that the Almighty God will use him to inject new life and vigour into this great citadel of learning which should be the pride of Anglicans in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of Nigeria. We appeal to all of us to be proud of this University by supporting it in all forms to succeed.

 

 

 

 

DIOCESE OF AMICHI => GENERAL OVERVIEW OF NOTABLE EVENTS, AND PROGRAMMES CUM PROJECTS:

[a]      CHURCH WORKERS AND WIVES RETREATS:

In the bid to remain refreshed, current, functional and relevant in our ministry and calling, the Diocese organizes periodic Church workers and wives Retreat, Seminar, and Meetings for the Clergy, Church-Teachers, and their wives.  Within the Synod year under focus we had some of such Retreats.  On Friday August 1, 2014, these servants of God converged at the Holy Child Convent, Amichi for such a soul-enriching retreat.  The topic of our deliberation was “The Clergyman as a Faith Contender”.  Revd. Pascal Umeoduagu spoke on the topic during which he outlined three major reasons every Clergyman should contend for the Faith.  They according to him include:

[i]       The devil is ceaselessly fighting hard against the Church.

[ii]      The devil through his subtle schemes has continued to lure believers to             lose their salvation and justification in Christ Jesus.

[iii]     The devil intimidates Christians through inflicting pains, dis-          appointments and failures.

He maintained that we can only contend effectively against the devil by correctly handling the word of God, and by co-ordinated fervent prayer lifestyle.

On the same day, a seminar titled “The Imperatives of Youth Ministry in the Future Life of the Anglican Church” was taken.  Revd. Chidi Enemo while handling the Seminar emphasized the strategic place of youths in the affairs of the family, Church, and society.  He opined that both the Church and society are losing grip on matters relating to young people.  The Church according to him should consciously and determinedly step in and rescue our youths from the devil.  The following steps were suggested to be taken in the aggressive rescue mission:

[a]      The battle should be taken to the home front.

[b]      Attention should be given to the needs of our youths in the Church          liturgy.

[c]       The Clergymen and other Church workers in the Anglican Church            should be trained and re-trained for efficient youth ministry, and          networking among themselves.

[d]      Youth friendly programmes should be organized in our Churches.

[e]      Parents and older members of our Church should set worthy examples             for the young people to emulate.

[f]       Very strong fervent Prayer altars should be raised for the young people            by parents and Priests in securing these youths.

The Seminar generated very serious discussion and deliberations as a result of the gravity and enormity of issues raised.  After a protracted discussion and brain-storming, Revd. Chidi Enemo was appointed by us to start and co-ordinate a Youth Church in the Diocese which shall be meeting once every month.  He was authorized to form a Youth Church Committee that will help to actualize the vision.  He was however cautioned with his committee members not to make the Youth Church a parallel Church to the main Church.  Also they were meant to know that the Youth Church should not conduct baptisms, weddings, child dedication, outing services, etc.  They should not also collect tithes and stewardship.  They are to take offerings, seed of faith, birthday celebrations and free-will donations. 

On 16th October, 2014, another Church workers and wives Retreat was held at St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi.  The theme of the Retreat was, “Avoiding the Woes of the Pharisees in the Ministry”.  The preacher, Ven. David Nonyelum said that our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced woes on the Pharisees because of the following:

[i]       Their lives and behaviour made it very difficult for others to embrace     the Gospel message.

[ii]      They devoured widows and vulnerable people morally and financially.

[iii]     They were converting people after their evil nature and ways thereby    making them twice the children of the devil and hell fire instead of making them disciples of God.

[iv]     They were doctrinally deficient.

[v]      They were paying attention to irrelevant things, ignoring the weightier matters of life and ministry.

He maintained that if present day ministers of the Gospel will avoid these woes, they must realize and be sure of God's agenda in their call and ministry.  They ought to remember the grievous vows and oaths they took, and endeavour to keep them.  They should also know that the ministry and flock do not belong to them.  Finally, they must remember that the day of Reckoning is coming.  It was actually a solemn moment of reflection on the grave demands of our ministry.

 

DIOCESAN CITY-WIDE CRUSADE:

The Diocese organized and executed a mega crusade tagged “Diocesan City-Wide Crusade” which took place from Thursday 28th August to Sunday 31st August, 2014.  The theme of the Crusade was “Who is on the Lord's Side?”  The major aim of the crusade was to instill the spirit of true and uncompromising worship in the life of Christians especially in our Diocese.  It was aimed at taking the theme of our Synod last year to the grassroots.  It was indeed a glorious Gospel outreach that dove-tailed into a great harvest of souls for Christ Jesus, and the strengthening of believers to stand for Jesus no matter what the multitude is doing.  The Crusade took place at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew field, Amichi.  Evangelist Nnamdi Eze preached on 28th and 29th August, while the Bishop of the Diocese of Amichi spoke on 30th and 31st August, 2014.  Bro. Cornelius Benjamin and Sis. Ugo Chinonyerem were the guest Gospel singers that led in praises.  Our own Bro. Ebere Ezeani; and Bro. Ugochukwu, and Diocesan Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir were also on ground which made the crusade very grand.  It was an overflowing mammoth crowd which made it the biggest Gospel Crusade held in Nnewi South local government area, Anambra State in recent years.  We truly appreciate the organizing committee led by Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka, the entire Clergymen, and other Church workers, the women ministry, and indeed all who made it a huge success.  It was truly impactful and the Church, Diocese, and society are still reaping its fruit till date.

 

2014  FIRST BORNS NIGHT:

As we have been made to know, this is a special programme designed for all the first male and female children of their parents.  The 2014 edition of this crucial and all-important programme was held on Friday 3rd December, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The theme for this edition was “Recovering the Excellency in you”.  It was another gathering of multitudes from various States of Nigeria and all walks of life.  His Lordship, the Rt. Revd. Ephraim .O. Ikeakor, Bishop of the Diocese of Amichi was the preacher.  In his sermon, the first borns were made to understand that they inherited four Divine positions by virtue of being the first borns.  The four divinely inherited positions are:

[i]       Every firstborn is the might of his/her family.

[ii]      Every firstborn is the beginning of strength of the family.

[iii]     Every firstborn is the excellency of dignity to his/her family.

[iv]     Every firstborn is the excellency of economic, financial, academic, and     spiritual power at all times for the family.

The Bishop emphasized regrettably that many firstborns have lost the excellency in them due to either carelessness, ignorance, and foolishness.  He maintained that no matter to what extent this excellency has been lost, it is still recoverable.  This can only be possible by totally and absolutely surrendering of their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the giver, sustainer, and recoverer of destinies and excellencies.  It was a night of fervent, aggressive, and powerful prayers for repositioning of the firstborns.  God really manifested His power in the midst of this special people called the firstborns.  A lot of the firstborns renewed their Covenant with God through accepting the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives as their Lord and Saviour.  We thank God for what He has done, and what He is still doing.  The 2015 Firstborns' Night has been slated for Friday 6th November, 2015 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi at 9.00 p.m.  Endeavour not to miss this special opportunity provided by God for all the first borns.

 

 

ADVENT ORDINATION/COLLATION OF ARCHDEACONS AND CANONS:

The 6th Advent Ordination of the Diocese took place on Sunday 6th December, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  The retreatant was Ven. E.C. Nnoli.  Two Ordinands were made Deacons in the persons of:

            [a]      Revd. Ugonna Nwagu

            [b]      Revd. Arc. Nnamdi Unozo.

Those ordained Priests in the service were:

            [a]      Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem

            [b]      Revd. Chidi Enemo

            [c]       Revd. Chidozie Madu

            [d]      Revd. James Mbonu.

In the same service, the Bishop collated two Archdeacons and four Canons. Those collated Archdeacons were:

            [i]       Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka

            [ii]      Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo.

The four Priests collated Canons were:

            [i]       Revd. Patrick Onwuzurike

            [ii]      Revd. Marcel Ezegwu

            [iii]     Revd.  Fidelis Ogene

            [iv]     Revd. Bertram Muogbo.

 

PRAYER BREAKFAST:

This is a special prayer gathering of God's people every first day of the month at the Cathedral.  The programme has been in constant expansion in population of attendees.  People come from all the South-East States of Nigeria including Asaba to start each new month in the presence of the Almighty God.  To the Glory of God, testimonies abound in many quarters and lips of how this program has been of tremendous blessings to people and families.  It holds at 6.00 a.m. every first day of the month.  The last episode every year holds on 1st December every year and it is called, “Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving”.  It is usually an avenue to voluntarily and sincerely thank God for all His Mercies and Graces upon His children throughout the year.  2014 Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving took a new dimension whereby God's children were mobilized to really appreciate God sacrificially.  Families, Archdeaconries, individuals came with bountiful gifts in appreciation of God's goodness to them for the whole year.  In addition to other materials, and physical cash, a total of seventeen Cows were used for thanksgiving.  It was a very great moment of celebration of joy in the presence of God. The Bishop pronounced Episcopal and prophetic blessings on the people throughout the Christmas period.  We believe that this year's Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving will be greater in all ramifications. We implore all our members to develop the attitude of thanking and appreciating God through sacrificial giving.

Worthy of note is the Prophetic Prayer Breakfast of 2015.  This is the name tag for January Prayer Breakfast every year.  It takes place on 1st January of the year. This particular Prayer breakfast draws the biggest crowd of participants.  Those living very far away both in Nigeria and in Diaspora see it as the only opportunity they have in participating in this great move of God.  This year's Prophetic Prayer Breakfast was peculiar because of the uncertain political and economic atmosphere pervading the nation.  The topic of this year was, “Fear Not, It is the Year of the Lord”.  It is usually a time the Lord Bishop declares through prophetic utterances what God says to individuals, Church, and nation for the unfolding year.  The Bishop in his ministration gave six prophecies of what God said about the year 2015 and Nigeria thus:

[a]      2015 is a very peculiar and difficult year for Nigeria and Nigerians.

[b]      The beginning of this year shall be very difficult, turbulent, and      discouraging, yet it is a year of signs and wonders, victory and triumph.

[c]       God's Covenant children will live in peace.

[d]      Though the world economy including that of Nigeria will be shaky, but   God will bless his children.

[e]      Things that will cause fear will happen this year, but the children of God            should not fear.

[f]       Prayer of faith and absolute trust in God will open doors of peace and     success in Nigeria and for Nigerians.

