2013 BISHOP'S ADDRESS

 

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS PRESENTED TO THE

 SECOND SESSION OF SECOND SYNOD OF THE

DIOCESE OF AMICHI [ANGLICAN COMMUNION]

ON SATURDAY 8TH JUNE, 2013.

May I humbly and gladly begin this address by saying, Praise to God from whom all blessings flow. Actually God has been our Ebenezer and fortress throughout this Synod year.  There is no greater testimony than seeing all of us seated here this morning hale and hearty to listen to and be part of this presentation of this Address to this distinguished and august congregation and audience.  Let me at this point honorably welcome His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, CON the executive Governor of our dear state Anambra; and the members of the state Executive Council with him.  I also welcome His Grace, The Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi, the Archbishop of the Province of the Niger, and The Bishop of Aguata Diocese; all Archbishops, and Bishops here present; All the respected Royal Fathers; The Chancellor of the Diocese – Hon Justice G.C. Anulude,  The Registrar, Lady Barr. Amaka Udogu; The President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild – Dame Nkem Ikeakor who is my own wife eventually.  We welcome in the same manner the President of the Diocesan Council of Knights – Dr. Sir Edwin Agbasimelo, all Knights and Ladies here present; The Archdeacons and other Clergymen and their wives, the Bishop's Nominees, Synod delegates, our special guests and invitees; the gentlemen of the Press, and indeed everyone to this Second Session of the Second Synod of our Diocese holding here at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Umudim-Amichi.  Indeed, it is another joyful gathering of the people of God to both appreciate and thank God, and also to take stock of our activities and functionalities for this last one year.  Let me pointedly thank the Almighty and Gracious God for granting all of us both good health, and travelling mercies to be present physically here today.  To Him alone be all Glory, Praise, Honour, Dominion and Worship forever through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

OUR RESOURCE PERSONS:

By the special Grace of God, we have invited some Servants of God to minister to us through the Word of God in various directions and dimensions so as to fully benefit from the theme of this year's Synod and internalize it adequately.

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A.        GUEST PREACHER:

Our guest Preacher for this Synod is none other person than Ven. Ndubuisi Obi.  He was born on December 17, 1965 to Revd. Canon Abel Okwuchukwu and Mrs. Jane Uzoma Obi.  He attended Urban Primary and Central School in Nsukka, and Ezechima Primary School, Onitsha from where he proceeded to DMGS, Onitsha.  Ven. Ndubuisi ventured into business and spent seventeen years as a businessman in Onitsha. He is a seasoned child of God. He consciously gave his life to Christ during this period and has occupied several leadership positions in the church.  He has been the Chairman of Choir in St. Mark's Anglican Church, Omagba-Onitsha.  He was at other times in that church, EFAC leader, A.Y.F leader, and Peoples warden.  It was when he was serving as Assistant Zonal Co-ordinator of EFAC, Onitsha Zone that The Rt. Revd. Ken Sandy Okeke, immediate retired Bishop On the Niger sent him to St. Paul's University College, Awka, for Ordination Training.  He was the Students' Union Government [SUG] President for 2002/2003 session.

Ven. Ndubuisi Obi was made a Deacon in December 2003, and ordained a Priest in 2004.  He was preferred a Canon in December 2010, and in December, 2011 His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. Owen C. Nwokolo preferred him an Archdeacon.  He is the pioneer Archdeacon of Ascension Archdeaconry Isiafor.  He is happily married to Mrs. Ukamaka Obi and the Union is blessed with four children.  He is currently the Chairman of the Directorate for Missions and Evangelism of the Diocese On the Niger.

We welcome him heartily and thank God for what He has used him to do in our lives through the Word of God these few days.

B.        OUR BIBLE STUDY FACILITATOR:

He is The Ven. Azubuike Mbadiwe Innocent Ugoha.  He was made a deacon in1996 by the late Bishop of Niger Delta Diocese, The Rt. Revd. Y.A. Fubara. He was ordained a Priest by the Rt. Revd. Samuel Onyeukwu Elenwo in the Niger Delta-    North Diocese.  He was preferred and collated Canon, and Archdeacon in 1999 and 2003 respectively.  He is currently serving in Evo Diocese which was recently created from Niger Delta North Diocese.  Ven. Azubuike Ugoha who was born on 15th June, 1967 is an astute Evangelical scholar cum theologian.  He attended Trinity Theological College, Umuahia where he graduated with Distinction in Religious studies.  He also attended Abia State University, Uturu where he obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies/Education. 

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He is doing his Master's degree programme in Religious Studies with the University of Calabar in Cross River State. He is a seasoned Evangelical/Charismatic Preacher and Teacher of God's Word which has taken him to some countries outside Nigeria.  He is also a Conference and Seminar Speaker as well as Industrial Evangelist which has made him to establish and plant several fellowships in various industries, Banks, Markets, Supermarkets, security companies and motor parks.  Ven. Azubuike Ugoha has held various leadership positions such as: The President, Scripture Union Nigeria, Trinity College, Umuahia; Secretary of Anglican Youth Fellowship [AYF]; and Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion [EFAC].  He is a known Church planter everywhere he goes.  He is the initiator of the popular “GOD OF HANNAH” program in Portharcourt.  He is at the moment the coordinator of Hope for De World International Foundation, Portharcourt.  Ven. Ugoha is married to Pretty Princess Precious Ugoha.  The marriage is blessed with three children namely: Testimony; Nobleman; and Majesty.  His home Diocese is Ideato.  We heartily welcome you to our Diocese in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

C.        SIR DONALD  .I. UDOGU  [SAN]: 

Sir Donald Udogu is celebrated yet humane legal luminary with the status of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.  He is one of the dependable Knights and Church elder statesman whose sincere and wise counsels have helped us in no small measure.  He is one of our own from St. James' Anglican Church, Azigbo in this Diocese.  Sir Barr. Donald Udogu is the Chancellor of the Diocese of Aba.  He worked with Bishop Iwuagwu; Archbishop E.U. Ezeoke, and currently Rt. Revd. Christian Ugwuzor. Writing about him will keep us here for hours.  You are welcome Sir.

THE VENUE OF THE SYNOD:  A BRIEF HISTORY.

St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Amichi which is now The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi was planted in 1911 and remained the only Anglican Church in Amichi town.  In 1969, the idea of planting and establishing more Anglican Churches in Amichi was nurtured and suggested by Revd. R.C.O. Ukadike who was the then Superintendent of St. Andrew's District, Amichi.  He grouped Umudim village and Ebenator village into one unit because of proximity for effective grassroot Evangelism and inaugurated Ogbe Umudim the same year at Umudim village hall.  He appointed a committee of six to organize and run the village Church extension.  The members of the Committee were:

           

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            Mr. D.C. Okonkwo                                    -           Chairman

            Mr. Boniface Ezikenwadilue       -           Vice Chairman

            Mr. Japhet Anyaegbu                   -           Secretary

            Mr. Patrick Anyaegbu                   -           Assistant Secretary

            Mr. Gaius Anyaegbu                     -           Treasurer

            Mr. Cyril Umechiedo                     -           Financial Secretary.

During the civil war era of 1968 – 1970, schools closed and men went into hiding for fear of being conscripted into the Army.  But many strong-willed faithfuls baptized at St. Andrew's Anglican Church still preached and conducted services at the centres including Umudim hall centre.  Those early faithfuls who used village squares, personal houses [Obi squares] and halls to conduct Sunday services and preach sermons include:

1.           Abraham Okafor Aguzie              -           Ebenator

2.           Peter Ezike                                       -           Ebenator

3.           Jeremiah Atuenyi                           -           Umudim

4.           Johnson Nnukwu                           -           Umudim

5.           Paul Uzoegbelu                               -           Ebenator

6.           Gibson Ezikenwine                                    -           Umudim

7.           James  Okafor                                 -           Ebenator

8.           Thomas  Akunne                            -           Umudim

9.           Nathan Maduka [Catechist]        -           Ebenator

10.                        B.O. Atuchukwu                             -           Umudim

11.                        D.C. Okonkwo                                -                 

12.                        Wilfred Ezikeilechukwu                -                 

13.                        Michael Anyaegu                           -                 

14.                        Gideon Okafor                                -           Ebenator

15.                        Isaac  Amaechi                                -           Umudim

16.                        Mrs. Hannah  Amaechi                 -                

17.                         Mrs. Rebecca Ezikenwinne         -                

18.                        Mrs. Agnes  Uzoeghelu                 -           Ebenator

19.                        Naboth  Ezike                                  -                

20.                        David  Olisa                                      -           Umudim

21.                        Mrs. Mabel Ezikeilechukwu        -                

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22.                        Ernest  Ezike                                                -           Umudim             

23.                        Gilbert Anyaegbu                           -                

24.                        Edmund Umeobi                            -           Ebenator.    

These early faithfuls who weathered the storm of sacrificial evangelism are all now of Blessed memory.

After the Civil war in 1970, the six man committee appointed in 1968 strived hard to organize Umudim Anglicans. The Umudim village hall was used for morning prayers and later served as children's worship centre on Sundays.  Mrs. Mabel Ezikeilechukwu who was a lay reader was appointed by the Superintendent to conduct morning prayers.  Mr. Samuel Ogbuonye was appointed a local helper.  The Umudim hall served the dual purposes of housing “The Ntakara” school extension of St. Andrew's Central School, Amichi, and a place of worship for children and the elderly of St. Andrew's Church from Umudim.

MOVE FOR ACTUAL CHURCH PLANTING:

In 1982, the Vicar of St. Andrew's Church District, Ven. G.A.C. Nwangwu organized and established feeder Churches in Amichi.  He and the parochial Church committee directed Umudim and  Ebenator villages to provide a parcel or parcels of land for the purpose of erecting a Church building.  The under-mentioned people were saddled with the responsibility of acquiring the land, and then to report to the P.C.C.  They include:

            Chief  B.O.  Atuchukwu

            Chief  D.C.  Okonkwo

            Mr. Alexander Ogbuonye

            Mr. Naboth  Ezike

            Mr. Boniface  Ezike

            Mr. Edmund  Umeobi

The process of acquiring the land was gradual and very peaceful.  Most of the lands acquired were through donations by individuals, while some were purchased.  This location housing St. Peter's Church, Amichi today was acquired from 1983 to 2004 thus:

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            Mr. Stephen Ezeani                       -           Donation

            Mr. Paul Ekeneme Okonkwo      -                

            Mr. Gibson Ezike & family           -                

            Mr.  Amos  Ijezie                            -                

            Uhuego  Family                               -                

            Mr. Eugene Ezikenwajionye       -                

            Chief B.O. Atuchukwu                  -                

Olisa Anumba family sold their portion of land for two million naira only [N2m] in 2004, though they gave a portion as donation to the Church.  Ven. G.A.C. Nwangwu laid the foundation of the Church building.  In 1985, the first Building/Works Committee was constituted with Mr. Boniface Ezike as Chairman.  The Committee completed the Church building in 1991.  On 8th April, 1990, the Vicar Canon L.N. Enemuo conducted the first Holy Communion service in St. Peter's Church, Amichi.  On 29th July, 1990, Canon L.N. Enemuo conducted the first Baptism in the Church.  In September, 1991, the first Church-Teacher in the person of Mr. Emeka Olisaji was posted to St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi.

