DIOCESE OF AMICHI
PROVIDENCE OF THE NIGER
2009 SYNOD PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS
DELIVERED BY HIS LORDSHIP
THE RT. REVD. EPHRAIM O. IKEAKOR (JP)
BISHOP, DIOCESE OF AMICHI
ST. STEPHEN'S ANGLICAN CHURCH,
OSUMENYI, NNEW-SOUTH L.G.A.,
ON FRIDAY, 12TH JUNE, 2009
“CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE” (JOSHUA 24:15)
THE BISHOP'S CHARGE PRESENTED TO THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIRST SYNOD.
Your Excellency, the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi,
Your Excellency, the former Governor of Ebonyi State, and Honorable Minister for Education & Wife; Dr. Sam and Mrs Eunice Ukamaka Egwu JP;
Your Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi, State, Elder Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, and wife;
Your Graces and my Lords,
The Honourable Chancellor, and other legal luminaries,
The President of the Mother's Union, Women's Guild and Girls' Guild, Mrs Nkem Ikeakor;
Your Royal Highnesses;
Archdeacons, Canons, and other Clergymen;
Gallant Knights and Ladies;
Distinguished Synod Delegates;
Members of the Press;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dearly Cherished People of God,
It is with a gladsome heart that I warmly welcome all of you to this first session of the First Synod of the Young Diocese of Amichi holding at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi in Nnewi-South LGA of Anambra State. Our gathering here this weekend as members of Diocese of Amichi is a great and marvelous miracle of God. No one thought by this time last year that what we are witnessing today could be possible at least in less than one year. This is truly the Lord's doing and definitely it is not only marvelous but awesome in our sight.
I must not fail to use this ample opportunity to thank immensely all the people that contributed in one form of the other in making this vision a reality. The good Lord in whose vineyard you have laboured and are still labouring will definitely and graciously reward ad replenish you fully in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. For the word of God asserts that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The apostle Paul clearly states in the scripture that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The election of the Bishop of Amichi Diocese took place on 12th November, 2008. He was consecrated with other twelve Bishops on the 11th of January, 2009, while the inauguration of the Diocese took place on the 13th of January, 2009 alongside the enthronement of the Pioneer Bishop at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi.
VENUE OF THE SYNOD
Geographically, Osumenyi is the largest town in what is popularly known as Mbanese clan. The clan is made up of five towns namely – Osumenyi; Ezinifite, Utu, Ebenator and Akwaihedi. Osumenyi is in the centre of the clan. She shares boundary lines with each of the other four towns.
Three other towns which share boundaries with her are in Ugwuochi clan. They are Amichi on the northern part, Ekwulumili and Unubi on the eastern side. According to history, Osumenyi and Amichi have blood relationship. Mbanese clan is part of Mbanesi clan. Osumenyi is accessible from ‘all' corners. It is some thirty-five kilometers from Onisha through Nnewi, less than thirty-two kilometers to Awka through Igboukwu; about eight kilometers to Uga in Aguata Local Government Area.
The town is relatively rich in agricultural products. Before the advent of Christianity, eating of cassava was an abomination in the town. Today Osumenyi is still famous for some cash crops notably cola-nuts, coconuts, bitter kola, local pear, pamnuts and mats.
THE ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY:
Before the coming of Christianity to Osumenyi, there were many social activities which the people enjoyed but they were all connected with the worship of the gods of the town – eke, uduagu, ulasi, nkpukpa, ogwugwu etc. on such occasion, the paths leading to the idols premises, which were usually surrounded with forests, were cleaned. Various domestic animals, notable fowls, goats and sometimes cows were sacrificed. And people assembled at the shrine to eat, drink and dance in honour of the god. Some of these feasts lasted up to a week. There were other feasts which were cultural in nature but were still connected with the gods. These included the new yam festival, title-taking ceremonies, “afia olu” feast otherwise called “ito ji”, outing ceremonies of new born children and ‘asara' feast celebrated once in every twenty years.