We give God all the Glory that He does not lie.  Watching the turn of events in our dear country today, we can only raise our hands in worship to God because what He has said, that He has done.  May we advise those who don't have the CD of 2015 Prophetic Prayer Breakfast to pick a copy with our tape department outside.  What is said here is just a tip of the iceberg.  The full dose of what God said about our Nation and us are contained in the tape.

 

MAIDEN DIOCESAN SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS:

The maiden service of nine Lessons and Carols at the Diocesan level was held on Sunday 21st December, 2014 at the Cathedral.  It came up at 1.00 p.m.  His Excellency, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was the father of the day.  His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi also graced the occasion.  Among the dignitaries who read the lessons were: Dr. Nkem Okeke – The deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Nkem Ikeakor – Diocesan President of Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, Chief Dr. S.N. Okeke – Former Chairman, Nigeria Police Service Commission, Hon. Justice Gloria .C. Anulude – Chancellor, Diocese of Amichi, Sir Dr. Ugochukwu .C. Nzewi – Former Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, and others.  The service featured Choirs from various Archdeaconries, Diocesan Choir, Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir.  The guest Choirs that performed at the occasion were: St. Andrew's D.C.C. Choir, Nnewi, and the Gentle Voice Chorale.  It was a very special joyful moment as God's people sang the Christmas traditional hymns, anthems and songs to usher in the Christ of Christmas.  The Bishop delivered a very brief Christmas homily and blessed the congregation.  One of the outstanding things that happened in the service was the announcement made by the Bishop openly that no donation is allowed in the service.  According to the Bishop, it is time for the Church to start redeeming her smeared image by beginning to let people know that there are occasions people can come to Church, worship God with joy without being asked to raise one manner of fund or the other.

 

DIOCESAN SOLEMN ASSEMBLY/PRAYER RALLY:

This special Diocesan Prayer Rally took place on Saturday 7th February, 2015 at the Cathedral field.  The solemn assembly was occasioned by the recent wave of attacks on the Church by the masquerade cult in Amichi town.  This unprovoked wave of attacks culminated in the physical assault and molestation of one of our Priests – Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem on 22nd December, 2014.  As a result of this satanic, primordial, un-civilized development, the Bishop who strongly believes that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down the strongholds of the devil and his cohorts, called on our members to seek the face of God in prayer.  The situation degenerated to the point that our Cathedral was desecrated by the same masquerade cult by going inside the Cathedral premises and placing tender palm fronds on the sign post and gate of the Cathedral.  Every true Igbo son and daughter knows the meaning of such act on any land or property.  On that day, Anglican faithfuls across the Diocese and even beyond appeared in full black attire to call on God for divine help in the face of the mounting challenges and conspiracy facing His Church.  The Bishop preached on “Repentance, Restoration, and Resistance”.  He reiterated that repentance precedes restoration, and unless it takes place, the Church or the believer in Christ cannot resist the devil victoriously.  In highlighting what gives the devil and his agents the guts to attack the Church and her members successfully without any recompense from God, the Bishop lamented on the following:

[i]       The Church has become a conforming Church instead of a transforming            Church.

[ii]      The Church has abandoned her divine mandate of making disciples to    building of structures only. 

[iii]     The Church has become friendly with sin and idolatry instead of   rebuking sin, and rejecting idolatry.

[iv]     The Church has become the loin of the society instead of being the light of the world.

The Bishop said that he was still wandering in thought why any right-thinking person from Amichi town would conceive and execute the thought of attacking the Anglican Church in Amichi which has devoted her resources fully towards the building, blessing, development of the town in health sector, education, youth empowerment, preaching liberating Gospel of Christ, community social responsibility and welfare of widows and indigent members of the town.  However, the stunned Anglican faithfuls were led in series of intercessory prayers for the Church, Diocese, Anambra State, and the General elections.  May we herein thank all our members who genuinely stood with the Church in such time of distress and unexplainable attacks and confrontation.  The Almighty and Gracious God on whose side you stand will surely bless, preserve and protect you all in Jesus Christ Name.

Our fatherly counsel to our members especially the male folk is to stop joining darkness to fight the light or sitting on the face.  We know some of you are not happy with us because we maintain that we must divorce idolatry, syncretism, and ungodly traditions and culture from the Church, and true worship of God.  That does not bother us because we have a mandate from God on why He gave us the episcopacy of Amichi Diocese.  The worst enemies the Church has been having right from the birth of the Church were the enemies within and inside the Church.  The good news is that the Church of God will continue to move forward and even the very gates of hell cannot stop or hinder her.

 

DIOCESAN  VIGIL:

The Diocese has a bi-monthly prayer vigil which is co-ordinated by the Diocesan Prayer Co-coordinator, Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie.  After the last Synod, on Friday 12th September, 2014 the whole Diocese gathered in St. Simon's Church, Ezinifite for prayers and intercession.  The preacher in this edition was Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka.  He spoke on “When the Church prays”.  According to him, the greatest weapon at the disposal of the Church is the weapon of Prayer.  Prayer has no substitute he maintained.  He stressed that while many people know about prayer; teach prayer, yet very few people actually pray.  He warned that those who refuse to pray in advance, eventually pray in arrears.  The next vigil took place at Holy Trinity Church, Utuh on Friday 20th March, 2015.  Revd. Chukwubuikem Isaiah spoke on “Undoing the Deeds of the Enemy”.   According to him, in order to undo anything, one must first of all identify the problem, identify the source of the problem and then face it by undoing them.  It was indeed a night of fervent and effectual prayers. 

 

2015 CLERGY, CHURCH TEACHERS, AND WIVES SET APART:

As a way of equipping ourselves for more effective and fruitful ministry and ministration for the year, all the Clergymen, Church teachers, and their wives together with the Bishop and his wife withdraw for three days for spiritual reflections, prayers and meditations every January.  2015 Church workers and wives set apart took place from Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th January, 2015 at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi.  The theme for this year's set apart was “Making your Calling and Election Sure” [1 Peter 1:10].  The guest preacher was Revd. Canon Goddy Iloka from Diocese on the Niger.  One of the cardinal points he stressed was that effective ministry begins with divine encounter.  He broke the theme into three sub-headings thus: [a] Our Calling, our Election, our Family, [b] The Anglican Priest and Competing interests, and [c] Raising Genuine disciples. Another resource person who spoke to us on “Financial Management and Investment” was Ven. Dave Udoezika from Diocese on the Niger.  He opened the eyes of the participants to why many Church workers suffer unduly immediately after retirement.  Some become constantly sick, depressed, and die suddenly if they don't have children who are well established.  According to him, poor planning, careless spending, ungodly and unnecessary emulation are some of the problems many Church workers and wives have when they are still active in ministry.  He vigorously encouraged the participants to begin to make wise and prudent financial decisions both for themselves, and the Church stations where they serve.  The Bible study which was centered on “The Leaven of the Pharisees”, was facilitated by Ven. P.C. Chukwuemeka.  The set apart generally was a very life enriching and transforming programme.

 

 

 

2015 COVENANT SUNDAY:

The Diocesan 2015 Covenant Sunday Service was held on Sunday 25th January, 2015 at the Cathedral.  The theme for the sermon on the occasion was “Fear Not” taken from Isaiah 41:10.  It was without doubt a great gathering of God's people from all over the Diocese and beyond.  In his sermon, the Bishop made the congregation to understand that whenever God says “Fear Not” to any person or people, it means that there are situations and circumstances that would cause fear.  He emphasized that Fear has been and still is the greatest weapon with which the devil stops God's children from moving forward and achieving meaningful success.  He challenged the worshippers to know that, for the fearful, obstacles are hindrances, but for the courageous, obstacles are opportunities.  The Bishop further expounded ten [10] things that happen to God's children who do not fear.  They include but not limited to:

[i]       God is always with them.

[ii]      God strengthens them.

[iii]     God will help them in all situations.

[iv]     God will uphold them with His righteous hand.

[v]      God becomes an enemy to all their enemies.

[vi]     God renews their strength for greater exploits.

[vii]    The Almighty God will always do things that will cause joy in their lives.

[viii]  God always intervenes on their behalf.

[ix]     God will never forsake them and their families.

[x]      God does unimaginable miracles in their lives.

According to him, the only fear approved for every child of God is to fear God.  The Bishop finally pronounced Episcopal and prophetic blessings on the mammoth crowd after leading them to the prayers of Covenant Renewal with God.  The people also made voluntary covenant commitments to the Lord God financially on behalf of themselves, families, businesses, and careers.

 

2015 COMBINED LENTEN MEDITATIONS:

This year's Diocesan Combined Lenten Meditations witnessed a massive participation from all Anglicans across the Diocese.  Every Wednesday throughout the lent period, the Diocese gathered as a family of faith in different parishes to meditate together on the word of God, chant the litany, and worship God in songs and hymns. This year's combined Lenten meditations took place in the following Churches:

[a]      25/02/2015 => Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  Revd. James Mbonu spoke on the topic, “I am with you says the Lord”.

[b]      04/03/2015 => Immanuel Church, Ekwulumili.  Ven. Chukwuebuka     Chukwuemeka preached on the topic, “Enjoying God's presence and companionship”.

[c]       11/03/2015 => Ebenezer Anglican Church, Unubi. Ven. David Nonyelum             Ministered on the topic, “Dangers of living without the Presence of God”.

[d]      18/03/2015 => St. Philip's Church, Amichi.  Ven. Chika Mbeyi spoke on            the topic, “Looking unto Jesus in times of trouble”.

[e]      On the 25th of March, 2015 at St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi during the last edition for the year, His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor spoke on “What is wrong with me?”  He wondered why there is so much prayers going on in the Church, yet not much answers are received.  The Bishop pointed out that no amount of prayers made in unrighteousness will make any difference.  He continued by saying that no problem is insurmountable when God's people pray in righteousness.  As has been the tradition, the last edition of the Combined Lenten Meditation is usually a time the Lord Bishop pronounces special Episcopal blessings on the congregation.  One of the special highlights of this year's last combined Lenten meditation was the presentation of a Camry Car donated by Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi to Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem to replace his car vandalized by the masquerade cult in Amichi on 22nd December, 2014.  This was not the first time Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi has made the Diocese to conclude Lenten meditation in a celebration and joyful mood.  In 2012, he denoted Audi 80 Car, and asked the Bishop to give same to any Clergyman he deemed proper to aid his work in the ministry.  In 2013, before the advent ordination, the same Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi brought a clean Audi 80 Car to the Bishop, and asked us to give it to one of the newly ordained that had no car.  Early this year, he gave a brand new LCD twenty one inches television, and 2600 generator to the Bishop to be given to two Clergymen of our choice who don't have such items.  We don't really know how exactly to thank this man who I see as a special gift to the Diocese.  He is neither a businessman, politician nor contractor but a retired public servant.  This man, and Engr. Sir C.O. Umeigbo are the only people who support “In Touch with God Radio/TV” Programmes financially.  May the Almighty reward you with long life, good health and finally eternal life in His Kingdom.  We just pray that other Knights will emulate men like these and others not mentioned here to move this Diocese forward.