The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Church was performed by the Rt. Revd. Dr. J.A. Onyemelukwe, the then Bishop On the Niger on 6th April, 1994.  The first Mothering Sunday was celebrated in this Church on 29th March, 1992.  Mrs. Angelina Anyaegbu [now late] who was a Lay Reader conducted the service while the Church-Teacher, Mr. Emeka Olisaji preached the Sermon.  The first A.C.M. Sunday was observed on 31st May, 1992.  The first Wedding was conducted for Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Akunne on 29th November, 1992 by Ven. L.N. Enemuo.  The first A.Y.F. Sunday was observed on 14th June, 1992.  The first Fathers' Sunday celebration was done in St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi on 28th June, 1992, and Mr. B.C. Aniagbaoso conducted the service while the Church-Teacher preached the sermon.

The Pioneer Parochial Church Committee was elected and inaugurated in 1991.  The members of this first P.C.C. were:

            Mr. Emeka Olisaji [now Revd.]   -           Church Teacher/chairman

            Chief Benjamin .O. Atuchukwu  -           Member

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            Chief  Daniel  C. Okonkwo           -           member

            Mr. Gibson Ezikenwine                -           Member

            Mr. H. A.  Ezike                               -           Treasurer

            Mr. Cyril Umechiedo                     -           Pastor's warden

            Mr. Francis Nwagu                                    -           Peoples' warden

            Mr. Daniel  Onuchukwu               -           Member

            Mr. Simeon  Amaechi                   -                

            Mrs. Mabel Ezikeilechukwu        -           Secretary

            Mrs. Angelina Anyaegbu              -           Member

            Mrs. Elizabeth Azubuike              -                

            Mr. John  Ijezie                               -                

The first Clergyman, Revd. Ernest .C. Ezumezu [now Ven.] was posted to St. Peter's Church, Umudim-Amichi  in June, 1998.  His tenure recorded more converts, and also awakened weak and lapsing members.  He commenced and completed the Vicarage.  On September 30, 2000, St. Peter's Church was granted a Parish status. 

St. Peter's Church Women General Meeting deserves special commendation and recognition.  They built through their direct sponsorship, the Church Multi-purpose Hall under the Chairpersonship of Mrs. Felicia Ezikenwabulue.  During the tenure of Lady Nkiru Atuchukwu as Chairperson, the women also did the fencing of the Church compound during the time of Revd. Prosper Amah [now Ven.].  She also led the women to purchase the Church bus during the time of Ven. Dr. Johnson Maduka.

THE NEW/PRESENT CHURCH BUILDING:

The motion for the erection of a new and befitting Church building was moved by Sir Anselem .U. Ezike on 26th August, 2001 during his address to St. Peter's Men's General Meeting after his election as the Chairman.  The motion was unanimously carried, supported and accepted.  On 26th August, 2007, the New Church Building Committee was inaugurated.  On 31st August, 2008, during the celebration of Great St. Peter's Day, the first launching for the construction of a New Church building was held.  A total sum of seven million naira only [N7m] was realized to the Glory of God

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and surprise of many.  Total cash realized on that day was two million, three hundred thousand naira [N2.3m], while four million, seven hundred thousand naira [N4.7m] was in pledge which was later redeemed fully.  The project took off on 8th December, 2008.  The building was set up and started by Ven. Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Esther Maduka.

The foundation stone of this Church building was laid by His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. Ephraim .O. Ikeakor on 30th December, 2011 during the tenure of the current Vicar, Ven. Augustine Ojukwu.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH AS ARCHDEACONRY HEADQUARTERS.

During the first session of the first Synod of the Diocese of Amichi held at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi from 9th to 12th June, 2009, His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor in the bid to restructure the Diocese for effective and grassroot Evangelism created a total of eight Archdeaconries.  One of such Archdeaconries is Amichi-West Archdeaconry with St. Peter's Church, Amichi as the Archdeaconry headquarter.  The Archdeaconry was inaugurated on 26th June, 2011, and Ven. Dr. Johnson Maduka was the pioneer Archdeacon.

CHRONOLOGY OF CHURCH-WORKERS.

S/N

NAME OF CHURCH WORKER

TOWN

TENURE

1.

Mr. Emeka Olisaji  C/T [now Revd.]

Oba

1991 – 1994

2.

Mr. Solomon Onwumere C/T [now Revd.]

Ugbene

1995 – 1997

3.

Revd. E.C. Ezumezu [now Ven.]

Abatete

1998 – 2000

4.

Mr. Paulinus Ndukwu C/T [now Revd.]

Amorka

2000 – 2002

5.

Revd. Wilson Aralu

Nnewichi

2001 – 2002

6.

Revd. Prosper Amah [now Ven.]

Akaboezem,

Nnewi

2003 – 2006

7.

Revd. Patrick Odinanwa

Isseke

2007 – 2008

8.

Revd. Canon Dr. J.O. Maduka [now Ven.]

Awkuzu

2008 – 2011

9.

Revd. Chukwuma Akam Curate [now Ven.]

Utuh

2009

10.

Revd. Silas Odimegwu Curate [now Canon]

Ihiala

2010

11.

Ven. Augustine Ojukwu

Oba

2011 – date

12.

Revd. Canon F.K.O. Chukwudozie [Curate]

Okija

2012 – date

13.

Mr. Chibuzor Ezenwa [C/T]

Uga

2012 - date

 

St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi is blessed with three indigenous Priests.

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They are:      [i]        Ven. Chukwuemeka Ezike [Rtd.] -         Awka Diocese

                        [ii]       Revd. Ifeanyichukwu Aniagbaso             -         Niger Delta North Diocese                       [iii]      Revd. Akachukwu Udebu                          -        

In this wonderful Church edifice where this Synod is holding today, so many men and families have made sacrificial commitments to bring it to this level.  Such men as Sir Anselem U. Ezike who is the current Chairman of the Building Committee, and other few members who always willingly constitute themselves into a Task Force during emergencies orchestrated by lack of fund and materials such as Sir Joe Atuchukwu, Mr. Ik. Okafor, Sir Joe Umechiedo, Hon. B.C. Aniagbaso, Chief Jonathan Ekeneme, Bro. Arinze Atuchukwu, Sir Dr. A.B. Atuchukwu and Sir Arc. Okey Anyaegbu.  Chief Dr. Chidi Anyaegbu MFR, MD/CEO, CHISCO Group of Companies – Eze Dim of Umudim deserves special mention and appreciation for coming to our rescue when it mattered most to see that this Church building is brought to the level and state we are seeing it today.  May God richly bless them all.

NEWS AND EVENTS FROM CHURCH OF NIGERIA.

RETIREMENTS AND ELECTION OF NEW BISHOPS AND ARCHBISHOPS:

To the Glory of God, the following Bishops and their wives retired healthily from active Church service.  They are:

i.                    The Rt. Revd. Samuel C. Chukwuka                - Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Diocese.

ii.                  Rt. Revd. Dr. Peter A. Adebiyi              -  Lagos West Diocese.

iii.                The Rt. Revd. Prof. Emmanuel Iheagwam            -  Egbu Diocese

iv.               The Rt. Revd. Michael Ipinnoye           -  Akure Diocese

v.                 The Rt. Revd. Martyn Minns                 -  CANA.

We pray the Almighty God to continue to bless and sustain them with good health, and make them enjoy their post-retirement service and life.

By the Grace of God, during the Standing Committee Meeting at Ado-Ekiti in September 2012, the Ven. Manase Okere was elected to take over as the new Bishop of Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Diocese.  He has been consecrated and enthroned successfully. 

In this vein, at the Bishops' Annual Retreat at Agbarha-otor in January 2013, three new Bishops were elected to take over from the retiring ones.  They are:

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            [a]       Very Revd. Dr. Simeon Borokeni           -           Akure Diocese

            [b]       Ven. Geoffrey Okoroafor                                    -           Egbu Diocese                      

            [c]       Ven. James Odedeji                                   -           Lagos-West Diocese.

They were consecrated at the Cathedral Church of St. Jude, Ebuta-Meta, Lagos on Sunday 24th February, 2013.  We pray that the good Lord will grant them peaceful and righteous episcopacies in Jesus Christ Name.

NEW DEAN, AND NEW ARCHBISHOPS:

Following the completion of the second tenure of our former Dean, the Most Revd. Dr. Ephraim  A. Ademowo, The Most Revd. Ignatius Kattey was elected the new Dean of Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  He has been presented.  In the same vein, some Archbishops whose tenure elapsed were replaced via election.  The new Archbishops include:

[a]       Most Revd. Prof. Adebayo Akinde        -           Lagos Province

[b]       Most Revd. Segun Okubadejo                -           Ibadan Province

[c]       Most Revd. Dr. Caleb Maduoma           -           Owerri Province.

Those re-elected are:

[i]        Most Revd. Edmund Akanya                  -           Kaduna Province

[i]        Most Revd. Benjamin Kwashi                 -           Jos Province.

They were presented at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Asaba on Saturday 12th January, 2013.  Our hearty and prayerful congratulations go to all of them and their wives.

DEMISE OF OUR FORMER PRIMATE:

On December 14, 2012, our Father in the Lord and former Primate, The Most Revd. Joseph .A. Adetiloye  [1988 – 1998], gloriously slept in the Lord.  His body has been buried after series of funeral activities in Lagos and Ado-Ekiti on 25th January, 2013.  We will continue to pray for the children and relatives he left behind.

NEW ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY:

Following the stepping aside of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd. Rt.

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Hon. Rowan Williams in December 2012, a new Archbishop of Canterbury has been appointed.  He is the Most Revd. Justin Welby.  He was enthroned on 21st and 22nd of March, 2013 at Christ Cathedral, Canterbury in a very dignified Church service and ceremony attended by people from all walks of life.  We pray for him that God in His infinite Mercy will grant him the Godly wisdom and undaunted boldness to address sincerely, meaningfully and practically those issues that are threatening both the corporate existence, and spiritual potency of the Anglican Communion especially in Europe, America, and Canada.

BISHOPS' ANNUAL RETREAT:

The 2013 Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] Bishops' Retreat was held at the Ibru Retreat and Ecumenical Centre from Monday 7th to Saturday 12th January, 2013.  The theme of the Retreat was “The Growing Church …”  it was indeed a very soul enriching Retreat for Church fathers in the Anglican Communion.

CHURCH OF NIGERIA STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING:

The September 2012 Standing Committee Meeting was held at The Cathedral Church of Emmanuel, Okesa, Ado-Ekiti from 11th to 15th September 2012.  The Theme of the Standing Committee was “Resisting the Devil …” [James 4:7].  In His opening charge and address to the Standing Committee, our Primate, The Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, reminded Christians that resisting the devil means to stand strong against the devil, his designs, and persecutions of God's children.  He re-emphasized that a successful resistance of the devil is only possible through the objective redemptive work of Christ on the Cross fully accepted and appropriated by a person.  The Diocese of Ekiti, the Bishop, and entire Anglican faithfuls in that Diocese need to be commended and appreciated for their commitment and hospitality.

From 5th to 9th of February, 2013, Church of Nigeria Standing Committee met also at our Saviour's Anglican Anglican Church, GRA, Benin City, Edo State.  The host Diocese of course was Diocese of Benin.  The Theme was “Overcoming the Challenges of the Time” [Revelation 2:8 – 11].   Going through the theme through many Preachers, Paper/Seminar Presenters, and the Bible Studies was a very powerful eye-opener for all the delegates especially in the area of the activities and agenda of both the Boko Haram sect generally, and Moslems in particular.  Once again, we were reminded that persecution and tribulation are not strange to Christians and Christianity.  We are encouraged not to be intimidated because

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intimidation is a strong weapon of the devil.  Our calling is that we should be faithful even if it warrants laying down our lives in defense of Christianity and the Christian Faith.