Another big evil was that directed against mothers of twins and their babies. It was a terrible abomination for a woman to give birth to more than a child in a pregnancy. As we have tried to show above, the period before the light of Christianity came into Osumenyi was one of complete darkness which was visible in every aspect of the lives of the people. It was a time of mass belief in, and worship of idols, images, nature objects such as hills, rivers, streams, markets, forests, trees; a time of belief in the absolute sacredness of the python and a number of other animals. It was also a period of mass belief in the power of black magic, juju and witchcraft, and these were freely applied in many social engagements such as in wresting and masquerading.
The first attempt to bring Christianity to Osumenyi was made in 1990 when a group of missionaries led by Mr. Isaac Enekebe of Obosi visited the town for the sole purpose of “planting the Gospel”. This first missionary expedition failed due to lack of interest of the people of the town at that time.
Two years later in 1912, Mr. Gideon Chidi Ugha of Ogbunike led in another group of missionaries. He preached to three hundred people. A prominent ozo tilted man in Osumenyi called Ezike Mkparu offered one of his youngest sons called Obidike Mkparu to the missionaries to join them. Obidike was later baptized and christened Micah. The preacher (Gideon), who was also a teacher stationed at Umuhu in Ukpor town, some eight kilometers away, took Micah as a house boy. The seed soon multiplied. The first convert, Micah, with enthusiasm, learnt ‘wonders' – reading, writing, keeping records, of events and accounts. He returned in 1913 and between that and the following year 1914, other youths of the town, who he had surprised with what he learnt, became immediately attracted and were converted. And before the end of 1915 many young people had become Christians. They were many and included:- Moses Umeohizu Mkparu; David Ezikeanaekwe Mkparu; John Iwuora Umeike; Edward Umeodinibe Nnoli ( who forsook the ozo title ceremony he was undergoing); Aguwue Nwosu; Uduchukwu Agazie; Timothy Obidiek (who was also undergoing ozo tilte taking); Sherack Okoli Odukwe; Simon Onwuka Egbeigwe; Daniel Ugbaja Egbeigwe; Paul Umeakunehi Oguine; James Iwekanna Ibekwe Aguocha; Jacob Chukwura Okeke; Julius Odimako Oguine; Jonathan Udebuana Maduaguwuo; Onuabumuo Ndeogurumee; Elijah Ereodi Omaram, Josiah Nwobi Udeogu; Aaron Obijadi Ibeabuchi, Ohizu Udeogu, Charles Onyebuchukwu Umejesi, Gabriel Okafor Oguazu, Andrew Ahizechi Ekemezie, Michael Nwokafor Onwusie; Ezikeudeonicha Umeeweraku; Ezikeakaniru Oha – amasi; Jonah Nnaeto Nanago; Nehemiah Nomlelee Alajuruonye; Ezike Amarakwe; Michael Eleofor Unigwe; Stephen Imocha Ibeafu; Peter Okafor Ejeagwu, Matthew Nwosuafor Udegou; Simeon Umeagugoesi Onyereri; Samuel Nwosuocha Okutalukwe; George Okoli Ojinulo; Job Umeochutereboi Ojinulo; Elijah Okoli Onwuekwue, Isaiah Ezikeiheanyiobi Oguine; Isreal Nwosueriri Nwegbe; Matthias Ohaezue Madujibei; Jeremiah Ubaezuonu Agazie; Philip Obiakwana Igboanu; Isaac Onwuanasi Obi Nwaka; Eleazar Ihezuruoha Emsiofo; Hezekiah Nwokemodo Okonkwo; Thomas Chukwudolue Ogamba; Joseph Ndedigwe Okafor; Ejike; Joshua Onyeanusi Madujibeya; Michael Ibeh; Mmogonkwo Obidike (Dora);
The new converts were at men only. The first batch of women in the town to be converted included: (a) Janet Abuego Odukwe; (b) Helen Onyegwaforom Ojiulo; (c) Ajukwaku Agazie, (d) Mgbafor Umenwa (e) Monica Onuwan Oguine; and (f) Apiti-aku Ejike.