 

2014 WIDOWS' CHRISTMAS PARTY:

This special welfare occasion was celebrated on the 23rd December, 2014 for all widows in the Diocese.   This has been an annual event which attracts even widows from other denominations.  The number of widows coming for the party increases greatly each year.  The event took place at the Cathedral.  The Bishop's wife, Dame Nkem Ikeakor led other Clergy wives in serving sumptuous meal to the widows.  Every widow after feeding, and being ministered to through the word of God went home with half bag of rice, and tin tomatoes.  They were prayed for by the Bishop and Clergy.  The number of widows coming for this event is greatly increasing every year and the Diocese is passionately appealing to public and welfare spirited individuals, and even companies to support this laudable project, and welfare evangelism.  This year we are expecting between eight hundred and one thousand widows.  So we need at least four hundred bags of rice, and four hundred cartons of small tin tomatoes. 

 

NIGHT OF EVIDENCE:

The 2015 Night of Evidence took place on Good Friday, 3rd April, 2015 at the Cathedral field.  It was an all night programme.  The theme for this year's Night of Evidence was “At His Name”.  The people were richly blessed through the word of God preached, and the Gospel singers who ministered that night.  The Bishop during his ministration spoke extensively on ten [10] things that happen at the mention of the Name of Jesus.  They include:

[a]      Deformed sinners become transformed saints.

[b]      Demons and demonic powers are overcome.

[c]       Prayers are answered.

[d]      Healings take place.

[e]      Deliverances take place.

[f]       Unusual miracles take place.

[g]      Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit and they speak in tongues.

[h]      Believers receive divine empowerment.

[i]       Christians receive divine security and immunity.

[j]       Satan the devil and all his principalities are resisted effectively, and          defeated.

A lot of people surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ during the Altar Call.  It was a glorious coming together of people from within and outside the Diocese, and Anambra State.  To God be all the glory and praise both now and always for what He is doing among His people.  There were testimonies of God's visitation in 2014 edition of the programme by different people. 

 

2015 DIOCESAN HARVEST:

Once every four years, the Diocese come together for a combined Diocesan Harvest and Bazaar.  This year's harvest took place on Easter Monday, 6th April, 2015.  The Church service took place in the Cathedral, while the sales and bazaar took place in the Cathedral field.  The guest preacher was Evang. Nnamdi Ezeh who spoke on “The God of Unpopular Demand”.  The theme of the Harvest was “HARVEST OF COSTLY SACRIFICE”.  The preacher said that it is the value we place on God that determines the gift we give to Him.  There were presentations of gifts and materials from Archdeaconries, Parishes, Churches, Church Institutions, families and individuals.  We want to thank and appreciate the Harvest Planning Committee chaired by Sir Chidi Onumajuru for their efforts and commitment in planning and executing the harvest.  A total of eleven million naira [N11m] was realized in the exercise.  We also appreciate few Knights and Ladies who were present in the occasion.  Our Church workers need special commendation for their determination in making the exercise a success to the extent it was.

 

WAILING WOMEN PRAYER SUMMIT:

This programme designed and packaged specifically for women and ladies is growing in leaps and bounds.  Both 2014 and 2015 editions witnessed attendance from neighbouring Cameroon, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.  Women and ladies also came in grooves from South-East, South-South, and South-West of Nigeria.  After last year's programme, the participants voluntarily made donations for the purchase of two hummer buses in commemoration of the tenth year anniversary of Wailing Women Prayer Summit.

To the Glory of God, the two buses have been bought since November last year.  This year's wailing women prayer summit took place from 14th to 17th May, 2017.  The theme was “All Manner of Prayers”.  Those that moderated and ministered during the programme were, Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie, Ven David Nonyelum, Ven. Chika Mbeyi, Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka, and Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor.  The programme this year can simply be described as awesome, glorious and powerful.  Indeed the programme witnessed all manner of prayers by the women, ladies and girls.  We had between three to four thousand persons in attendance.  On the last day, twenty-five women and ladies gave life inspiring and praise igniting testimonies.  God is indeed powerful and excellent in what He does in all generations. The Bishop pronounced great prophetic blessings and declarations throughout the programme on the women and their families.  As an appreciation for what God did for them, a donation to purchase over two thousand plastic chairs were made by the women.  May we here in a special way appreciate Evang. Kingsley Agbadike who is the chairman of Programme Packaging Team of the Bishop [PPT] for a job well executed.  The Bishop in his closing charge encouraged the women to maintain holiness and true righteousness at all times to sustain the miracles they received from God.  Many souls were won for Christ during the programme.

 

DIOCESAN COUNCIL OF KNIGHTS:

We want to most sincerely thank and appreciate the President of Diocesan Council of Knights, Sir Dr. Eddy Agbasimelo, and his executive committee members for the decent and mature manner they are piloting the affairs of the Council, and their cordial partnership with the Diocese.  The council has been partnering with the Diocese in the annual widows Christmas Party though not in a commensurate expected magnitude.  The Council has also undertaken to complete the fencing of the Diocesan Retreat Centre land at Ekwulumili since 2013.  We passionately appeal to the noble Knights to expedite action to complete the work this year.  The prompt payment of their assessment quota to the Diocese every year is also commendable.  The annual Retreat and Re-dedication service for 2015 took place from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd May, 2015 at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Akabu-Osumenyi.  Let us specially thank all those Knights and ladies who participated in the exercise.  It was a time of robust interaction and brainstorming between the Knights and the Bishop.  A lot of nagging issues and questions were put to rest through exhaustive explanation and elucidation by the Bishop.

However, we are not pleased one bit with the commitment and attitude of majority of the knights to both the affairs of the Knights in particular, and the Diocese at large.  There are Knights and ladies we met for the first time in that Retreat since the inception of the Diocese over six years ago.  It is our candid opinion and advice that there is no need for anyone to get involved in what he or she knows that he cannot do well or meet the demands of.  We have been very patient with these unconcerned, non-committed, unserious, and Ghost Knights and ladies.  Between now and December 31st, 2015, let all such concerned Knights and Ladies take a firm decision whether to be a Knight/ lady in this Diocese.  From January 2016, we shall be left with no other option than to derobe such unprofitable, faceless Knights. 

It is also very important to remind us again that even if you choose to de-register with our Diocesan Council, and at the same time remain active in your Diaspora Council, they can never be permitted to accord you any official rite and privilege in the event of any joyful or sorrowful occurrences to you within our Diocese.  In order to boost the membership and number of faithful and committed Knights in the Diocese, we intend to investiture another batch of Knights come 2016.  The selection process has been in progress, and will soon be concluded.  Our last investiture was in 2010.  The greater discouragement and disappointment came from the batch of 2010.  We therefore pray and beseech those Knights and Ladies found wanting to rise to the demand of the oath and vow of their investiture.  Those whose wives are active but the Knights themselves are not should be reminded that they, and not their wives are the Knights.  Their wives are just Ladies auxiliary whose role and functionality should be supportive.

 

WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS:

We are always grateful to God for the gift of the women folk to the Church.  The women organizations which include Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild have done great and wonderful things in the period under review.  The full report of their activities is contained in the Synod reports.  But permit us to inform this august audience that the women organizations during their last Diocesan Women Conference empowered fifty [50] indigent petty women traders with the sum of ten thousand naira [N10,000.=] each for their small businesses.  This was not a loan but free welfare and empowerment support.  The kind of joy and tears of joy this singular act of charity elucidated among the women, both the beneficiaries, their friends, and the women generally need only to be witnessed instead of being reported. The women organizations in their usual and traditional manner of support to the Diocese purchased about four hundred and fifty cartons of tin tomatoes for distribution to Widows during the 2014 Widows Christmas Party.  This was in addition to the sumptuous meal they prepared and served all the widows that were present at their own expense.  During the 2015 Mothering Sunday celebration, the women added another feather to their cap by selecting and visiting with fully loaded hampers mothers who are from eighty years and above; and the sick/indigent ones from all the Archdeaconries in the Diocese.  The President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, Dame Nkem Ikeakor, and all the Archdeacons wives were part of the visiting entourage.  They have invested much money in expanding their thirty thousand capacities Fishery which now has very standard and buoyant hatchery section.  They now sell fingerlings in thousands, smoked fish, and fresh fish in retail and wholesale.  The prompt payment of their assessment to the Diocese has been of immense assistance to the Diocese. They were the arrow head in the wide and virile publicity given to Wailing Women Prayer Summit.  They went to all the markets in all the towns that make up the Diocese.  The grand Rally and Publicity took them to Nnobi, Igboukwu, Uga, Umuchu, Umunze, Nnewi and Ukpor.  They are partnering with the Diocese in the building of a three-storey hostel at Master's Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  They have formed Prayer team at various levels which upholds the Church workers, Diocese, women, and their ministry in Prayer steadily.  Once again, we appreciate the work of the women organizations.  May God in His infinite mercy continue to bless the women without limit and boundaries in Jesus Christ Name.  Amen.

 

CONFIRMATION AND ADMISSIONS:

Within the year in review, the Confirmation, and Admissions schedules and statistics stand thus:

S/N

   

                         CHURCH

 

        DATE

CONFIR-

MATION

GIRLS'

GUILD

WOMEN'S

GUILD

MOTHERS'

UNION

 

AMCF

1.

ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH,  UNUBI

06/07/2014

11

8

1

-

-

2.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, AMICHI

10/08/2014

19

4

2

2

 

3.

ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH, EBENATOR

17/08/2014

15

1

1

-

-

4.

IMMANUEL CHURCH, AKWAIHEDI

24/08/2014

17

6

6

2

-

5.