2012/2013 DIVCCON:

DIVCCON 2012 was held from 5th to 9th November, 2012 at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.  We continue to thank God for this vision and programme which has come to stay.  May I use this opportunity to call on all Anglicans both lay and ordained to take this Convention serious and give it the desired attention and participation.  The 2013 DIVCCON has been slated for 18 – 22 November, 2013.  The venue is yet to be announced. By the Grace of God, our Diocese has been participating fully and meaningfully especially the priests and their wives.  This year, we will be happy if more lay people will be in attendance.

ALL ANGLICAN CLERGY CONFERENCE:

Church of Nigeria All Clergy Conference was held at Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo from Monday 24th to Friday 28th September, 2012.  The report we got revealed that it was a very wonderful and challenging conference for the Clergy of our Communion.  We pray that it will not be long for Church of Nigeria to develop her Permanent Camp site so that the organization and concentration of conferees will experience more conducive spiritual environment.  Let us continue to pray for the committee that plans the conference.  God enabled the Clergy from this Diocese to participate fully.

2013 ST. MATTHIAS' DAY EVANGELISM COLLECTION:

The third edition of St. Matthias' Day collection for evangelism support for some needy and missionary Dioceses was held on Sunday 24th February, 2013 throughout Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion].  The fund became more imperative and compelling this time because of the added burden arising from the Flood Disaster which wrecked a lot of havoc in many Dioceses.  Diocese of Amichi as usual participated in this year's St. Matthias Day Evangelism Collection more sacrificially by improving on what we raised last year.  This year, the Diocese collected and remitted to Church of Nigeria the sum of one million, five hundred and eighteen thousand naira only [N1,518,000.=]. May I at this point thank and appreciate the Church workers in this Diocese for taking the exercise very serious by mobilizing their parishioners well.  For a Diocese in a pure rural setting as ours to raise such an

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amount of money in a Sunday is worthy of commendation.

NEWS AND EVENTS FROM PROVINCE OF THE NIGER:

FLOOD DISASTER IN OUR PROVINCE:

The year 2012 ended on a very disturbing and sad note as a result of the flood disaster that occurred in some parts of our Province.  Some of the Dioceses badly affected by the flood include Mbamili Diocese, Ogbaru Diocese, some part of Niger West Diocese, Ihiala Diocese.  Even Awka Diocese was affected in Awba-Ofemili side.  This ugly occurrence posed a great challenge to the Dioceses directly involved and the Province generally.  We must commend the outstanding resilience exhibited by our fathers in the Lord, The Rt. Revd. Henry .O.  Okeke, and The Rt. Revd. Dr. Samuel C. Ezeofor in the face of such natural disaster.  Our Archbishop, the Most Revd. Christian .O. Efobi was more than a father and compassionate leader as he made sure that the Province was fully involved in assisting both the Church workers and Parishioners both materially and financially. 

I must confess that all the Bishops of our Province and their wives are indeed wonderful and great.  They were indeed their brothers' keepers.  Bishop On the Niger and Mama On the Niger deserve special thanks for going extra mile in cushioning the effect of the disaster on Mbamili Diocese specially.  We pray that the Almighty God will continue to console the families of all who lost both lives and property in the Disaster.  Let me also thank His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State for identifying with the victims of the flood disaster meaningfully and practically.  He did not only provide relief materials to the victims but also was in constant visit to the affected areas.  That is how the heart and attitude of a true leader towards his citizens should be.  I want to specially appeal to our Governor and his government to please take very serious the Weather Predictions of NIMET for this year and take precautionary and proactive measures to forestall the re-occurrence of such disaster and loss of lives and property.

PAUL UNIVERSITY, AWKA:

We will continue to thank God for making us as joint Province to have our own University called Paul University.  This University is owned surprisingly by fifty-five Dioceses in the South-South and South-East States of Nigeria.  It is quite dis-heartening and shocking that this University is about to die in our hands.  May I appeal to well meaning Anglicans in the five Provinces that own this Institution to

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rise to the challenge of sponsoring Paul University.  My brother Bishops should also show enough commitment towards the sustenance of this University.  There is no Diocese that has enough money not to talk of surplus.  Therefore, hiding under the cloak of saying “My Diocese is poor” cannot solve this problem.  Sacrifice and Commitment is all we need to keep this institution afloat.  I am of the candid opinion that both posterity and eternity will never forgive us if we allow Paul University to suffocate and die.  In another development, those who manage the meager resources generated for the University should learn to do that with utmost meticuluity and serene honesty and probity.  The staff strength and size should be carefully re-evaluated with sole aim of right-sizing either upwardly or downwardly.  Let us all work for the final accreditation of Paul University.  Let our Anglican philanthropists standup and face this challenge.

BIRTHDAYS AND DEDICATION:

Let me personally and prayerfully congratulate His Lordship, The Rt. Revd. Alexander Ibezim PHD who celebrated his Golden age birthday in November 2012.  I wish to also thank God for mercifully preserving the lives of His Excellency, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and Chief Emeka Anyaoku to celebrate their eightieth birthdays.  In the same vein, our heartfelt felicitation and congratulation goes also to Her Excellency, Dame Virgy Etiaba as she celebrated her seventieth birthday.  The Good Lord who has brought you thus far in seeing such eventful and fruitful years in your lives will surely grant all of you more memorable and fulfilling years of healthy living in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

DEDICATION OF MBAMILI DIOCESE BISHOPSCOURT:

Truly, God is faithful in all situations and circumstances.  After the flood disaster, it was humanly difficult to think that the dedication of Mbamili Diocesan Bishopscourt was still possible before now.  But on April 3, 2013, His Grace, the Most Revd. Nicolas .D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria dedicated the Bishopscourt to the Glory and Honour of God, assisted by over twenty Bishops and their wives.

We commend and congratulate, The Rt. Revd. Henry Okeke, and his wife, Mrs. Julie Okeke, and the entire congregation of their Diocese for this wonderful feat achieved.  It is pertinent for me at this point to congratulate other Bishops and Dioceses though outside our Province who dedicated their Bishopscourt.  They include:        

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                        The Rt. Revd. Godson Ukanwa   -           Okigwe-North Diocese

                        Rt. Revd. David Onuoha               -           Okigwe-South Diocese

                        Rt. Revd. Chidi Oparaojiaku        -           Ohaji/Egbema Diocese.

May God be continually praised as the Church continues to grow and expand spiritually and structurally.

DIOCESE OF AMICHI => NEWS; EVENTS, AND INFORMATION:

INAUGURATION OF PARISHES:

Within this Synod year under review, we by the Grace of God inaugurated two Parishes in the Diocese.  On Sunday, 19th August 2012, St. Andrew's Parish, Unubi was inaugurated with Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo as the Vicar.  The next Parish which is Church of Divine Compassion, Amichi was inaugurated on Sunday 30th December, 2012 with Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma as Vicar.  All Saints' Church, Obiofia-Osumenyi whose parish status was put on hold as a result of some developments has now been restored to that Parish status. Their inauguration, and that of Christ Church Parish, Odikpi-Osumenyi will take place in a later date to be fixed by the Bishop after this Synod.  We thank the Parishioners of these inaugurated Parishes and their Priests for the commitments and sacrifices in making the inauguration a reality.

DEDICATIONS:

On 26th August 2012, we dedicated St. Paul's Church, Unubi.  In the same service, we also laid the foundation stone of the Church which has not been done. During the fiftieth birthday celebration of Ven. Augustine Ojukwu on Saturday 24th November 2012, we happily dedicated his family house at Oba.  On 19th December 2012, His Grace, The Most     Revd. C.O. Efobi, Archbishop of Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Aguata, assisted by three other Archbishops and twenty Bishops dedicated the family house of Rt. Revd. Ephraim .O. and Dame Nkem Ikeakor at Umuchu-Alanso in Aguata L.G.A.  This house is known as MERCYCOURT, and the Chapel is called CHAPEL OF MERCY.  My wife and I use this medium to thank all who attended the ceremony, and all who encouraged and supported us voluntarily both prayerfully and materially.  Our God will continue to bless and enrich you abundantly in Jesus Christ Name.

 

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On Sunday, 30th of December 2012, to the Glory of the Almighty God, the beautiful Parsonage built by Church of Divine Compassion, Amichi was dedicated.  It was indeed a joyful and glorious occasion.  We congratulate all the members of the Church for their sacrifice and doggedness in building such a befitting vicarage for their Priests and Church workers.

COLLATION OF CANONS; LICENSING OF LAY READERS; AND

 PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF SURE ANCHOR NEWSPAPER:

Three new Canons were collated as Honorary Canons of the Cathedral on Saturday 10th November, 2012.  Those collated canons are:  Revd. Kenechukwu Anyakoha; Revd. Samson Ikedinma; and Revd. Oliver Chigbo.  We congratulate the new Canons and their wives.  As we congratulate you, it is very important to remind you though you know that, “To whom much is given, much is required”.

Furthermore, in the same Service, about sixty-eight new Lay Readers were licensed.  The old Lay Readers were inducted into the Diocese. We thank those committed men and women who voluntarily answered our call to be licensed Lay Readers.  We also plead with them to see this assignment as a selfless call to render acceptable and holy service to the Almighty God.    Lay Readership is not and can never be a platform for antagonizing your Priest or Church worker.  It is not also a miniature Priesthood whereby you begin to demand for some Rights and Privileges exclusively meant for Priests and fulltime Church workers.  We do not commission lay Evangelists in this Diocese for now.  The reasons are very obvious:-

[i]        To maintain our Anglican heritage and identity.

[ii]       To avoid enthroning rascality and opening dangerous doors for independent           and personal Ministries.

[iii]      To stem the tide of using the Anglican Church as a fishing pond for raising     members of another Church denomination cunningly called “Ministry”.

[iv]      To exercise full and effective control, including oversight shepherd function on       the flock.

Anyone who feels that he is called to be an Evangelist should be made to do that within the context of a fulltime Church worker who will be in the payroll of the Church.

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During the same service of Collation of Canons, and licensing of Lay Readers, there was the official public presentation of “Sure Anchor Newspaper” which is the official newspaper of the Diocese of Amichi. By this action, our Newspaper is now an officially recognized Newspaper with International Standard Serial Number [ISSN] and fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.  We encourage all especially our abroad members to patronize and publicize the Newspaper by giving it out as gifts to your friends and associates.

ADVENT ORDINATION:

The fourth Advent Ordination Service of the Diocese was held on Sunday 2nd December, 2012.  The service took place at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  In the service, four Ordinands were made Deacons, while two Deacons were ordained Priests.  The new deacons are:

            [i]        Revd. Promise Alor

            [ii]       Revd. Ifeanyi Chukwuka

            [iii]      Revd. James Mbonu

            [iv]      Revd. Chukwuka Nwosu.

The new Priests are:

            [a]       Revd. Nelson .C. Chijindu

            [b]       Revd. Godson Ugochukwu.

Our Prayer for you and your wives is that the Lord who called you into His Divine Service will surely grant you the Grace to be faithful to Him to the end.