Some of the people were taught alphabet letters and how to read Azundu book. By 1916, they had formed the foundation members of the church. They started to attend church services at St. Andrew's Church, Amichi under late Mr. Theophilus Okoloama of Ozobulu, a journey of about six kilometers away. Later in the year, they applied for a church to be stationed at Osumenyi and they were obliged. The Christians in Amichi encouraged by the favourabe reply of the church authorities helped the converts from Osumenyi to explore the possibility of securing a site at any corner in Osumenyi for erecting church buildings.
When the team of missionaries came to the chief of the town, he showed them the ‘bad bush' at Oma-igwe, feeling that they would reject it, with faith, they accepted and cleared the place. They erected their church building thereafter, which was named St. Stephen's church, Osumenyi. Their first church-teacher was Mr. Reuben Maduekwe from Oraifite.
An unfortunate influenza of 1918 affected the church at Osumeanyi very badly. A lot of people died of this dreadful disease in many town, but the chief of Osumenyi and other unbelievers alleged that it was caused by the Christians who introduced the eating of cassava in the town. They opined that the introduction and eating of cassava has provoked the anger of their gods Uduagu and Eke. So the idols had smitten their people with the influenza.
In other to abolish with the church and cassava, they set the church ablaze during the night and uprooted all the cassava planted by the Christians. The courageous foundation Christians took the chief and the people to court at Onitsha. The chief was found guilty and fined six pounds but the church pleaded for the chief's pardon. The church was then authorized to carry out their legitimate functions and planting of cassava without any further molestations. These foundation Christians were baptised in 1920 at St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi. Mr. Micah Mkparu and his wife Jeminah were the first couple to wed in the church.
In 1924, the burnt church was rebuilt under the church-teacher Mr. Edward Nwasike, Mr Micah Mkparu donated the first lectern for the church. In 1925, Mr John Umeike single-handedly killed a leopard that was menacing the whole town at that time. The first school for both Amichi and Osumenyi was established at Aguinyi in Osumenyi because it was at the centre of the two towns. The church at Osumenyi continued to grow very well.
In 1964, Osumenyi Parish was raised to District status under Revd. Joel Chidebelu. Archbishop C.J. Patterson assisted by Rt. Revd. L.M. Uzodike inaugurated the District on 13th March, 1965. in 1972, a motion was moved by Mr now Sir A.I. Oguine (of blessed memory) that a new modern church be built to replace the old but small stone church. The motion was debated and later adopted. The first fund raising for the new church building was done in 1974, and the total sum of seventeen thousand naira only (N17,000) was realized which was a very huge amount of money then. The big names among the donors in the launching included-
Mr. Abraham Oguine – N2,000.0
Mr. Godson Oguine – N1,000.00
Mr. Michael Agazie – N1,000.00
Mr. Nathan Oguine – N1,000.00
Subsequent launchings were organized and more and more people donated sacrificially and this modern church building hosting this Synod was built and dedicated on 4th April, 1983 by the Rt. Revd. Dr. J.A. Onyemelukwe (now most Reverend), the retired Archbishop of Province II, Dean of the church of Nigeria, and Bishop on the Niger.
In 1986, they started building the Synod hall when they were informed that they would host the Synod on the Niger Diocesan Synod in June, 1988. They were able to deck the hall and actually hosted the first Synod in it. The Synod hall had not only hosted on the Niger Diocesan Synod but also Nnewi Diocesan Synod in 2001. Today the Synod Hall is hosting the first session of the first Synod of the Diocese of Amichi. This is really his torical.