ST. MARY'S CHURCH, EZINIFITE

21/09/2014

23

4

10

2

-

6.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

28/09/2014

11

3

4

1

-

7.

EBENEZER CHURCH, UNUBI

02/11/2014

24

7

5

2

-

8.

CATHEDRAL CH. OF ST. ANDREW, AMICHI

30/11/2014

38

3

2

3

-

9.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI

02/12/2014

61

-

-

-

-

10

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI

03/12/2014

33

28

-

-

-

11.

ALL SAINTS' CHURCH, EKWULUMILI

21/12/2014

20

11

2

2

-

12.

ST. SIMON'S CHURCH, EZINIFITE

15/02/2015

27

7

7

-

-

13.

ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

12/04/2015

15

13

5

1

-

 

TOTAL

 

314

95

45

15

4

 

 

 

 

IN TOUCH WITH GOD RADIO/TV.  MINISTRY:

By the special Grace of God, our Media Evangelism outreach is making greater impacts, and waves within South-East, South-South, and part of North Central zones of Nigeria.  One can now view some of our special programmes in Anglican Cable Network, Nigeria [ACNN].  We also expanded our target audience coverage and added another two radio stations.  In Touch with God Radio programme is now broadcast in the following Radio Stations:

[i]       BCA,  Umuahia                   88.1 FM, Umuahia [Saturday 6.30 – 7.00 a.m.]

[ii]      Purity FM, Awka              -  102.5 FM, Awka  [Sunday 8.30 – 9.00 p.m.]

[iii]     Unity FM, Abakaliki         -  101.5 FM, Abakaliki [Sunday 3.15 & 8.30 p.m.]

[iv]     Blaze Radio, Oraifite       -  91.5 FM, Oraifite  [Sunday7.00 – 7.30 p.m.]

[v]      Odenigbo Radio, Obosi   -  91.1 FM, Obosi  [Friday 7.00 – 7.30 p.m.]

We thank God for the testimonies of Salvation, Deliverance and Healings we receive as responses from our listeners.  It is needful here for us to thank Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi, and Engr. Sir C.O. Umeigbo who are the only individuals from our Diocese who have assisted the Diocese in sponsoring the programme.  May the good Lord continue to bless them and replenish them abundantly.  We still appeal to individuals and organization to join hands with us in taking the Gospel of God and His Christ to the corrupt, deformed, and perverse generation like ours.  The only true answer to the myriads of challenges and problems of man, humanity and society both now and always is the Word of God.  Let us use our resources to sponsor the Gospel.  The time to do that is now.

 

CLERGY MATTERS:

Even though this is not a cheering news, it has become absolutely necessary to bring to the notice of this assembly that we have withdrawn our Ordination License, and Letters of Order from Revd. Chukwunonso Ikenna Okwuorah.  We were left with this unsavory last option after we have tried pastorally for a long time to make him change his immoral and dubious lifestyle to no avail.  As this his way of life began to affect the Church negatively and terribly too, we took the hard decision to withdraw his Ordination License from him.  It is never the prayer of any Bishop that after few years of the Ordination of a Clergyman, he will withdraw his license.  Be it therefore known to all people that Mr. Chukwunonso .I. Okwuorah is no longer a Clergyman in the Diocese of Amichi. Any person dealing with him in that regard and capacity is deliberately doing that at his or her choice and risk.  This is important to mention because the said Chukwunonso Okwuorah has consciously refused to return our Ordination License to us as we demanded from him.  He is still parading himself as a Priest, and deceiving people out there.

In another development, Revd. Silas Odimegwu is no longer one of our Priests in this Diocese.  He came to us and demanded a letter of release from us, citing as his reason for leaving the Diocese that he is no longer inspired by our leadership.  He emphasized to me that he could not learn anything good from us; therefore it was better for him to relocate to another Diocese.  We gave him time to go and think about his decision, and after one week, he came back and insisted on his stance and demand.  We have therefore released him to the Diocese of Ogbaru where he claimed to have been absorbed by the Bishop.  His Canon status was withdrawn from him in line with Anglican tradition in which you don't transfer Preferrements to another Diocese.  It is left for the Bishop accepting the Clergy to prefer him if he finds his work satisfactory.  Let it be noted that there is no iota of truth in what Revd. Silas Odumegwu is saying to people that we sacked him from the Diocese.  It has also come to our knowledge that Revd. Silas is running a quasi-Prayer Ministry in Akwaihedi.  Let us advise him as a father to desist from creating problem in this Diocese where he voluntarily resigned from.  If he continues those his nefarious activities after this advise and warning in any part of the Diocese, we shall handle his case decisively and appropriately.

We wish to inform this Synod that we absorbed Ven. Chika Mbeyi into our Diocese in January, 2015.  He has since resumed his work at St. Andrew's Church, Unubi. Ven. and Mrs. Chika Mbeyi have worked with us closely since 2005.  He is an asset to the ministry by the Grace of God.  Incidentally, he is the Bible Study facilitator in this Synod.

 

 

DIOCESAN  ENDOWMENT  FUND:

This is the second year of the institution of this special fund with the approval of the Synod.  We thank God, and thank all of our members who have been faithful in contributing to this fund.  Remember that this Fund runs for three years only.  This simply means that the Endowment Fund will end in December, 2016.  The purpose of the Endowment Fund is to raise enough money to build, sustain and establish the Diocese financially.  It is also aimed at empowering the Diocese to become financially independent, and economically viable.  Surprisingly, at the time of writing this address, we have only raised the sum of nine million naira only [N9m] from all our members both at home and in Diaspora.  What exactly will nine million naira do in the financial empowerment of the Diocese? Our hearty appeal goes to all our members to make this arrangement a reality.  We have members who can give millions of naira personally towards that fund.  The time to do God's work is now.  Who knows whether you are a member of the Diocese for a time such as this? 

 

PROJECTS:

I.         HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI:

We continue to give all Glory and Thanks to the Almighty God for what He is doing in this great citadel of learning.  The recent UTME Examination result which was purely computer based showed a great and laudable performance by the students.  The least person scored one hundred and ninety-two [192] marks.  Many of the students that graduated last year secured admissions into various Universities and Institutions of Higher Learning.  The greatest and most pressing need of the Convent now is the provision of a befitting Chapel, and administrative office complex.  We appeal to all who can assist the Diocese in providing a place of worship for these wonderful young and promising damsels to please come up and assist us.   Because of the number of students in the school, there is no hall in the school that accommodates them for Sunday worship especially during the rainy season.  A total of two hundred and ninety-one [291] pupils are seeking admission into JSS 1 in the school in the current Joint Entrance Examination for Convents, and Seminaries.  We appreciate the good work of the Principal, Mrs. Ijeoma Ndoeche [JP], her team of staff, and The Board of Governors of the school ably led by Mrs. Chika Onwuka.

 

II.        MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI:

The school took its first Basic Education Certificate Examination [B.E.C.E] last June, and to the Glory of God their result was wonderful.  The three storey hostel building which was started last year is now 70% completed.  Hopefully, the facility will be ready by September this year, thereby putting to rest the challenge of hostel accommodation.  Almost all the furniture for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Building Technology laboratories have been procured.  Immediately the students pack into their new hostel block, the laboratories will be permanently and fully set up.  The gas and water piping of the Chemistry laboratory is in progress.  The school is always on her toes in terms of holding very impactful spiritual retreats and programmes for the students.  In the just concluded joint Entrance Examination for Convents, and Seminaries, two hundred and forty [240] male pupils from different parts of the country are seeking admission in JSS 1 of the School only.  We must specially commend the Principal of the school, Revd. Godson Ugochukwu, the Vice Principal, Engr. Mrs. Esther Ikedinma, all the Staff of the school, and the Board of Governors of the Seminary for the great and encouraging work they are doing in the school.  The P.T.A. of the school also needs exceptional commendation for the cooperation contributions, and partnership with the Diocese in the school.  The school is in dire need of Principal's house, staff quarters, and befitting Chapel for worship.  May the Almighty God move the hearts of our members who have both the mind, and financial where-withal to answer this clarion call in providing these facilities and structures for the school.  The most viable way and place to invest now is the lives and future of the Youths.

 

III.      DIOCESAN INTEGRATED FARM:

On 20th December, 2014 we in the company of the Clergy and Diocesan Board members commissioned and dedicated the Frozen Chicken section of the Farm.  The farm has also expanded to turkey farming in the poultry section, and the first batch of turkey was sold in the last quarter of last year.  On Monday 25th May, 2015, we dedicated the completed one storey building housing the Office complex, Administrative complex, and Staff quarters in the farm.  The fishery department has been expanded.  The farm now has a functional Hatchery section where they hatch and brood fingerlings for the farm, and other fish farmers.  Currently, they have in stock thousands of fingerlings which are of quality hybrid.  The Piggery department which is situated her in Ezinifite has around one hundred and fifty pigs in stock for sale.  They are also into Cassava and Garden egg farming.  Last year, almost all the people from within and outside Nnewi-South Local Government Area who had major occasions and events, got their garden eggs from the farm.  It is of special specie.  The fishery and poultry sections of the farm have been demarcated with wire gauze to restrict visitors from having unimpeded access into fragile and unauthorized areas of the farm.  Here in this Synod, we have asked the farm manager to make available to Synod delegates some of their products like eggs, chickens, fish, etc. for purchase.  At the appropriate time, we shall ask them to show us around.  Glowing tribute must be paid to the farm Manager, Mrs. Ngozi Akosa for deploying her professionalism ardently in running the Farm.

 

IV.      DIOCESAN SCHOOL OF NURSING/DIOCESAN HOSPITAL:

During the presentation of our Bishop's Charge to the Synod last year, we said that we have commenced the process of establishing a School of Nursing.  We also set up a Steering Committee to that effect which is headed by Mrs. Esther Maduka.  It is pertinent to let you know that we have reached an advanced stage in the vision and project.  The students' hostel which is a two storey building has been completed.  An ultra modern large Administrative Complex housing the staff offices, lecture halls and Principal's office is now ninety [90%] percent completed.  A pre-inspection visit has been paid to the school and hospital by the appropriate quarter.  Our request letter for final approval is now with the National Council of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Abuja. 