In the Ordination Service, a Knight and his wife, Sir Dr. & Lady U.C. Nzewi  on their own volition handed over to the Bishop the keys of a new Audi 80 Car to be given to any of the newly ordained using his [Bishop's] discretion.  The Bishop within the Church service did balloting for all the people involved and Revd. Chukwuka Nwosu was blessed to be the one who picked the “YES” tag, and so became a happy owner of a new car the same day he was made a Deacon.  It was actually a very joyful Ordination Service as the provision of the Car added glamour and ecstasy to the whole exercise.  We want to officially thank and appreciate the donor and his wife for such a wonderful gesture.  He is not the richest among the Knights, and our members.  The heart is what makes the difference between two worshippers of

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God.  May God in his infinite mercy bless and reward you more abundantly in Jesus Christ Name.  Let me also encourage other members of our Diocese to see the welfare and wellbeing of their Priests and Church workers as a necessity and Priority.  Whatever you give to your Pastor is a gift to God and will never go without God's reward and blessings.

DIOCESAN CHURCH WORKERS/WIVES ANNUAL SET-APART:

Every year, all the Church workers and wives in this Diocese usually start their work for the year with three days Set Apart Retreat.  This year, this Set Apart for Clergy, Church Teachers, and their wives was held on Thursday 17th – Saturday 19th January, 2013 at Christ Anglican Church, Amichi.  The theme for the Retreat was, “That I may know Him …” [Philippians 3:10].  The Guest Preacher was Ven. Prosper Amah; and the Bible study was led by Ven. David Nonyelum.  It was indeed a time of spiritual refreshing.  God used our resource persons to set the right atmosphere spiritually for us to begin our work for the year.  God will continue to bless their ministries and make them worthy of His Kingdom on the last day in Jesus Christ Name.

DIOCESAN CRUSADE:

The first Diocesan Crusade organized by the Diocesan Evangelism and Mission Committee was held from Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th November, 2012 at our new acquired land at Afube-Amichi.  Being aware of our spiritual terrain here, we chose the theme of the Crusade as “Dealing with Faulty Foundations”.  God used the guest Preacher, Evang. Nnamdi Ezeh to do great and wonderful works.  The programme recorded a tremendous harvest of Souls.  The attendance to the programme both by our own members and non-Anglicans was overwhelming.  I want to specially thank all the Clergymen and other Church workers in the Diocese for giving maximum support and co-operation to the Diocese of Amichi Mission and Evangelism Committee in making the Crusade a great success.  God bless all of you.

MAIDEN DIOCESAN MISSION AND EVANGELISM WEEK:

The first Amichi Diocesan mission and Evangelism week was held from 25th to 30th February, 2013.  It was organized and held simultaneously in all the Archdeaconries in the Diocese.  We are very glad and encouraged by the result and success of the exercise.  The Gospel was taken to the grassroot; souls were won into God's Kingdom through the conversion of people.  Once again, we thank the members of DAMEC for their zeal and commitment.  Most of our Church workers need to be

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commended for a job well done.  Even though the exercise was adjudged successful generally, yet there are few places where their Archdeacons and some Church workers did not take it serious. Some did it the way they wanted, and not the way it was instructed to be done.  The only comment I have in this regard is that this work and vineyard belong to God, and definitely He will reward every one of us according to our deeds and level of faithfulness.  The Mission and Evangelism Week is now an annual event which must be taken very seriously throughout the Diocese.

RETREAT FOR ALL P.C.C MEMBERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

MEMBERS OF ALL ARMS AND ORGANIZATIONS:

We have made it a tradition in this Diocese to organize a special Retreat at the beginning of every year for the Parochial Church Committee Members and all Executive members of all organizations in the Church.  The essence of this annual retreat is to re-awaken our consciousness to what our roles and duties are as Spiritual leaders of our Church at various levels.  This year's Retreat was held at St. Simon's Anglican Church, Ezinifite from Friday 25th to Saturday 26th of January, 2013.  It is always a period of crucial interactive session where people are free to ask any question on any issue concerning our Anglican Church and practices; and also about some policies in the Diocese.  We started the Retreat each day with Eucharistic Service.  The Resource persons were very wonderful in all their presentation.

DIOCESAN SPECIAL SPIRITUAL PROGRAMMES:

[i]        FIRST BORNS NIGHT:

This is a program specially designed for all the first children of their parents both men and women.  It is peculiarly meant to address their peculiar needs and situations in prayers and with the Word of God.  The 2012 edition of the First Borns Night was held in November 21, 2012 at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi from 10 p.m. till dawn.  We were grossly overwhelmed by the growing number of participants who travelled from far and wide transversing many states of Nigeria to attend.  The last edition attracted over three thousand participants.  It is purely a gathering of first sons and first daughters.  The 2013 First-Borns Night will take place on Friday 29th November, 2013 at 10.00 p.m.  We encourage you to pray and plan to come if you are in that category of persons.

 

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[ii]       DIOCESAN COVENANT SUNDAY:

The entire Diocese of Amichi usually worship together one Sunday in January to renew our Covenant with God.  This is usually done on the last Sunday of January every year.  It is a time of presenting ourselves, families, businesses, sources of livelihood to God in Prayer.  It is not limited to the members of the Diocese only because people from all walks of life, and places do attend.  The 2013 edition of Covenant Sunday took place on Sunday 27th January, 2013 at the Cathedral.  We give all the Glory to God for what He has been doing through these programmes.  The topic we handled this year was, “The Original Master Plan”.

[iii]     DIOCESAN LENTEN MEDITATION:

Recognizing how important and central the Lenten season is to Christians generally and the Anglican Church in particular, the Diocese has devised a means of observing the Lenten season in grand style by worshipping together every Wednesday in the Lenten period.  This is rotated around Churches and Parishes in the Diocese.  The joy, fellowship and Revival engendered through this have been very enormous.  Members wait for it each year with great zeal and expectation.  It has given great impetus and encouragement to small Churches or areas the Anglican presence has hitherto not been felt.  This year's Diocesan Lenten Meditations took place in the following Churches.

[a]       St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi           -           20th February, 2013.

[b]       St. Philip's Church, Amichi                       -           27th February, 2013.

[c]       Ebenezer Church, Unubi                          -           6th March, 2013.

[d]       Holy Trinity Church, Utuh                                    -           13th March, 2013.

[e]       St. Andrew's Church, Ebenator             -           20th March, 2013.

The Preachers in various Churches as presented above were: Revd. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka; Revd. Canon Franklin Chukwudozie; Revd. Marcel Ezegwu; Revd. Samuel Iwuorah; and Rt. Revd. E.O. Ikeakor who usally take the last date to bless the people of God.

[iv]      NIGHT OF EVIDENCE:

This programme which came on Good Friday Night 29th March, 2013 witnessed the largest turn out of crowd and participants in the history of Amichi Diocese. It was

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held at the Cathedral/Holy Child Convent Football Field.  An estimate of nine to ten thousand people from many neighbouring states were in attendance.  It was tagged, ”Good Friday Special”.  The greatest high point of the programme won a massive harvest of souls that yielded their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ         after ministering on the Topic, “My Evidence from Calvary”.  The Praise section was led by Sis. Chinyere Udoma.  ‘Night of Evidence' will now be an annual event so as to appropriate the reality of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Cross in the lives of people.  We give God all the Praise and Pray that those souls that were harvested for Christ will remain in Faith till the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in Glory.

[v]       TRUMPET AND TRIUMPHANT NIGHT:

This is our annual ‘Praise Night' through which we render untetterred Praise and worship to the Almighty God for who He is, and the great things He has done for us throughout the year.  The 2012 Trumpet and Triumphant Night held on 7th December, 2012 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi from 10 p.m. till down.  Bro Israel Anyanele and his Agape Love Band from Aba was on hand to lead the Praise Galore.  Also Nkwa Group from St. John's Anglican Church, Fegge-Onitsha was also on hand to lead the people of God in worshipping God.  It was indeed a night that cannot be forgotten in a haste.  Our own Destiny Fulfillers Mass Choir was not left out of the special Night as they rendered very scintillating number to lift the spirit of the enthusiastic worshippers who filled the Cathedral Church.

[vi]      VALENTINE BANQUET:

The 2013 Valentine Banquet was held on Sunday 10th February, 2013 at the Cathedral field at 12 noon. There is no how we can run away from the reality that Valentine Day celebration has come to stay among both the old and the young.  The Church can no longer stand aloof criticizing its celebration instead of getting actively involved by changing the modalities and focus of the event.  It is in a bid to re-direct the celebrants of Valentine Day to bring honour and Glory to God that we by the help of God and His Holy Spirit have designed what we call “Valentine Banquet”.  This year's Valentine Banquet brought together over one thousand five hundred youths and adults married and single from various places.  We are almost sure of the numbers that attend each year because invitation cards are sold though at a very subsidized cost compared to what the event costs the Diocese every year.  The essence of the Card is just to control the crowd, and also give the packaging of the programme the special touch and dignity it entails.  The famous Glorious Singers

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from Enugu came around to grace the occasion.  The Kingdom Life Drama Group from Onitsha presented a very soul enriching and challenging drama that made people to weep during and after watching it.  There was an interactive session when questions bordering on practical life experiences and issues were discussed and everyone had opportunity to make input on the issue raised.  Young couples were treated to Intimacy Games where selected couples who volunteered demonstrated how intimate they were to their spouses by answering questions centred on their wives or husbands.  By the Grace of God, soured relationships were healed and restored; youths were re-orientated on relationships and love; and more importantly, many people surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  We want to use this opportunity to appeal to our members who can, to partner with us in this rescue mission by assisting in sponsoring the programme.  We spend close to one million naira or more each year in hosting and packaging the programme.  May God bless you richly and always as you volunteer to partner with us.

PRAYER BREAKFAST: 

This is a special monthly Prayer gathering aimed at blessing and empowering God's people in the new month entered.  It holds on the first day of every month at The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi at 6.00 a.m.  Through the Grace and Mercy of the Almighty God, this Prayer Breakfast has been growing in limbs and bounds.  The attendance scope spans to all states of South-East, and some South-South states.  People even travel from far away Lagos and Abuja the previous day so as to join in the programme the next day.  So many testimonies are shared as a result of what God is doing in it.  We give all the Praise and adoration to the only true and living God. We encourage those who have not attended, to give it a trial and God will surely bless you.

EVENTS AND PROJECTS:

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

This is an annual end of the year thank you Party and get-together for all the Clergymen, Church Teachers, and their wives which holds in the Bishopscourt every year.  The 2012 edition of the event took place on Friday, 21st December 2012.  The aim of this gathering is to share fellowship and encourage Church workers who labour throughout the year in sustaining the Diocese.  Gift items are usually provided for the workers in the spirit of Christmas season.

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WIDOWS CHRISTMAS PARTY:

This is one of our Welfare Evangelism Mechanism which is organized for Widows especially those who don't have helpers in their matrimonial homes.  It was held on Saturday, December 22, 2012 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.  Over six hundred widows from different parishes and even those who are non-Anglicans benefitted from the exercise.  Each widow went home with half bag of rice and one carton of small-size tin tomatoes.  They were also treated to sumptuous lunch by Mama Amichi Diocese, Dame Nkem Ikeakor, and the wives of the Clergy.  It was a very joyful and fulfilling programme.  But most importantly, it was a time of real fellowship where the Word of God was preached and taught which led to some of them surrendering their lives to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I must sincerely thank and appreciate all our members who sacrificially supported us to make that occasion a reality especially the gallant and noble Knights of our Diocese who contributed substantially.  Our Archdeacons and other Priests need to be appreciated also for their support, commitment and encouragement.  The exercise to me is a very laudable one despite some challenges we are facing in its organization due to human frailty and complex nature.