Following the pre-inspection visit, the team made some observations and recommendations of what we need to either put in place or upgrade in our hospital to hasten the approval.  By the Grace of God, most of these things have been put in place.  Practical Models, Necessary Books, and Equipments have been procured.  The Diocesan hospital has been undergoing a massive renovation as a result of the demand and directives given to the Diocese to make sure that we meet the specified and expected standard for the hospital and school of Nursing.  We are still very optimistic that the school of Nursing will take off in October this year.  Let us specially appreciate and thank His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State for the release of thirty million naira [N30m] for the Hospital Project.  Your Excellency, that money was a great source of relief to the Diocese, and it came at a very critical period.  It helped us in no small measure in continuing the work.  May God in His infinite Mercy reward you immensely for continuing the partnership between the Church, and Anambra State Government.  A look and proper valuation of the projects at the Hospital and School of Nursing will convince His Excellency and every other person that thirty million naira is just a tip of the iceberg considering the enormity and bogusness of the projects and their biting financial demands.  Let me appeal to our dear amiable Governor to just pay a brief working visit to the site. This will give you an overview and proper assessment of our demand vis-a-viz the amount of money you released to us.

The volume of work we have done in both the hospital and school of Nursing complex within this one year is not less than one hundred and twenty million naira [N120m].  The works and structures are there for all to see and evaluate.  We need concerted and allied assistance from both the Government, and Private individuals for the realization of this laudable vision.  We plead with our Governor to see the need to release more funds to the Diocese for this exercise.  This is actually what is known as Public Private Partnership Initiative [PPPI] which is the easiest and most reliable system of making the grassroots feel the impact of Government and Governance positively and practically.

We heartily express our unbridled gratitude to Dr. Azuka Nzewi who is based in UK for seeing our hospital as his pet project through the instrumentality of Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi.  Dr. Azuka Nzewi a few months ago brought in theatre equipments worth millions of naira for the hospital.  He has promised and undertaken to equip that theatre to a world-class standard.  He went further to take up the setting up and equipping the Maternity Ward to also world-class standard.  Recently, he brought in about twenty-five special beds for the Maternity ward. The oxygen piping from the theatre to the Maternity ward undertaken by him at a very whooping cost of money is about to commence.  He has appealed to us that this Maternity ward be named after their mother on completion, and we have granted such request.  Our prayer is that other members of this Diocese will see the need to partner with us in these projects by imbibing the think-home philosophy.  Our greatest joy and challenge in what the Nzewis are doing is that they do these things without any noise, and any demand of undue attention and publicity.  May God reward them accordingly in Jesus Christ Name.

Let me appreciate His Excellency, Chief Sir Peter Obi [CON] for a donation of one million naira [N1m] in support of the roofing of the School of Nursing complex in January this year.  We thank Chief Ernest Ndukwe for giving the sum of one million naira [N1m] to support the purchase of some equipment for the School of Nursing.

The School of Nursing and the Hospital complex need a Chapel inside that premises.  There is also this demand of a 25-seater Coaster Bus, and a utility Car for the students, and principal respectively. We thank the Chairman of School of Nursing Steering Committee, Matron Esther Maduka, and her committee members for the good work they are doing, and their sacrifices.  The chairman of the Hospital Management Board, Sir Dr. Eddy Agbasimelo needs our special appreciation.  Revd. Isaiah Chukwubuikem who is the Hospital Administrator is doing no mean job in keeping the hospital afloat and functional.  The Medical Superintendent, Dr. Ageji Innocent deserves our special commendation.  We congratulate him also on his wedding which took place on 11th May, 2015.

 

V.        SURE ANCHOR MICRO FINANCE BANK:

In order to diversify the economic base of the Church, and also alleviate the sufferings of people living in Amichi and environs due to the absence of any bank especially Micro Finance Bank, the Diocese decided to embark on the establishment of a Micro Finance Bank.  A Steering Committee headed by Dr. Sir U.C. Nzewi was set up.  The Committee has vigorously and relentlessly pursued this project to the extent that we are on the last stage of take-off.  The name of the bank as shown above has been approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission.  The initial mandatory Capital deposit of twenty million naira has been paid to Central Bank of Nigeria.  The CBN has also written to us granting us Approval In Principle [AIP] to establish the said Bank.  Board Directors of the Banks has been appointed, and also screened and approved by CBN.  The take off location of the Bank has been secured, and our consultant from CBN has inspected the site and given his nod for it.  Renovation work on the site has started with the initial pay of a one year rent to the owners of the property. The final registration of the Bank with Corporate Affairs Commission is on going.  By the special Grace of God, the Bank will commence full operation on or before September, 2015.

 

VI.      OTHER PROJECTS:

The eleven plots of land we bought at Obiagu village, Amichi has now been fully surveyed, and fenced with gates installed.  The Fencing work at the proposed Bottle and Sachet Water site at Unubi has also been completed.  Special thanks from us goes to Igwe Unubi, and Unubi Development Union for fulfilling their promise of adding another one plot of land to the ones given to us already for that project.  We also thank them for wisely relocating the Masquerade Cult to another site from the project site. 

The construction of drainage system at our site for Diocesan Retreat Centre at Ekwulumili is almost completed.  This is a very capital intensive drainage to cushion the effect of erosion menace to the residents of that area.

 

VII.     WELFARE/CHARITY:

The Diocese in her bid to preach a wholistic Gospel in this generation is undertaking some welfare and charity packages for her members.  Currently, we have up to fifteen students we are sponsoring their education in Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and Secondary Schools.  We have refrained ourselves from making these names known in this address because we consider such an embarrassment to the beneficiaries.  The full names and records are available with the Accountant of the Diocese.  Furthermore, within the year under review, the Diocese through the Bishop helped five students to gain admission into the University.  We paid medical and hospital bills for some of our members.  The Diocese assisted seven youths to establish small businesses by supporting them with amount ranging from one hundred thousand naira to two hundred and fifty thousand naira each.  The Diocese has supported the Youth Church by buying full Gospel Band and Equipment for them for their programmes and Church services.  The Diocese built and handed over a modern four bedroom bungalow to a family at Obiagu-Amichi.  The house was dedicated on 20th December, 2014 in the company of the Clergy and Diocesan Board members.  The student that made the overall best result in WAEC last year, Miss Obele Nzube was appreciated by the Diocese by presenting to her a brand new Lap Top Computer.

We gave the sum of one million naira [N1m] each last year to three Clergymen to support them in the building of their family house in their home towns.  Even though this exercise is not captured in the Diocesan annual, we feel compelled to continue this act of Charity even in the face of discouraging attitudes and comments of some Clergymen.  We are working for God, and not for men's applause.  The following Clergymen are therefore requested to step up here and now to collect a cheque of one million naira each for their building project.      [a]   Ven. Godwin Okafor

                                    [b]   Ven. Anthony Uchemereole

                                    [c]   Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma.

Bishop's Chief Driver – Mr. Elijah Anyaegbu, and Bishop's Gateman – Mr. Innocent Aneke should also come up for a cheque of five hundred thousand naira each for their own housing projects.  Please this money is meant for nothing else but your house building.  Putting it into another project amounts to unfaithfulness.

 

OUR SPECIAL SORROWS:

In this past one year, some of our members from various Parishes and Archdeaconries went to be with the Lord through death.  We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to such families.  But permit me to mention some special cases of our members who we lost by death.  They are:

[a]      Pharm. Lady Christie Ogum – She was the Chairman, Board of Governors         of Holy Child Convent, Amichi.  A member of the Diocesan Board,     Finance Board, and Bishop's Nominee to the Synod.  She was buried on            22nd January, 2015 at Unubi.

[b]      Barr. Ifeanyichukwu E.C. Alajuluonye – He was the Legal Secretary of the          Diocese.  He was also a member of Board of Governors of Master's      Vessel Seminary, Osumenyi.  He was a Synod delegate and member.  He      was a member of the Diocesan Board, Finance Board, and was     responsible for proper registration of all landed property purchased by             the Diocese.  He was buried on 10th April, 2015.

[c]       Lady Dorathy Ubah –

[d]      Lady Grace Egwuonwu –

[e]      Sir Nwodika - 

Let us rise for one minute silence in honour of these wonderful servants of the Lord.

 

BISHOP'S EXAMINING CHAPLAINS:

We intend to appoint some trusted and experienced Clergymen to be Bishop's examining chaplains. They are:

[i]       Ven. David Nonyelum – Chairman

[ii]      Ven. Chika Mbeyi

[iii]     Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka

[iv]     Ven. Oliver Chigbo

[v]      Ven. Chukwuma Akam

[vi]     Ven.  Henry Amobi.

Their duties and Terms of Reference are:

[a]      To organize interviews for prospective Church Teachers and Catechists,            and make recommendation to the Bishop.

[b]      To organize Refresher Courses, In-service Training, Retreats and Lectures for Church teachers and Catechists.

[c]       Initiate, Co-ordinate and execute programmes for Lay Readers [both       new and old] in terms of trainings, workshops and retreats.

[d]      They are to examine and Recommend to the Bishop for final selection     candidates into Theological Institutions.

The appointment takes immediate effect from today. These and any other assignment the Bishop may deem fit to give to you are your terms of reference.

 

VICARAGE INSPECTION TASK FORCE:

Having observed with utter disgust the state of our vicarages, and attitude of Church workers who live in these houses, we have resolved to set up a Vicarage Inspection Task Force with Lady Ngozi Okeke as Chairman.  Their works include, but not limited to:

[a]      Conducting a periodic check on our vicarages to ascertain the degree of neatness of the house and premises.

[b]      To inspect thoroughly every vicarage two days to the vacation of such    vicarage by any Church worker going on transfer, and make sure that    the Church worker keep the vicarage very clean for the incoming           Church worker.

[c]       To pay unscheduled visits to vicarages to ascertain whether the     compound is habitually clean and decent, or is it inspection cleanness        we have.

[d]      To inspect the state of building structure and furniture owned by the      Church in order to determine their proper handling or otherwise.

[e]      To give periodic report to the Bishop, and where necessary recommend            to the Bishop appropriate action and punishment to be taken on    recalcitrant Church worker.

 

THE NIGERIA NATION:

ANAMBRA STATE:

We hereby commend our able Governor, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano for taking the bull by the horn by confronting the security challenges of Anambra State headlong.  Anambra State is adjudged one of the most secure states in Nigeria.  We also appreciate the governor for different developmental projects he is undertaking in various parts of Anambra State.  Your Excellency, we congratulate you on the just concluded State House of Assembly election in which all APGA candidates won the election.  Let us at this point encourage His Excellency to listen keenly to people's observation and even criticisms so as to be balanced in all your decisions and programmes.  Nobody is a complete repository and reservoir of knowledge of everything.  Again, may it please the governor to always remember the principle of Justice and Equity in his appointments in the state especially now that we are noticing reshuffle in your Cabinet.  Finally, we would like His Excellency as a seasoned technocrat to reconsider the idea of personalizing public institutions and social contracts trust of Governance whereby State-owned vehicles, structures and projects carry the inscription “Willie is Working”.  Sycophants won't let the governor know that this is not in tandem with social contract responsibility whereby one selected or elected person is holding brief on behalf of the rest of the governed through a communal trust and wilful surrendering of authority to the leader.  The better and more appropriate slogan technically and in the spirit of public service should be “Anambra State is Working”. 

Once again, we appeal to our governor not to neglect vibrant partnership with the Church in the execution of some of the state's projects especially in Education, and Health sectors.

 

2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS:

Our hearts as Nigerians should be filled with total gratitude to the Almighty God for proving some prophets of doom, and some Western historical and political Calendarists wrong who have concluded and prophesied that Nigeria will disintegrate beyond reconciliation in 2015 as a result of the general election.  Special thanks and commendation should also go to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President and commander in Chief of Federal Republic of Nigeria for his show of unusual and unpopular statesmanship which is non-existent in African political arena.  If President Jonathan had not conceded defeat to Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari, we would be singing a different song now.  Help me and permit me to hail Dr. Jonathan as the HERO OF PEACE IN AFRICA.  He has lived up to his assertion and confession.  “That his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”  God must bless President Goodluck Jonathan.  His is neither a case of cowardice nor weakness, but that of sacrificial and selfless leadership. 

As we congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, we need to remind them that all Nigerians are enthusiastically watching to benefit from the much orchestrated changes during their electioneering campaigns.  There are more to practical and impactful governance and leadership than overflow of talking, accusations, and derogation.  We are praying for them and our dear country Nigeria.  Political marauders and gladiators are not only still around but well grounded. As you settle down our dear President, focus on your Manifesto and agenda.  We have heard much, we now want to see much positively.  Forget witch hunt, and fight corruption decisively.  The lips approach, and media propaganda in the fight against corruption should be translated into meaningful actions.

I suggest that the fight against corruption can be commenced by publishing what actually are the monthly take homes and allowances of Senators, and members of House of Representatives.  Does our constitution say that Nigerians are not supposed to know what these honourable men and women of Red and Green Chambers take home as salaries and emoluments every month?  Your Excellency, the fight against terrorism, insurgency and militancy which has resulted in senseless shedding of blood of millions of innocent and defenseless Nigerians, should be pursued and executed with outstanding commitment, especially in equipping and motivation the army seriously.

At this juncture, the embarrassing menace of political defection to the ruling party by our politicians has become a gross source of worry and shame to all meaningful political watchers in our dear Country.  The simple message these politicians are passing to us is that we don't have Patriotic, Manifesto-based, National-interest-Driven politicians in our Country.  What we have are stomach-driven, selfish, job-seeking political couriers. It is indeed very shameful and discouraging.  Politics does not at anytime mean winning elections all the time, rather it is all about maintaining and pursuing political manifesto and conviction for the betterment of the society and humanity.  I have finally come to conclude that all Nigerians should now recline to Psalm 121.

 

LEST WE FORGET:

One of the greatest sins and negative traits of man has been the sin of Ingratitude.  Towards the second part of 2014, Nigerians woke up to their chilling shock, and met an unwanted and uninvited visitor and killer called EBOLA in our midst.  It was as if hell was let loose, and the flood gate of death and destruction was thrown open.  The result was fear, anguish, uncertainty, isolation, and dismembered of friendship and comradeship in every quarter including the church.  The situation appeared hopeless, judging from what was happening in Liberia, Senegal, Sierraleone and other neighbouring West African Countries.  The Church, and Christians in Nigeria took up the aggressive weapon of prayer and intercession.  The most embarrassing outcome of the EBOLA scourge to me was the fact that Nigerians learnt to wash hands, and observe very simple hygienic principles for fear of the Virus.  EBOLA has gone, do we still wash hands today?

What God did for us in Nigeria needs not be swept under the carpet.  Nigerians especially Christians need to set aside one Sunday in which to solemnly as in the spirit of worship ask the question of Psalm 116:12, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me [us].

This is pertinent because according to verse 3 of this Psalm, “The pangs of death surrounded us, And the pangs of sheol laid hold of us.  We sound trouble and sorrow”.  Indeed the LORD has delivered us from death.  Let Nigerians not forget to return hilarious praise to God.  Let us say like the Israelites in Exodus 15:1, and 11. 

I will sing unto the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously, The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.  Who is like unto Thee, O LORD, among the gods.  Who is like unto Thee, Glorious in Holiness,  Fearful in Praises, doing wonders.  We owe all thanks, Praise, Honour, Adoration and Reverence to the Almighty God. 

 Let us also appreciate the outgone President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministry of Health, and State Governors for their commitment and outrightness in providing logistics for the war against EBOLA.  EBOLA will never come back to us In Jesus Christ Name.

 

THE THEME OF THE SYNOD:

Last year, our Synod theme was, “Who is on the Lord's side”?  [Exodus 32:26].  Through the Sermons and Bible Study, we were challenged to reconsider our stand with Christ Jesus in the face of contending conflicting issues in the world beckoning for our attention and loyalty in worship.  This year, in this first session of the third Synod of our Diocese, we are led to consider the theme, “I Know your Works … Letters to the Churches in Smyrna; Pergamos; Sardis; and Laodicea”.  [Revelation 2 & 3].

BACKGROUND:

The book of Revelation differs from every other New Testament book.  It contains not only a message for the first century Church to whom it was written, but also to the Church through the ages, particularly those living in the end-times who will see Christ return to earth.  As an unwelcome harbinger of the earthly fate of Christians in almost every era, the reign of Domitian [A.D. 81–96] burst upon the Roman world at the death of his older brother Titus in A.D. 81. Domitian brought to imperial office a capacity for intellectual astuteness, bitterness and conceit.  As the later qualities grew, the cults of Caesar-worship thrived, Jewish communities were likely to suffer, but Christians with an intense evangelistic advocacy of their new faith were the inevitable targets of imperial harassment.  John the beloved disciple and apostle, the brother of James, and the son of Zebedee apparently was the only one of the twelve apostles still alive in AD. 90–96.  The aging apostle recorded in Revelation the hope of the Church and Israel, which Jesus Christ revealed [1:1] to him by an Angel through a series of breath taking visions.  Five times the book of Revelation is autographed by John [1.1; 4; 9; 21:2; 22:8].  Although there has never been unanimity concerning the date of Revelation, the majority of evangelical scholarship follows the affirmation of Irenaeus that the time and occasion for the writing was later portion of Domitian's reign [A.D. 90–96].  Characteristic of Domitian's assault on the embryonic Christian community was the practice of exile and banishment.  John wrote this epistle from exile on Patmos which was a roughly horseshoe-shaped rock-quarry island about six miles wide and ten miles long.

The apostle John, the author of this unique book wrote five books in the New Testament.  Revelation was his last, written just before his death.  The name “Revelation” as a title for the encyclical is derived from the Greek title “Kalupto”, “to veil”, and ‘Apo, “from” – hence, “to remove the veil” or “reveal”.  As the name of the book suggests, it is the revealing of Jesus to the inhabitants of the earth in the final days.  Revelation as a book can be said to be carrying five-fold messages and dimensions.  First, it is a book of Vision.  Second, it is a book of Virtue.  Third, it is a book about God's Verdict.  Fourth, it is a book about Vigour.  Finally, it is a book about Victory.   Revelation vividly portrays the imminent showdown between God and Satan in which God remains the ultimate ruler.

The cyclical epistle was addressed to seven Churches located on a major travel route connecting population centre of Asia Minor.  Dwelling amid the immorality of popular religions, the squalor of slavery with its dehumanizing effects the desperate delusion of the mystery religions, and the persecutions by the Jews and the emperor, the fledgling Christian assemblies of the Seven Asian cities continually stood in jeopardy.  The Revelation provides a message of comfort and a promise of the providential intervention of God in the affairs of men.  Triumphant vision and the promise of the ultimate defeat of evil enabled these early Christians to encounter successfully the challenges that greeted them.

In this book, John combines three types of literature, namely: Apocalyptic, Prophetic, and Epistolary.

 

 

 

HISTORY OF INTERPRETATION:

Because of the rich symbolism of the Apocalypse the interpretive approaches of the Christian community have differed radically.  There are four major interpretive approaches which are:

[a]      The Preterists: 

This view and approach was developed by the Jesuits and is still held by many in the Roman Church, and by some Protestants.     They maintain that all the events of Revelation were fulfilled during the days of either Nero or Domitian.  According to them the book is concerned only with events of the first century and as such it has no message for later generations.

 

[b]      The Historical Or Post-millennialism: 

This group asserts that Revelation is a panorama of Church history from the initiation of the apostolic era to the consummation of the age.  They believe that Christ will return at the end of the millennial age.  This position was espoused by Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and most of the reformers except the Anabaptists.

[c]      The Idealist or Amillenialism:

Their view is that there is no literal millennial reign of Christ on earth.  They posit that the Apocalypse is not to be construed as a representation of actual events, whether past or future.  The book is only a symbol or metaphor to depict the great struggle between good and evil.  This concept was spawned in the Alexandrian school of philosophy and theology by Origen, and is maintained by a host of liberal and some conservative Bible scholars today.  Again, this sect affirms that pagan philosophy and Christian philosophy do not mix.

[d]      The Futuristic or Premillennialism:

This group has the belief that Christ will return to usher in the millennial age.  According to them, beginning with chapter 4, the events described belong to the future age and constitute a marvelous prophecy of God's program for the consummation of the age.  This view has wide acceptance among evangelicals around the world.  Anabaptists of the Reformation era were futurists.  Numerous Church fathers from the initial Christian centuries also were advocates of this view.