MOP UP RETREAT FOR KNIGHTS/LADIES, AND MAIDEN RE-DEDICATION SERVICE:

In our resolve to carry every Knight and Lady along in the Diocese, we slated a Mop up Retreat for all the Knights and Ladies of our Diocese who for one reason or the other were unable to attend the Retreat organized for them at Agbarha-otor in February, 2012.  This Mop up Retreat took place on 5th and 6th April, 2013 at Shalom Chapel, Bishopscourt, Amichi.  The theme of the Retreat was, “That I may know Him”.  We are very much encouraged by the wonderful response from the affected Knights and Ladies.  We thank all who attended and announce to those who did not attend that we cannot recognize you as a Knight or Lady in this Diocese until you participate in the Retreat.  Since the Holy Bible has asked a very pertinent question in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together except they agree”, I do not see the possibility of walking with Knights who are purely uninterested in and opposed to Spiritual activities embedded in Knighthood Investiture.

Before this Synod rises, I will distribute to all the Knights and Ladies, the full list containing the names of recognized and functional Knights and Ladies of Diocese of Amichi.  To my mind, we have been patient enough, and the time to act is now. 

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Those who think that once you send money, that makes you a Knight; you are not only wrong but mistaken.  We did not investiture your ghost nor your money.  It is you as a physical existing human being that took the investiture.  The priority here is – Physical Presence and participation first, then your financial contribution. On the other hand, we had our first re-dedication service for all the Knights and Ladies on Sunday, 7th April 2013 at Immanuel Anglican Church, Ekwulumili.  The response and attendance by Knights and Ladies to this Service is another positive indication that good days are ahead for Knighthood in our Diocese.  God bless all who attended.  The Re-dedication Service is now annual event which will be taking place on the first Sunday after Easter every year.

 We have written a letter to the President of Diocesan Council of Knights, Dr. Sir Edwin Agbasimelo, and his executive committee asking them to nominate Novices who will be investitured into Knighthood next year.  I have fully left the nomination of candidates for Knighthood into their hands, so that I can concentrate on other things.  I appeal to them to screen very strenuously and painstakingly the people they will recommend for us.  This is because performance, commitment, and Christian testimony are the only acceptable parameters.  This does not in any way mean that any name they send to us automatically scales through.  I will also conduct my own screening on the recommended candidates before their training will commence.  May the Holy Spirit of God guide you.  Amen.

DEMISE OF REVD. CANON SUNDAY .C. UZOABAKA:

On the early hours of Monday, February 4, 2013 we received with shock and grief the death of our pioneer and immediate past Clerical Synod Secretary, Revd. Canon Sunday .C. Uzoabaka.  Although Canon Uzoabaka had health challenge, but nobody ever thought that it will lead to his death.  It is a painful experience because no Bishop ever prays to lose any of his Church workers in active service.  Canon Sunday Uzoabaka was buried in his home Church, St. Mary's Anglican Church, Umuomaku on Thursday 11th April, 2013.  We must thank the Clergy and their wives for their unflinching support and encouragement throughout that turbulent period.  May we please stand and observe a minute silence in honour of this servant of God who has gone to be with the Lord.

OUR DIOCESAN HOSPITAL:

With a very gladsome and appreciative heart I inform you that full and total renovation work has commenced earnestly in the hospital.  All the wards,

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administrative blocks, and theatre have been fully re-roofed.  Two bungalow buildings for doctors' residence have been started and finished. The theatre is being equipped to standard so that full surgery will commence in earnest.  All these things would not have been possible if not for the large-heartedness and commitment to masses-oriented pragmatic leadership of our dear Governor of Anambra state, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi [CON].  At the time of writing this address between February and May, 2013, the Governor has released a total sum of twenty-two million naira only [N22m] to us for the Rehabilitation and Renovation of the hospital. He has even promised to do more to make sure that the hospital meets the desired standard.  Our Governor has also magnanimously promised to give a brand new ambulance to the hospital before the end of June, 2013.  I don't really know how to thank our Governor to reveal the state of our heart to him, but the only thing meaningful we can say is to pray the Almighty God in whose name you are doing these things to continue to protect, bless, and preserve you for this generation in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is in the spirit of re-positioning the hospital that we report to you that we have relieved the former medical Superintendent in the person of Dr. Okwudili Obiadazie of his appointment with the hospital.  The only thing I need to say here is that Dr. Okwudili Obiadazie dealt with us.  He used our hospital to make his money. But I think today is a new beginning.  Running a hospital for us without giving any account or financial report to us for these five years of Synod year is both unheard of and unspeakable, but that was our experience with him.   I believe that showing him the way out of the hospital is a very good riddance of  a  bad rubbish.  Our patience and Christian magnanimity were stretched beyond limit, and our Christian tolerance taken for granted.

During the plenary session, more detailed discussion will be had to know what really transpired and chart a new course further.  As part of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Re-positioning of the hospital for optimal performance, we have prayerfully appointed an Acting Hospital Administrator for the hospital in the person of Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma.  He has since assumed duty and the result in the few months he has managed the hospital has been wonderful and overwhelming.  In order to make the hospital very functional, we have re-constituted the Hospital Management Board thus:

            [i]        Sir Dr. Edwin Agbasimelo                        -           Chairman

            [ii]       Mrs. Esther Maduka                      -           Member

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            [iii]      Lady Barr. Amaka Udogu             -                

            [iv]      Mr. Chiedozie Ozodo                    -                

            [v]       Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo         -                

            [vi]      Ven. Henry Amobi                         -                

            [vii]     Revd. Canon Samson Ikedinma -           Secretary

            [viii]    Sir Naboth N.C. Egbeigwe            -           Member

            [ix]      Sir Dr. A.B.  Atuchukwu               -                

            [x]       Mr. Christian Okwonna                -                

            [xi]      Sir Anselem Obiagwu                    -                

            [xii]     Sir Christian .I. Nwosu                  -                

The re-constituted Board members will be dedicated tomorrow during our Synod Sunday Service.  Their terms of reference include:

[a]       To reposition the hospital for optimal performance and productivity.

[b]       To supervise and oversee the running of the hospital in line with standard     hospital rules and regulations.

[c]       To advertise, recruit, promote or demote as the case may be, the needed staff        of the hospital.

[d]       To work in harmony with the hospital administrator to see that the aims and             objectives of setting up the hospital by the Diocese are realized.

[e]       To suggest to the Bishop and advise him accordingly on issues bordering on the professional and proficient running of the Hospital.

[f]        To exercise a very strict and accountable oversight function over the hospital             management and all the employees there.

[g]       To perform such other functions as the Bishop may deem fit to assign to them         from time to time.        

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI:

To the Glory and Honour of the Almighty God, we dedicated the multi-million three-

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storey hostel building of this Convent on Saturday 6th October, 2012.  This is one project we continue to thank God for. It has the capacity of accommodating up to eight hundred students.  In the same occasion, we commissioned the classroom blocks of the Convent, and also dedicated the brand new forty-five [45 KVA] sound-proof generator provided by the Diocese for the School.  Members of Board of Governors, Priests of our Diocese and their wives, the principal, staff and students were present to witness the joyful occasion.  On Monday 29th of April, 2013, we gladly laid the foundation stone of the Principal's and senior staff house of the Convent.  By the special Grace of God, we intend to dedicate the house sometime in October this year.  The School has continued to grow in all spheres.  The result of the last year's WASC Examination was greatly wonderful.  The school operates a zero tolerance to any form of examination malpractice.  We strongly believe that this year's result will be very great.  We have vowed never to compromise high Moral Standard, and Academic Excellence.  Other details of the school will be given by the Principal during her report presentation.  Let me use this medium to announce the appointment of Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi; and Revd. Canon Oliver Chigbo into the Board of Governors of Holy Child Convent, Amichi.  This appointment takes immediate effect.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI:

The Seminary has continued to be a source of joy to us because of the marvelous things the Lord is doing there.  Recently, we acquired two and half plots of land behind the school for the purpose of building a standard and befitting hostel at the cost of eight million naira [N8m], survey and agency fees inclusive. Because of population upsurge in the school from far and near, we are now under very serious pressure to have a new classroom block in place before September if we must accommodate the over one hundred and thirty young boys who applied for admission through the common entrance examination into JSS 1 alone.  The new structure has been started and we have cast the first deck of the house, moving to the second deck.  Because it is not conventional and proper to have a female to head the Seminary as Principal, we have therefore appointed the Revd. Godson Ugochukwu as the new Principal of the School.  I must use this opportunity to thank and appreciate the Pioneer Principal, Miss Esther Ogbaji for laying a very solid foundation for the smooth and standard take off of the school which was the major assignment given to her when we asked her to head the school at incubation.  Thank you immensely for doing exactly what we asked you to do for us.  God will without

                                                                        27

fail bless you abundantly.  Let me also express our gratitude to the P.T.A of this school for sponsoring the drilling and provision of a functional borehole for the school.  Thank you also for deciding to embark on the construction of overhead water thanks for the school.  I want to passionately appeal to all our members both at home and in diaspora to please come to our aid in providing the needed structures for the school.  All the launchings we will do in this Synod both today and tomorrow will be fully channeled towards the completion of the two storey building before September.  By September, the school will be in JSS III with a population of over three hundred students.  God is indeed faithful.  It is very apt for me to thank the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the school, Sir Dr. U.C. Nzewi for bringing his brother Dr. Azuka Nzewi who resides overseas to donate Encyclopedia of twenty volumes to the Seminary recently.  We also thank Sir Dr. Jeff Okeke who is the Chairman of P.T.A of the school for the good and encouraging job you and the other parents are doing there.  God bless all of you.  The maiden Confirmation service of the seminary took place on 5th December, 2012 during which seventy students were confirmed by us. 

DIOCESAN INTEGRATED POULTRY FARM:

We thank God that finally we have established and stocked our Poultry farm with birds.  This has been a very capital-intensive project which has gulped millions of naira.  Presently, the poultry farm building face-one has been fully completed to standard. The first batch of five thousand birds has arrived and they are doing very well.  We have also built a five bedroom standard apartment for skeletal and Key Staff of the Farm inside the premises.  This also involved some millions of naira.  We have extended PHCN light to the farm, and also provided standby small generator which can serve the purpose for now.  Our major target is to establish an integrated Poultry farm which will have fifteen to twenty thousand birds before the end of 2014.  Mr. Chukwudozie Ubah who is the pioneer Manager of the farm/a Church Teacher deserves our special commendation for his commitment, doggedness and zeal in managing the farm.  As in other projects, we need your assistance financially.  All we are struggling to do is to make our Diocese Self-Reliant and self-sustaining.  But above all, to meaningfully reduce the assessment burden carried by Churches in a few years to come. 

 

                                                                        28

 

STATISTICS OF CONFIRMATION AND ADMISSIONS:

          This statistics covers August 2012 to April, 2013.

S/N

                       CHURCH

     DATE

CONFIRMATION

MALE    FEMALE

GIRLS'

GUILD

WOMEN's

GUILD

MOTHERS' UNION

OFFERINGS

 

AFTER  2012 DIOCESAN  SYNOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

         N

 

1.

EBENEZER CHURCH, UNUBI

08/07/12

11

12

5

6

3

  7,225.=

2.

CHRIST ANGLICAN CHURCH, AMICHI

15/07/12

8

4

4

2

2

21,075.=

3.

ALL SAINTS' CHURCH, OSUMENYI

02/09/12

5

5

10

6

2

  7,685.=

4.

CHRIST CHURCH, ODIKPI-OSUMENYI

23/09/12

2

8

2

9

-

  4,345.=

5.

ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, OSUMENYI

11/11/12

8

23

2

10

3

14,935.=

6.