CHOICE OF FOUR CHURCHES:

After a very prayerful and copious considerations and analysis of the current situations and attitudes of twenty-first century Church and Christians in general, and our Diocese in particular, we felt led and convinced that critically examining the content of the letters, the lives, and circumstance of four out of the seven Churches in Asia is very apt and instructive to us.  The four Churches we have chosen to look into the messages sent to them are: Smyrna; Pergamos; Sardis; and Laodicea.  We are not going to do an exhaustive exegesis on the letters to the Churches because we strongly believe that our main Synod Speaker, and the Synod Bible Study Facilitator will do justice to that.  Let us be reminded that for all the four Churches, there is one outstanding assertion, made by the Lord and Saviour of the Church, Jesus Christ through the apostle and elder John.  That assertion is, “I KNOW YOUR WORKS”.  What exactly does the Lord Jesus mean when He said to each Church, “I know your works”?   He is simply saying the following:

First, I am fully informed about you and all your activities both overt and covert ones. 

Second, I am well acquainted with all your ways and doings.

Thirdly, I am totally and assuredly familiar with your lifestyles, characters, experiences and circumstances in whatever geographical location you are at anytime.

Fourth, Jesus Christ is saying, I fully recognize and have full facts and knowledge of what you are facing and passing through.

Finally, the Lord of the Church is saying that He has taken full notice of the occurrences around you.  Having defined this all-important and critical assertion which is challenging to all, let us look at the Churches mentioned one after another.

THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA:  The message to the Church is seen in Revelation 2:8 – 11 which reads thus:

            “And to the Angel of the Church in Smyrna write,

             These things say the First and Last, who was dead, and came to life:

            “I Know your works, tribulation, and poverty [but you are rich]; and

            I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not,

            but are synagogues of Satan.  Do not fear any of those things which                       you are about to suffer.  Indeed the devil is about to throw some of                            you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation

            ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

            He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.        

             He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

 

The Church in Smyrna is also called the Persecuted Church.  One of the most famous Christians in the early Church was a famous Bishop called Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna in the early to mid second century who shaped the way the early Church developed throughout the region.  In Smyrna, there was a strong Jewish population which became very powerful too, and out of that Jewish population an early Church had grown.

As we see, there was persecution and suffering in Smyrna and so this description of Jesus speaks into that and brings them comfort.  “These are the words of Him who is the First and Last …”   This is the third time in two short chapters that the Lord Jesus has referred to Himself as the First and Last.  In 1:17, He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last”.  In 1:8, He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”.  For the Smyrneans, who are struggling against gross persecution, and the attendant discouragement emanating from thereof, it is an important description of God for them to hear: that, in their suffering and the uncertainty of their lives, God is the ultimate Power and Authority and He will surely prevail.  God is not impotent rather He is omnipotent.  He is all-powerful.  The Smyrneans should derive great comfort from that.  The Omnipotence of God, His all-powerful nature is proven in the fact that, as He says in verse 8, “(I) died and came back to life again”.  Even death could not hold any power over Him.  In 2:8, He is telling them that no matter what we suffer as a result of the Gospel and our Faith, death has no power, and it has been defeated. 

In verse 9, Jesus said, “I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet  you are still rich”!  The Christians in Smyrna were afflicted; they were suffering, just like the apostle John in chapter 1:9 had said He was their companion in their suffering.  This act of suffering with Christ, and for the Gospel is quite contrary to the dangerous utility Gospel and Prosperity message being advocated for by modern preachers these days.  We not only share in Christ's suffering, but also in His poverty.  In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Apostle Paul writes, “For you know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”.   The suffering that the Church in Smyrna was experiencing came from the hands of the Jewish population living in the city.  “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

Jewish violence against the Church was not untypical.  It was the Jewish authorities that joined hands with the Romans in persecuting Bishop Polycarp to death, and it was they who gathered the wood to burn him at the stake even though he was executed on the Sabbath.  In verse 9, Christ calls them “a synagogue of Satan”.  Satan is using many Church members today to slander both the Church and her leadership in order to perpetuate sin.  In verse 10 He says: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer”.  Actually, this accords with our own experience in the present age and circumstances.  All of us, in one way or another have endured tough times, sometimes periods of intense suffering, and we never knew how long that period will go on for or when it will end.  But we know from the promises of Scripture, and our past experiences of God in our lives that there is an end to every suffering, affliction, slandering, misrepresentation and ungodly gang-ups against us as Christians, and as a Diocese.  There is also a reward waiting for us if we endure with Patience and Faith.  Jesus tells them that they will inherit “The Crown of Life”.  Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:5, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules”.  Jesus concludes this message of encouragement to the Smyrneans, and by extension to all Christians in verse 11: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.  He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death”.

The message to the Church in Smyrna is a beautiful message of hope and consolation, and it is one that gives us real encouragement when we face suffering and misunderstanding in life.  Perhaps we are misunderstood for our faith and stand on Bible principles and practices which we uphold.  Perhaps our faith causes us to make life choices that result in economic struggle.  Christ is always with us and will see us through.

 

THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS:

The letter to this Church is the third of the seven letters.  They are known as the compromising Church.  Pergamos does not exist any longer. It was one of the most loyal cities to the Roman Empire.  They had been ruled by a family called the Attalids who were very intelligent and generous to the Pergamum people.  There was an incredible Altar in Pergamum, which can now be seen in Pergamum Museum in Berlin which was dedicated to the god Zeus.  In Pergamum, there was a strong Imperial Cult were each Roman citizen was required to stand regularly before a statue of the Emperor and offer  incense to the statue whilst saying, “Caesar is Lord”!

Verse 12: “To the Angel of the Church in Pergamum write: “These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword”.  So this letter to the Christians in Pergamum begins with a claim to authority and power which, given the cultural situation of the city with its many temples and shrines and false gods, is actually a very important claim.  So God has the sword and He is coming in judgment to Pergamum.  But why?  What was the problem in the Church?

Verse 13: “I know where you live – Where Satan has his throne”.  “I know where you live” is an important and interesting phrase because the word for “Live” here is not just about a place they inhabit.  It is stressing the fact they are settled there.  It is an active verb, which suggests that the Christians are settled down and quite happy to go about their everyday business in the place where Satan lives. Jesus was stressing their passivity in the face of all that is wrong in the place they live and worship, that they have become thoroughly compromised.  This is just a pictorial representation of the present day Church and Christians where compromise has been an acceptable lifestyle.  Pergamos was the site of the famous temple of Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing.  The city was full of idolatry.

It is worthy of note that a remnant of Christians in Pergamum Church had tried very hard to remain pure and how hard it must have been for them in that environment.  In verse 13, Jesus speaks to the faithful few and says: “Yet you remain true to my name.  You did not deny or renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness who was put to death in your city-where Satan dwells”.  We don't know anything about Antipas but early Church records suggest he was roasted alive on a spit.  The name Antipas in Greek actually means “against all”.  Antipas was the martyr who stood against everything that was not the truth of the Christian faith.  The present day Church needs many Antipases now that so many idolatrous temples have been brought into the Church.  Antipas was a Christian who was prepared to stand up for what he believed not minding the consequences, and even the opinion of the multitude.  It is most likely that Antipas was a Christian who refused to declare “Caesar is Lord”.  Faithful Christians in the city were not bowed under by the threat of death themselves and they had remained true to the name of Christ and did not renounce their faith.  The NIV Bible translates the verse this way, “You remain true to my name”, but in the Greek, it says, “You grasp my name” or “You cling to my name”.  This means that in all the problems they face, with all the false gods around them and the persecution they encounter, they still cling on to God and they won't let go of Him, no matter what.  The yawning question to us in this Synod is: “Do we still have Antipas who will stand for Christ no matter the threat and humiliation”?  If yes, where are they?  Compromise and conformity have become the greatest ravaging chronic diseases molesting and mortifying the twenty-first century Church, and Christians.

After this commendation and encouragement, their major problems were noted thus in verse 14: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you … “You have people among you who hold to the teaching of  Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.  Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans”.  

First of all, what was Balaam's teaching to Balak?  The doctrine of Balaam links a philosophy which was rampant in the Church at Pergamos with one of the most shameful incidents in the history of Israel recorded in Numbers 22; 23; and 31:15 & 16 in which Balaam counselled Balak to employ Moabite women to seduce the men of Israel which culminated in disaster for God's people.  A sinister doctrine of sensuality and antinomianism [opposition to all law] was being propagated and tolerated at Pergamos.   This is the replica of modern liberalism being preached and propagated among Christians by the new breed Pentecostal propagandists.  While some believers were holding to the teaching of Christ, others were holding to the teaching of Balaam.  The major aim of Balaam's teaching was to create stumbling-blocks for the people of God so they would trip over and fall away from the faith.  Through their immoral sexual acts with the Moabite women, the men of Israel followed them to worship idols.

Just as Adam and Eve were seduced away from obedience to the word of God, so the teaching of Balaam was seducing Christians in Pergamum away from obedience.  Have Christians in our generation and Church members not been seduced through the teaching that idolatry and culture are the same time?  The well-packaged lectures and teachings on neo-paganism, post-modernism lifestyle and secular humanism are very decent subtle ways that the teaching of Balaam has resurfaced and gained ground in our Church today. 

“So, there is a temple to Zeus on the hill: that is not bad.  Is it?  So, there is a temple of Dionysius: so drunkenness is not bad at all after all.  So there is the healing sanctuary of Asclepius:  It cannot do any harm”.  Gentle seduction from the truth of Christ was Satan's mythology in Pergamum.  Likewise in our time, a little syncretism, emotionalism in worship, and worldliness in dress code and music are tolerated to make the people feel good, and retain the multitude.

Who were the Nicoliatans, and what was their teaching as recorded in verse 15?  The Nicolaitans were a Christian sect, who was persuading the Church in Pergamum to compromise their faith.  The Nicolaitans were teaching them to play soft and fluctuating Christianity.  They were asking them to play along with idolatry and immorality-using the Jesus' axiom – “Give to God what is God's and give to Caesar what is Caesar's” in a very negative and dangerous manner.