HOLY CHILD CONVENT, AMICHI

14/11/12

-

65

44

-

-

17,200.=

7.

ST. JAMES' CHURCH, AZIGBO

25/11/12

8

4

7

-

3

  8,355.=

8.

MASTER'S VESSEL SEMINARY, OSUMENYI

05/12/12

77

-

-

-

-

10,725.=

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.

ST. PETER'S CHURCH, AMICHI

20/01/13

5

8

2

8

-

12,375.=

10.

CHURCH OF DIVINE COMPASSION, AMICHI

17/02/13

4

6

4

5

3

11,345.=

11.

ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH, UNUBI

17/03/13

5

10

2

3

6

11,305.=

12.

IMMANUEL CHURCH, AKWAIHEDI

24/03/13

4

13

10

23

-

  7,325.=

13.

ST.ANDREW'S CHURCH, EBENATOR

21/04/13

5

8

4

1

2

18,750.=

 

TOTAL

 

142

166

96

73

24

N152,645.=

 

WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS:

I want to sincerely appreciate the President of the Mothers' Union, Women's Guild, and Girls' Guild, my own very wife, Dame Nkem Ikeakor, and the women organizations of this Diocese for being very supportive.  They have not lagged behind in any form in playing their expected roles in moving the Diocese forward.  During the Christmas widows Party, they spent not less than five hundred thousand naira [N500,000.=] to support the gesture.  Their promptness in the meeting of all their financial obligations to the Diocese is always very commendable.  May God continue to bless our women in Jesus Christ Name.  They have also established a buoyant piggery at Ezinifite, and drilled a functional borehole there with overhead tanks.

RETIREMENT:

You will recall that we informed you that Revd. Canon Enoch .S. Umeoranefo would retire from Church active service on 31st December, 2012.  We are pleased to let you know that by the Grace of God, he did retire healthily as announced, and his full gratuity was paid to him by the Diocese.  That indeed is a peaceful retirement, and he has been participating in activities within the Diocese joyfully.  We continue to pray for him to enjoy his post-retirement life.  On the other hand, the Superannuation office wrote us in April informing us that Revd. Canon Peter Nneji will retire from Service in December, 2014.  This is in keeping with their new policy

                                                                        29

of giving the intended retiree not less than one year notice to enable him adjust gradually and comfortably.  Let us continue to pray for him for good health and strength to cope in the job pending the official retirement period.

WEFARE/SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME:

To me, it will be like blowing our trumpet, and also contrasting the Bible principle if we begin to mention names of people who have benefitted from this package.  But suffice it to say that many young people are in various institutions of higher learning through our Diocesan Welfare and Scholarship programme.  Some other people have their hospital bills paid, yet others have their businesses supported financially to encourage them.  The full records of these things are with us in the office of the Accountant.  Some are assisted in securing admissions but the persons must merit it and be a full and committed member of the Church.  I want to once again appeal to archdeacons and vicars in Churches to take the issue of welfare of our members very serious.  A situation where a parishioner will have a minor problem of say three thousand naira only, and will be advised by his/her priest to go to the Bishop is not only embarrassing but also very unacceptable.

WEDDING BEFORE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE:

It has become imperatively expedient to state the stand of the Diocese on this subject matter.  This is so because of myriads of questions and comments from our members especially those domiciled outside the Diocese.  Secondly, because some neighbouring and sister Dioceses have seen it as an avenue for cheap Evangelism and scouting for membership and acceptability.  To me, the Church exists for the Truth.  We are in the world but not of the world.  A true Church of Jesus Christ should not operate on the principle of “What is convenient for the People”, rather the Church should stand on “What is right and proper”.  Based on the foregoing, I want to state categorically once more that the new trend of having Church wedding early in the morning, and going for traditional marriage in the evening of the same day is not acceptable in this Diocese.  This dangerous trend of giving people what they want instead of what they need is not only reducing the Church to a mere social gathering seeking for recognition and acceptance by the world but destroying it also.  When have our Culture even allowed one to take somebody's daughter to the altar without completing all necessary traditional rites?  What is the origin and essence of asking during the Church wedding, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man”?   Is it not to be very sure that every traditional rite has been

                                                                        30

fulfilled, and that makes the father or the representative of the father to come forward and hand over the bride to the bridegroom?  My final word on this is, ‘People may abhor and detest the truth today, but one day, they will not only desire the truth but will revolt against error and falsehood'.

CONGRATULATIONS FOR NEW BABIES:

All things come from God, and children are heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward from Him.  As we thank God for safe delivery of these new babies, let me congratulate these servants and Priests of God who were blessed with new babies within the Synod year under review.  They are:

            [a]       Revd. Canon & Mrs. Franklin Chukwudozie

            [b]       Revd. & Mrs. Samuel Omuka – Bishop's Chaplain

            [c]       Revd. & Mrs. Patrick Onwuzuruike

            [d]       Revd. & Mrs. Pascal Umeoduagu

            [e]       Revd. & Mrs. Promise Alor

            [f]        Revd. & Mrs. Chukwunonso Chijindu

            [g]       Revd. & Mrs.  Samuel Iwuorah.

May all these children be nurtured in the way of God to represent the true Priestly and Levitical families they came from through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

THE STATE OF THE NATION:

ANAMBRA STATE/GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION:

One basic thing we must not run away from at anytime especially as Church leaders is to speak the Truth and nothing but the Truth at all times. Obviously, it may hurt some people and make them feel either disgusted with you or disagree with you. What I am saying in essence here is to first of all congratulate our governor, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi as he winds up and consummates his second tenure in office.  It may interest us to know that Mr. Peter Obi is the first governor to have governed our state Anambra for two consecutive tenures.  This is a rare feat.  Furthermore, I want to categorically say without fear of contradiction that even though Peter Obi cannot be labeled a Saint in his policies and governance, but I must

                                                                        31

say that he has not done very badly.  He has given governance in Anambra state both a human face, and also a touch of decency and focus.  I am confidently saying these things because he is not involved in the forth-coming election at least as a candidate, lest any person accuses me of campaigning for him openly. Removing the name of Anambra state from perennial debtor states needs special commendation.  May God bless you in your future endeavours and political desire for repositioning education, health-care, and infrastructural development in our dear state.  Make sure you bow out in honour and integrity.

SPECIAL APPEAL TO OUR GOVERNOR:

Last year, I remember that we complained in our Presidential address about the snail-speed at which the construction work was going on in Azigbo-Amichi-Osumenyi-Akwaihedi road.  May I herein thank our governor for the completion of the work.  But I want to passionately appeal to you to come to our rescue as it concerns the Amichi-Ekwulumili-Unubi axis of the Onitsha-oba-Nnewi-Amichi-Okigwe Road Construction.  The road construction was just terminated immediately after Nnewi leaving the Amichi axis completely unattended to.  What has given birth to this selective attention and attitude in that road construction has been a myth and mirage to us.  Even though we know that it is a Federal Road, but what has pushed it from Onitsha and stopped after Nnewi should be given serious attention.  Your Excellency, we are feeling highly neglected and ignored.  If this road is done, I am quite sure that many business and economic opportunities will be opened for people in this area.  The area in question is not more than five kilometers.  We need your kind and immediate action on this matter so that what we have been suffering during previous rainy seasons will not be experienced this year.  The situation has deteriorated to the extent that for two years now, our Diocese has been spending nothing less than one million naira [N1m] each rainy season to do some palliative work on the road to make it a bit motorable.   Please, come to our rescue and give us a sense of belonging.

Secondly, while thanking your Excellency for the release of the first tranche of fund to Churches for the renovation and reconstruction of primary schools returned to Church Missions, I want to passionately appeal to you to remove every bureaucratic bottlenecks artificially put in place by ASUBEB to scuttle easy assess to the fund, by releasing another tranche.  The money released to those involved has been used for the purpose judiciously and retired properly as demanded. The continual

                                                                        32

withholding of such fund is dangerously affecting and negating the essence of the return of the schools to the Church.

GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION:

No doubt the stage is set; the atmosphere is getting charged, political permutations and Arithmetic are in top gear.  Candidates both serious and laughable ones are hoisting their bill boards everywhere.  But the simple question beckoning for answer from both the candidates and electorates is: What do they want? Secondly, what do they need?  Must every rich man in Anambra state end up being the governor of the state?  Is wealth synonymous with leadership and governance?  Does it really follow that financial buoyancy bequeaths intellectual buoyancy and administrative proficiency on the rich?  I don't think so.  God in His infinite wisdom and majesty has endowed men variously and variedly.  The greatest asset and costliest commodity any leader should posses not in depletable proportion is practical and implementable ideas with which he will work unimpeded for the benefit of the masses and not his or her cronies.  The era of political brigandry is gone in Anambra state.  Likewise, the era of senseless and ruthless looting of government treasury is also buried.  What exactly am I trying to say as far as the forthcoming Governorship election is concerned in Anambra state?  Let me suggest that every voter/electorate in the forthcoming election should answer these questions as they concern all the candidates canvassing for our votes:

[a]       Who is this man coming to govern us?

[b]       What is the source of his wealth?

[c]       What type of politician is he?

[d]       Has he any leadership pedigree, and if yes, what are they?

[e]       What is his manifesto, and is he willing to defend the manifesto in a public    debate?

[f]        What is the authenticity and reliability of the education qualifications and     certificates he brandishes?

[g]       If he has held any leadership or political position, what were his            achievements, antecedents and modus operandi in that position?

[h]       What is his real political agenda for the state?

                                                                        33

[i]        Has he any covert or overt affiliation to any deity, idol or satanic shrine?

[j]        Is he a denominational bigot who will run the state in favour of one     denomination to the detriment of others?

[k]       Does he have a peaceful transparent good marriage and family?

[l]        Does this person have any noticeable fear of God, and value for human lives?

[m]     Does he believe in free and fair election?

[n]       Does he see the contest as a game or a do-or-die affair?

[o]       Is he in touch provably with the grass-root?

[p]       Does he live ostentatious and ambiguous life-style far above the masses and            the state?

[q]       What are his cardinal agenda for Education, Health care, Civil service, Youth             Empowerment and Employment, Technical and vocational training?

Even though these questions are not exhaustive, but any candidate who scores highest in the above questionnaire to my mind can deliver to the people of Anambra state.  We are not looking for a perfect man because we can never find any, but we really need to do what we are supposed to do as human beings and leave the unknown to God.  If we ever get it wrong this time around, we are heading to irrecoverable disaster and catastrophe.

Furthermore, there is a very good saying that, “The only way to keep evil on the thrive is for good men who ought to do something keep mute and refuse to do anything”.  Let every true lover of Anambra state make sure you have your genuine voter's card.  Do not sit on the fence and keep on criticizing the process and the system.

CHURCH LEADERS IN ANAMBRA STATE:

This is the moment of Truth.  Are we really ready for the truth?  Dissecting political activities and governance into denominational halves is an evil wind that will definitely blow no one any good.  The prayer of the Church should be, “Lord, let your Will be done; and Not “Lord my member must win whether he is the right person or not”.  It may interest us to know that most of the politicians have no Church agenda or righteous governance in their programme.  They only tell us what

                                                                        34

we want to hear so that they can use the Church as a bridge to across over.  It is a well known fact and Truth that the clamour for denominational inclination of candidates is caused by Roman Catholics in positions of authority and leadership who can stop at nothing in muzzling out and frustrating any person who is not their member.  This is not a hidden truth but one everybody is afraid to speak.  I know a state in this South-East where immediately a candidate of the Roman Catholic extraction won the governorship election of the state, and a group of Pastors under the aegis of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria went to congratulate him, he blatantly and boldly told them never to come to see him again unless a Reverend Father brings them to him.   No candidate from another denomination can say such a thing, and of course the man that handed over to him carried everybody along in his tenure and ensured equity, justice and fair play.

Having said that, I humbly plead with all Church denominations in Anambra state and Church leaders to pray for God's own candidate to emerge and govern our dear state.  God has warned that He will deal with any Church leader who will stand on His Way in the forthcoming election.  Let us pray and vote for him who will take Anambra state to the Promised Land.  The time to act is now. The Church in Anambra state is becoming more partisan than spiritual.  Very deadly!

INSECURITY AND CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA:

There is no need in stating the obvious that insecurity remains one of the greatest challenges facing the Nigeria Nation and the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR.  Be that as it may, the turn of events and the way and manner the Federal Government is going about it is leaving much to be desired.  The recent decision of the President to grant amnesty to the members of the Boko haram sect is still a shocker and a surprise to any right thinking Nigerian.  How on earth did the President and his advisers arrive at this decision?   Do you grant amnesty to unrepentant murderers?  Do our President and his men really know the demand of the Boko haram sect? Do you grant amnesty to criminals who have no justifiable course they are fighting for?  The demand of the sect is that they want the complete Islamization of the whole Country.  The second demand is that they don't want any Western education in Nigeria.  How can amnesty pacify such a demand?  As long as I know and can recollect, before you can offer any amnesty to any person or group of persons, it must be preceded by meaningful dialogue where their perceived grievances are laid on the table.  Anything that comes to Nigeria is sure bound to be abused including amnesty.  It was last year that the governor of a state

                                                                        35

declared that he wants to grant amnesty to kidnappers and Armed Robbers.  One of the definitions of Amnesty says, “It is a period during which the offender may admit to certain crimes or infringements without penalty”.  Has the Boko haram sect admitted that they have committed any crime in senselessly killing thousands of innocent Nigerians without any provocation?  Have they said and admitted that they have infringed on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians by denying them freedom of Religion and worship.  So what then is the basis for the hasty and in-calculative amnesty offer?  We are really sending the wrong signal to criminals and criminality.  It is more laughable if we view the offer in the light of what Chief Femi Falana said in a recent public lecture in Edo state recently.  He said, “In America, when a crime is committed, like in the Boston bombing, the President will come out openly and say, “We will get to the root of the matter, and we will arrest them; but in Nigeria when a crime is committed, our leaders will say to the criminals, “Come we will pay you”.  It is quite unfortunate.  Let our President retrace his steps and rescind this decision of granting amnesty to a faceless group of wrong thinking individuals.  Those northern leaders who are equating the activities of the Boko haram sect with that of the Niger Delta Militants are just celebrated hypocrites and pathological lies.  The Niger Delta militancy was a case and agitation based on gross environmental degradation, Deprivation and Neglect.

CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA:

This is one subject matter I do not feel comfortable talking about.  It is because it seems that the more you discuss it, the more it is slipping off our hands.  From year to year, there is no major case of convicted politicians or government contractors who commit heinous financial crimes in this country.  What baffles every sensible and morally upright Nigerian is the basis, and consideration which led our President to grant Dieprieye Alamiesegha the recent presidential pardon.  Is this not a clear and astute testimony that crimes and criminality have not only been enthroned but also legalized?  This is indeed ridiculous.  Every facet of our National life is getting neck deep into corruption and nothing tangible and practical is being done.  Recently there was an issue raised in the National Assembly about the demands and gratifications made and given before jobs are secured in the Federal civil service.  Some of our legislators were not even ashamed to state openly how they paid hundreds of thousand of naira on-behalf of their relatives to secure decent and desirable jobs for them.  As usual, they raised their voices and made their customized rowdy and traditional noise without any tangible action plan to stop the shameful development and trend.  That ends such mind-bogging and National

                                                                        36

image-tarnishing act.  What do we say about the Police Pension scam kangaroo judgment and sentence given by a highly revered Justice Abubakar Talba, an Abuja High Court Judge?  How on earth can a judge give a fine of seven hundred and fifty thousand naira [N750,000.=] only against Mr. Yusuf Yakubu who audaciously and flagrantly stole and embezzled over twenty-three billion naira Police Pension Fund belonging to men and women who have meritoriously and sacrificially served their fatherland? 

As in a very staric movie, Yusuf immediately like a hero and conqueror gladly paid the money, gave the boys in court N50,000.= and majestically entered his waiting Mercedes Benz car and sped-off to the consternation of Nigerians in court.  Thank God for the response of National Judicial Council who handed him a twelve month suspension without pay recently.  But the nagging question remains, “Have those in-charge at the helm of affairs of this matter recovered the stupendous amount stolen by Yusuf Yakubu”?  Corruption is deeply inflicting a fatal blow to the growth and development of our dear country, draining public resources and driving more people to the poverty fringe and threshold.  I want to beseech and charge our President, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to rise and give a fatal bite and practical approach to corruption at all levels in Nigeria.  This is the only thing that will convince both Nigerians and the International community that the much orchestrated transformation agenda is not another beautiful but factless political gimmick.

THE SYNOD THEME:

By the special Grace of God, since the inception of this Diocese, we have been seeking the face of the Almighty God for our Synod theme each year.  Last year, we looked into the Theme, “GIVING: The Blessings; The Challenges; and The Opportunities” [Genesis 22:1 – 18].  The theme was aimed at realigning the attitude and activities of Christians as far as giving to God is concerned.  This year, the theme of our Synod is, “True Worship and True Worshippers of God” [John 4:23 – 24].

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN:

John 21:20, 24 declare that this Gospel was penned down by “the disciple who Jesus loved”.  The question in minds and mouths of Bible scholars has been, “Who is this beloved disciple”?  The data from the book itself point to five conclusions:

1.        The writer must be a Jew.  His peculiar Greek style may be traced to the        

                                                                        37

            difficulty of translating his native Hebrew taught into written Greek.  He is    familiar with the Old Testament [19:24, 28, 36, 37] and conversant with        Jewish lifestyle [2:6; 2:35; 18:28; 19:31].

2.        The writer is a first century Palestinian Jew.  This is evidenced in his      acquaintance with the first century religious and political scenes, and from his    knowledge of Palestinian topography [1:28; 3:23; 11:18; 18:1; 19:30; etc].

3.        The writer is an eye-witness of Christ [1:39; 2:6; 12:1; 21:8].

4.        The writer is an apostle [2:11; 4:27; 11:54; 20:25].

5.        The writer is one of Jesus' closest associates and he is identified as, “the         disciple who Jesus loved” [13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7]. 

It is therefore very logical and natural to seek the writer among the three comprising the inner circle – Peter, James, and John.  Peter is ruled out because he is customarily named in the Gospel.  James is also eliminated because he was martyred earlier.  This leaves John standing and as such it is concluded that John is the author of this Gospel. 

Church tradition presents the most satisfactory dating of the book as A.D 80 – 95.  It was a time when those outside the cultural and religious centre of Palestine were seeking evidence upon which to base their Faith; the true identity of the Messiah, and the acceptable mode of worship.  John also wrote in order to give a defense of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God.  Though the systematic theology of Gnosticism was not formalized and fully established until the first part of the 2nd century, various concepts of what would later consolidate and metamorphose into Gnostic theology were finding their way into Christian thought during the middle and later half of the first century.  In his Gospel and epistles especially the letters of first, second and third John, the writer deals with the fundamental principles of Gnosticism and False worship or belief. 

The great influx of Gentiles into the Church who came out of the background of Gnostic concepts and Samaritan Syncretism brought into the Jewish monotheistic Yahweh worship, and pure Christian living the beginnings of great heresies and contaminated worship that would eventually take much of the Church into apostasy in the second century.  The Holy Spirit foreknew the second century apostasy.  He thus has this document of defense penned down in order to guard the Church against such and also give faithful believers a defense with which to stand against

                                                                        38

those who would deny the deity of Jesus and the true nature of God in worship.  Since John wrote for this purpose, this Gospel is a very relevant document to be used to defend the validity of Christianity, and the true nature of the Christian worship and Service.

OUR BIBLE TEXT AND OUR THEME:

JOHN 4:19 – 24.

            The woman said to Him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 

            “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain and you Jews say

            that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship”. 

            Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when

            You will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem worship the

            Father”.  “You worship what you do not know; we worship what     

            We know, for Salvation is of the Jews.  “But the hour is coming,

            and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father

            in Spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”.

            “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit

             and truth”

TRUE WORSHIP AND TRUE WORSHIPPERS:

Jesus by this act and encounter with a Samaritan woman in our Bible text is taking the disciples out of their Cultural environment into the land of those who were despised by the Jews.  Jews normally travelled the longer route, crossing over to the east side of the Jordan to display their antagonism and disdain against the Samaritans.  Upset by the northern Kingdom's defection to Egypt in 722 B.C, Sargon destroyed Samaria, the capital, carried her inhabitants to Assyria, and replaced them with foreigners who integrated with the remnant [2 Kings 17:6, 24; 18:10].  In time the monotheism of Israel became grossly infiltrated and contaminated through a group of people produced by a mixture of religious and racial inter-marriage known as the Samaritans.  The southern Kingdom on return from captivity refused to accept

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any assistance from Samaria in rebuilding the Temple [Ezra 4].  Sanballat who was the governor of Samaria built a temple on mountain Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem.  It was on this site that Jesus was discussing with the woman.

From Jesus' discussion with the woman, we can carefully discover false worship and contrast it with True worship of God.  Firstly, the woman was well-acquainted with the religious history and provisions of worshipping God, yet she did not know the Messiah through whom to approach the God she assumed to be worshipping.  This is false worship of God.  Many people in the Church fall within this category of worshippers.  They know every detail of Church history, liturgy and observances, but they have never met the Saviour, Redeemer and Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  True worship begins when the worshippers have personally encountered the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender fully to His Lordship and Rulership [John 1:12; John 3:3 – 8].  True worship starts when a person sincerely accepts his/her sinful lifestyle, confesses same and repents genuinely from such and begins a new life pattern.  Hear what the women said in vs. 17,

             “The woman answered and said, “I have no husband”.

             Jesus said to her, “You have well said, “I have no husband;                                         for you have had five husbands [sin partners and concubines],                         and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that                                              you spoke truly” [vs. 18].

The implication of this is that this woman was physically involved in all the temple observances and worship but inwardly and spiritually she was morally bankrupt and spiritually decayed.  She was living in spiritual bondage of sin.  She has never experienced the deliverance, freedom, joy and victory that true worship brings in the life of the true worshipper.  She was singing the Lord's song in a strange land.  She has a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.  The power of true worship is in the ability of the worshipper to live above sin and the flesh.  Looking inside our various Church denominations today, majority of the worshippers in these Churches are replica of this Samaritan woman.  Professors of Christianity who are never practitioners of Christianity fill everywhere.  At this point, can we ask, “WHAT IS WORSHIP”?

Worship means adoration, glorification, exaltation and idolization paid fully to a deity; in this case the Almighty God.  It is also the act of adoring and revering.  Worship also means to be loyal to God without any form of reservation. 

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True worship therefore, is serving and following God through Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, sacrificially, committedly and even foolishly.  In true worship, God takes the initiative and precedence.  That is exactly why the writer of Hebrews said in Chapter 12:1 – 2:

             “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud

            of witness,   let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which

             so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance and patience

            the race that is set before us, looking unto JESUS, THE AUTHOR,

             AND FINISHER of our faith, …”. 