What Christ is addressing in our text is that there are people in our midst in the Church, and even on the pulpits who are causing others to stumble in their faith.   Christian Liberty is totally different from and opposed to Christian Liberalism.  So the question is not “Is it okay for a Christian to drink alcohol”?  Rather, the question should be, “If a weaker brother or sister sees me drinking alcohol, will it cause him to stumble in his/her faith”?  As Christians, we have a community responsibility on how we behave.  It is not all about you and God, or me and God:  It is about us and God.  Do not become a stumbling block to others.  When Jesus said in verse 16: “Repent therefore, otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”.   Those who stand in the way of the spiritual growth of the Church and others, those who constitute stumbling-block, will be fought against, judged and condemned by Christ through His words.  The truth is that God through Christ Jesus is already fighting against many people in the Church.  In Pergamum, faithful Christians were finding it very hard to buy food in the market because almost every food available for sale in the market has been offered to idols.  True Christianity has never been without great price of persecution, suffering and deprivation in all ages.  In verse 17 we also read, “To him who overcomes … I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it”.  In those days, a stone was given by jurors to someone at the end of their trial.  If they were handed a black stone, they were guilty; and if they were handed a white stone, they had been declared innocent.  So it could be that this is a reference to the fact that if we remain faithful to Christ, we are declared innocent of our sins and are set free by Him.  The second meaning of giving white stone is that a stone was sometimes used as a sort of admission ticket to a public festival or royal assembly.  So a white stone, the symbol of purity may be given to us as a symbol of our invitation to the King's Banquet in heaven.  The name Pergamum means “Thoroughly married”.  So the congregation at Pergamum had become compromised, and so was married to their false ideas, doctrines, and false practices.  The question we are left with is simply this:  Who are we married to? Are we married to false ideas and compromised worship?  Or are we married to Christ – the bride of Christ.   ‘We are Pergamum' – we are thoroughly married.  But let us make sure that we are married to the right God.

 

THE CHURCH IN SARDIS:  Revelation 3:1 – 6.

Sardis which is the modern Sart, was the wealthy seat of Lydian government where Croestus reigned as monarch, and Thales the first Greek philosopher was a citizen.  Recent archaeology suggests that Sardis had perhaps the most elaborate Synagogue in the Western diaspora at the time.  Sardis was a key industrial location; the dye industry and manufacture of wool lay at the heart of its economy and it was also renowned for carpet making.  With the city streets flowing with gold and the dye and the wool and the carpets and the strong fortifications, it seems that Sardis stood rich, proud and self-sufficient.  They were too self-confident. 

The message to the Church –

Verse 1: “To the Angel of the Church in Sardis write:  These are the words                               of Him who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars”. 

This description of one who holds the seven spirits of God is a reference to the Holy Spirit.  It indicates the truth that the Holy Spirit dwells in each and every Church in equal measure. The seven stars are the Angels of the Churches; the leaders of the Churches, or the messengers.  Seven as we know is a symbol of completeness.  Hear the sharp and strong message, “I know your deeds”, you have a name or reputation that you are alive, but you are dead”.  This message is such a sharp condemnation that cuts to the very core of their being.  Sardis was a Church that was highly regarded throughout Asia Minor.  It was probably a bustling Church, full of activities.  But by what Jesus Christ is saying to the Church, we infer that the reputation did not reflect the real truth of the spiritual state of the Church.  Activity and magnificent building structures or edifice without a corresponding holy and righteous living do not in anyway amount to true spirituality.  The Church in Sardis was busy and active but they were not dependent on the Holy Spirit in their ministry.  The people in the Church were not filled with the Holy Spirit, rather they relied on past glories.

Our Churches today are not quite different.  We are full of activity.  We erect and worship in very beautiful edifices.  We have the most sophisticated electronic gadgets and musical instruments, but regrettably, many Churches, her leaders and Christians are deficient in the Holy Spirit, and true and practical Christian living in our homes, institutions, businesses, and offices.  A Church or Christian that relies on its past glory and does not operate in the power of the Holy Spirit can look alive and bustling and active for a while, maybe quite a long time but it is dying, it is emptying itself with each dying gasp.  The Church in Sardis had become a shrine to the good old days and the Christians were still living in Memory Lane.  It is a very dangerous thing for a Church or a Christian to just go through the motions, and to become a museum to the past.  God wants the Church to be a lively, vibrant community reliant on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, pursuing God in the Now, and not God in the Then.  Any Church or Christian that is not moving in the power of the Holy Spirit is dead.  Are you alive or dead?

And then comes the stern warning in verse 2:

“Be watchful, and strengthen things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  The phrase “Be watchful” is in the present tense, indicating a continuous action.  Their spiritual complacency according to the Lord Jesus Christ will cost them spiritually.  Many of us are without doubt in the same spiritual complacency like the Church in Sardis.  Even at this late stage of their spiritual comatose, they are not fully dead.  In the Grace of God, there is a chance for them to repent and get back on track.  Spiritual complacency does not just set in suddenly.  It occurs over a period of time, and in the end the state of complacency feels so normal that we don't recognize it as complacency any more.  We are battling with so many abnormal and idolatrous practices in our Church today because over a period of years, the Church become so complacent that these practices settled down as normal things for the Church, and Christians.  Spiritual complacency is one of diseases that have also successfully attacked the Church and Christians.  It is complacency that made the Church and Christians to move from “What does the Scripture say”,  to “What is wrong with that”?  It is spiritual complacency that brought the present day Church to “Let us do it like others”; “Why must our own be different”? 

What is Christ's judgment on the Church at Sardis?  “I have not found your deeds complete, perfect or acceptable in the sight of God …”  Let us point out here that the Church in Sardis was not being persecuted by the Jews;  It was not facing economic hardship at the hands of the Romans; it was not struggling against false teachers.  There was nothing to trouble them at all because they had become so complacent and easy going and apathetic that they had no enemies.  Anytime and anywhere the Church, and Christians cease to have enemies as a result of her faith, Gospel, or lifestyle, that Church or Christian is out-rightly dead and is as good as non-existent.  The Church in Sardis achieved “Peace” in the graveyard.  Jesus went on with a recommended course of action in verse 3: “Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent”.  The Lord Jesus was reminding them of the passion they had when they first received the Gospel from the first believers.  The Church in Sardis like the Anglican Church was nurtured in the faith with passion and were called on to see the need to hold on to the reality of that history and make it their present experience by living out the spirit-filled passion of those who brought  the Gospel to them.  They were warned that if they fail to wake up, the Lord will come up on them like a thief.  This means that whatever happens, God's judgment is coming on all of us.  The joy of the letter to Sardis is that in the midst of this terrible and seemingly hopeless spiritual state of the Church, there were a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes according to verses 4 – 6.  Those few names in that Church whose clothes were clean are the ones whose worship is acceptable to God.  Is your worship and Christianity acceptable to God?  Finally, Jesus says to the Church, “He who overcomes will be dressed in white.  I will not blot out his name from the Book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his Angels”.

There is God's book of life.  Is your name in that book?  There is only one way to enroll, and that is by consciously and sincerely confessing your sins, and surrender your life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, and continue on daily basis  to live your life to please Him at all times, and in all places.  Let us beware of passivity, self-satisfaction, and spiritual complacency.  The Church is not a museum, but a mission on earth.  He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the Churches.

 

THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA – Revelation 3:14 – 22.

This was the last Church in Asia Minor which Jesus the Christ sent a message to through the apostle John.  It is called the Lukewarm Church.  When the town was built originally, it was known as Diospolis, which means “City of Zeus”.  Then it became ‘Rhodas' until eventually, it was renamed Laodicea in honour of the wife of Antiochus II, who was called Laodice in 255 BC.  It was a very prosperous town well situated for trade and became one of the most influential economic centres in Asia Minor.  There was a flourishing wool trade there and they produced a particular type of black wool for clothing and the money rolled in Laodicea was well-advanced in cultural centre.  There was a large science school in Laodicea and it was famous for producing an ointment for the eyes to bring healing to bad eyesight.  Laodicea was very rich and influential.  It has such a strong banking centre that they minted their own coins in the city.  It also had a strong Church flourishing there.  Paul mentioned it in his epistle to the Colossians in Colossians 4:15–16.  The Message To the Church starts in verse 14 thus: “These are words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God”.   Jesus presents Himself to the Laodiceans as the guarantee of the truth of God into their situation.  In order words, He knows them inside out, and so does not depend on second hand report before He could assess them accurately.  In verse 15, we read the words, “I know your works”.  These words have sometimes and occasions been spoken in compassion, and sometimes they have been spoken in anger.  “You are neither cold nor hot” is a very dangerous state of any Church or Christian.  The Laodiceans did not reject the Gospel, but they did not embrace it with passion, commitment and conviction.  They were not doing anything immoral but they did not have any zeal for God or the things of God either.  They did not reject Jesus, but they seemed not to embrace Him.  They were neutral, lukewarm, indifferent, and unconcerned.  The Laodiceans were very acquainted with the language of the message to them by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is because of the nature of characteristics of some rivers around them.  The waters in the rivers and springs of Colossae, where their sister Church was, ran pure and icy cold.  The waters in the rivers and springs of the Hierapolis, geographically nearby, ran boiling hot like geezers.  But the rivers and springs from Laodicea, Asopus and Caprus, were lukewarm and tepid and full of lime scale.  It was therefore a familiar though terrible comparison to draw their attention to the nature of their Christian faith using the rivers around them.

Jesus said to them, “I wish you were either cold or hot”.  Jesus by this statement would be in dialogue of conversion with an honest atheist, than have a lukewarm Christian.  A lukewarm Christian is disparagingly useless for Christ.  In the fight of faith, there is no room for indecision, neutrality, or sitting on the fence.  It is either you are in or you are out.  Lukewarmness irritates and infuriates God.  A lukewarm Church or Christian is a liability to Christ Jesus.  A lukewarm Christian is an enemy of the Church.  He or she is a perpetual saboteur in the affairs of the Church.  A lukewarm Church is not better than a cemetery in a locality. A lukewarm Christian is spiritual leukemia in the life of the Church.  Lukewarmness is not only acceptable to Jesus Christ, but also abhorable. A lukewarm Christian is a mockery to Christ and His Church.  It is as a result of this absurdity of lukewarness that the Lord of the Church said in verse 16, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth”.  This suggests that lukewarmness makes Lord Jesus literally, sick to His stomach, and He will throw up at the thought of a lukewarm Christian.  A lukewarm Christian is therefore a nuisance to Christ Jesus. 

By saying, “I am about to vomit you out of my mouth” means that there is still time for us to repent and change from our lukewarmness.  Jesus contrasts their faith with the prosperity of the city economically.  In verse 17, He reminds them, “…You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”.  They thought that because of their economic buoyancy and prosperity they had it all, but, in reality, they had nothing by God's assessment and parameter, which o