The Author and finisher here means the architect, the initiator, the director, the pacesetter and the consummator and finalizer of the worship we render to God.  For a better and implementable understanding of our theme, let us consider it in the light of the following dimensions:

GOD IS SPIRIT:  First of all, let us note here that Jesus never said “God is a Spirit”, rather “God is Spirit”.  The import and emphasis lies on Spirit as God's essence.  God is free from the limitations of time and space, cultural location, status and imagery representation or augmentation.  No idols, objects or images need assist us in worship as we see today in various forms and patterns.  Today some worshippers carry images they have christened in a way as against what is written in Exodus 20:1, 4 & 5: “And God spoke all these words saying, “You shall not make for

             yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in

            heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the

            water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor

            serve them.  For I the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

            visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the                                         third and fourth generations of those who hate me”.

It is as serious as that. Some others who don't carry images in worshipping God have resorted to praying to God with various kinds of objects like olive oil, mustard seed, black stone, miracle handkerchief or apron, crude oil, Jerusalem fertility stone, etc.  If we really know and understand God as Spirit, do we need physical objects to

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approach him?  Since God is Spirit, then those who worship Him cannot do that through material means.  True worshippers approach God on a spiritual basis.  The spiritual worship of God starts from the heart which manifests in a renewed and regenerated life pattern observable by men. God as Spirit is omnipresent. He is everywhere at all times.  He is not confined to any location or building.

TRUE WORSHIP AND LIBERALISM IN WORSHIP:

Liberalism simply put means, free from restraint.  In other words, everything is allowed and accepted.  Many people have confused Christian liberty with liberalism.   Liberty means free from slavery and captivity.  Galatians 5:13 captures the distinction thus, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use your liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another”.  Paul is simply saying here that Christians who want to offer true worship to God should not allow their deliverance from man-made rules and sin to graduate into unbridled life style which has no control.  True worship abhors liberalism which is becoming predominantly acceptable way of worship among many Christians and Christian denominations in this age.  There is now no boundary to how a Christian should dress; how a Christian should conduct his/her business; the type of music a Christian should both play and listen to. 

At this juncture, let us reconsider the warning and words of Jesus Christ our Lord in Matthew 7:13 – 14;

            “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the

            way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

             Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads

            to life, and there are few who find it”.

The apostle Paul presents it this way in 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27,

             “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one                                receives the Prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.                              And any one who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.                                 Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we an imperishable                       crown. Therefore, I run thus not with uncertainty; Thus I fight: not                             as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into                subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should                    become disqualified”. 

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God is God of discipline, order, principles and pattern. Everything-goes type of worship cannot qualify as a true worshipper.  Today, emotion, noise and sentiment have taken over our spiritual and true worship.  Today, because of liberalism, modern male preachers wear earrings, have dreadlock hairs, plait their hairs, use comedians in Church programs, invite hip-up, Makosa, Reggae, Rock, Jazz musicians in crusades and Churches just to draw crowd, entertain sinners and promise them goodies if they come to Jesus.  When you hear some preachers tell chronic and habitual sinners that “God will bless you any how anywhere”, what do you think they are saying?  Live your life anyhow and God will still bless you. The time to echo and re-echo it from all pulpits and even roof tops that “God is holy, and those who will worship him must do that in holiness and righteousness” [1 Peter 1:15 – 16].  Liberalism is one of the greatest dangers and challenge the 21st century Church is facing in trying to institute true worship.  We are in this spiritual quagmire today in the Church in America, Europe and even Africa about the sinfulness or otherwise of homosexualism, Gay marriage, Same sex marriage, Divorce, Femininizing God in the Holy Bible and a host of very atrocious issues just because true worship was sacrificed on the altar of liberalism and human right activism in Church.  Be that as it may, this is the stand of God,

             “Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands sure,

            having this inscription, and seal, “The Lord knows those who

            are his, and let everyone who names the name of Christ depart

            from iniquity [2 Timothy 2:19].

TRUE WORSHIP, VERSUS OBNOXIOUS CULTURE AND TRADITION:

Culture in its strictest definition is the generally accepted and legalized way of life, customs, habits and behavior of a group of people in the society.  Tradition is people's accepted belief, ceremony, practice, rites, institutions, folklore and custom which are not contrary to the law of the state or country and not injurious to other people's existence and rights.  Ordinarily, nobody is against the Culture of his/her people.  But in the light of true worship of God, God sifts and authenticates every culture and tradition.  Right from the Old Testament to time of Jesus, there has always been a running battle between true worship of God and some obnoxious Cultures and Traditions.  Not all cultures and traditions are bad and anti-Christian.

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The great problem has been distinguishing between true and real culture and idolatry.  In Matthew 15:1-3, Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes had a very unsavory conflict because of tradition – Thus:    

             “Then the scribes and the Pharisees who were from Jerusalem

            came to Jesus saying, “Why do your disciples transgress the

            tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands

            when they eat bread”.  He answered and said to them,

            “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God

            because of your tradition”? 

Any culture or tradition of men that runs contrary to the Word of God must not only be rejected but jettisoned.  If Jesus can set aside their tradition of washing hands before eating, which is a very decent one just because it runs into conflict with the standard and demand of God, how do we still have great problems today in properly handling a lot of idolatrous things done today by Church members in the name of culture?  In the act of true worship, one has to boldly declare his/her stand in so many issues of culture.  In our society today, it is “Christians” who are the sponsors of all kinds of masquerades and masquerading.  Our rich members are neck deep into this idolatrous activity. Masquerade right from time has never been our culture or tradition ab nitio.  Syncretic worship instead of true worship has made us to remain hypocritically silent in the face of this ugly development.  Infact, most of the things we call cultural revival today are nothing short of idolatrous revival.  Some of our accepted and wonderful cultures and traditions include: Respect for elders and the elderly, proper and decent dress code, communal child up-bringing, condemning and dealing with armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder as abominations, discipline and hard work, traditional rulers residing within their communities, wives of traditional rulers dressing properly and being cultural acquainted, proper mourning of our dead ones instead of turning burial into celebration and wearing of assorted uniforms, and throwing caskets containing the remains of loved dead ones up and down along the main road with accompanying mockery and dance steps.  These are some of our rich cultures.  The Church is God's agent for sanitizing culture and tradition to fall within God's approved standard and worship.  True worship should accept and promote cultures which are not inimical to Christian belief, Word of God and Christian practices.  Jesus Christ still confronting the Pharisees on the same issues on tradition said in Mark 7:6 – 9,

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            “He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of

             you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honours Me with

             their lips, but their heart is far from Me, teaching as doctrine

             the commandment of men.  “For laying aside the commandment

             of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers

            and cups, and many other such things you do.  He said to them,

            “All too well you reject the commandment of God,  that you may

            keep your tradition”.

This is exactly the sate of things in our Churches today.  Those who profess to be Christians want at the same time to partake and be actively involved in all forms of obnoxious traditions and pagan practices.  This can never be true worship, and those doing so are not and cannot be true worshippers of God.

THE RESULT OF TRUE WORSHIP TO TRUE WORSHIPPERS:

True worship simply means worshipping God the way God wants to be worshipped, and not our own convenient way.  It also means serving and honouring God without living in or harbouring sin.  True worship is devoid of hypocrisy, double-standard and syncretism.  It is also living in awe of God at all times and in all places.  When we worship God in Spirit and in truth, the result is always very glorious.  First of all, it brings down the Presence and Glory of God to His people.  It also results in experiencing God and His powerful manifestation to the true worshippers in their lives and circumstances.  When the Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple”; what was he saying?  Read 2 Chronicles chapter 26, and you discover that before this time, the Glory and presence of God was driven away by the false worship and sacrifice offered by King Uzziah.  As he became leprous inside the altar, the presence departed from the Temple.  How are we sure that the Glory of God has not departed from many Churches because of false and contaminated worship which emanates from our contaminated lives.  When there is true worship, sin and sinners are exposed [Acts 5:1 – 11]. True worship attracts people to the true worshipper and they are converted. True worship releases great miracles to the worshippers without struggling or paying for it [Math. 6:33]. 

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True worship restores true and Biblical sound teaching in the Church.  True worship makes the Church and her members relevant to the family and society.  True worship rejects the pattern of the world in everything and sticks to God's pattern.  This in turn causes genuine repentance and conversion.  True worship makes the true worshippers to focus on things that have eternal value, and prepare themselves for the coming of the kingdom of God.

Dear people of God, there is no alternative to true worship. God must be worshipped His own way. The time to go back to true worship of God which is devoid of empty ceremonies, frivolous rituals, and emotional noise-making is now.  Delay has become dangerous.  The greatest undoing of today's Christians and Church is false and unacceptable worship.  Do we want to experience God again in our lives and Churches?  Do we want to see true revival burst in our midst?  Do we need miracles and manifestation of God's power as of old in our lives and Churches?  Do we want sinners, kidnappers and armed robbers to fear and respect the Church and God?  Do we want God to take over the battle in Nigeria engineered by Boko haram?  True worship and true worshippers is the answer.  Let us heed the instruction of God in Jeremiah 6:16,

            “Thus says the Lord, “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for

             the old paths, where the good way is, And Walk in it; Then you

             will find rest for your souls; But they said, “we will not walk in it”.

Jesus said to her,

             “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers

            will worship the Father in Spirit and truth: For the Father is seeking

             such [worshippers] to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who

             worship Him MUST worship in spirit and truth” [John 4:23 & 24].

 

CONCLUSION:

As I conclude this address which I know is far from being exhaustive, may I use this opportunity to appreciate all who have partnered with us in this Synod year that kept the Diocese afloat and moving despite all odds.  All my Priests and their wives deserve special commendation for being very supportive.  God bless you. 

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Let me thank the members of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Amichi for demonstrating uncommon commitment to see that the Synod is hosted in a very colourful and successful manner.  Let me specifically thank Chief Dr. Chidi Anyaegbu, MFR, GMD, CHISCO Group of Companies for taking up the challenge we put to him by undertaking to sponsor more than 80% of this Church building we are in today.  Chief Jonathan Ekeneme who challenged God that he will sponsor the roofing of the Church with long span Aluminium roofing sheet even when the daughter was kidnapped in 2011.  Sir Joe Atuchukwu and all the Atuchukwu's, we don't know how to appreciate you.  Special mention must be made of Chief Iyke Okafor, Sir Anselm Ezike, Hon. B.C. Aniagboso and many of you I cannot mention here for want of space and time constraint.  All the members of Local Organizing Committee and Diocesan Synod planning Committee. God bless all of you.  May I appreciate a man who delights in putting smiles on the faces of the priests without making noise about it – Sir Dr. & Dr. Lady U.C. Nzewi for providing a car for us to give to any priest of our choice in the Diocese during our last ordination in December, 2012.  We will continue to appreciate Sir & Lady Michael Agazie for what he is doing at St. Peter's Church, Akabu-Osumenyi.

Let me now specially appreciate my wife, friend, companion, confidant and encourager, Dame Nkem Ikeakor for creating a very wonderful conducive environment at home for me to operate optimally.  God will definitely bless you beyond your imagination.

I want to remind us as a final charge that True Worshippers take care of their Priests and Pastors in all ramifications.  May God bless all of you abundantly for listening actively, and attentively.

 

Your Bishop and Friend,

+ Ephraim, Amichi

8th June, 2013.

 

 

 

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