The women must be mentioned here as a force to reckon with in the development of the Parish. Apart from their individual contributions towards the building of the church. They established a viable Nursery school named Christ Omaigwe Nursery School, Osumenyi. They also equipped the Boy's and Girl's Brigade by donating a complete Marching Brass Band set to them in 1989. the AYF at the same time launched their new Gospel Band.
In 1996, when the new Diocese of Nnewi was created St. Stephen's Parish was one of the Parishes that was elevated to Archdeacomy status. Ven. O.A. Oguchi was the first Archdeacon. Ven. I.N. Ekeyi was the second Archdeacon. Ven. J.Ok Obi was the third while Ven. E.C. Ezumezu was the fourth Archdeacon. The present Archdeacon, Ven. E.C. Nnoli is the fifth Archdeacon on the line. In 1997, late Sir L.O. Agazie donated a water borehole to St. Stephen's church, Osumenyi. Three other churches were planted in the Parish that year namely –St. Peter's Church Akabu which was build and dedicated under three months in1999 with the help of late Sir. L.O. Agazie; All Saints Church Obiofia, and Christ Church Odikpi. These churches have clergymen posted to them, while St. Peter's Akabu has become a Parish. It is worthy of note and mention that a multi-million naira ultra modern parsonage was single-handedly built and donated to St. Stephen's Church Osumenyi by High Chief Sir S. Ukachukwu in 2007. This Synod is being hosted by St. Stephen's Parish which comprises of St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi, All Saints Church, Obiofia, and Christ Church Odikpi. We congratulate them for the good job being done.
We whole-heartedly congratulate St. Stephen's Parish Osumenyi for accepting to host this first session of the first Synod of the Diocese of Amichi. May God continue to bless you.
AMICHI DIOCESE – THE JOURNEY SO FAR.
Our new Diocese was inaugurated on the 13th of January, 2009 at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi by His Grace, The Most Revd Peter Jasper Akinola; The Primate, and Metropolitan of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, in the presence of thirty six other Bishops. Also the Pioneer Bishop in the person of the Rt. Revd Ephraim Okechukwu Ikeakor JP was enthroned. It was a very glorious and colourful occasion which saw the joyous convergence of people from all works of life. At this point, we want heartily congratulate and appreciate all the good and great people of this Diocese for their doggedness, determination, and vision in pursing to a logical and fruitful conclusion the creation and inauguration of this Young but Great Diocese. It was not an easy journey at all because I know that it took you people a lot of sleepless nights and material fortunes to make this a reality. In whatever capacity each and everyone of you has contributed in realizing this laudable dream, the Good Lord whom you have laboured and are still labouring in his vineyard will graciously and abundantly rewad and replenish you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
We also want to appreciate our father in the Lord, The Rt. Revd Dr. G.I.N. Okpala JP for his large heartedness in making sure that the Diocese of Amichi was created out of Nnewi Diocese for very effective Evangelisation and more grassroot missionary endeavour.
OUR MOTTO: After a very prayerful waiting on God, the motto of this Diocese was given to us as –JESUS CHRIST -OUR SURE ANCHOR. God had assured us that if this Diocese will be built and anchored on the Lord and Saviour of the Church, JESUS CHRIST, He will take us to a height where others will say “let us go to Amichi Diocese and inquire of the Lord and His ways. Through very careful and solemn meditation, we were meant to understand that the only way we can do this and achieved it is by exalting the word of God – the Holy Bible far above every human-being and traditions of men. Therefore, based on the foregoing encounter, we wish to state clearly and categorically that THE FIRST CONSTITUTION OF THIS DIOCESE IS THE BIBLE. By implication, we are making it clear to this first session of the first Synod of the Diocese of Amichi (Anglican Communion) that any tradition, way of doing things, and doctrine that don't agree with the Word of God must not be accepted in this Diocese not minding how long such a practice, dogma or tradition had been in existence and practice. This is why are vehemently affirm that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God (people of God) may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16 & 17). ON THIS WE STAND!
OUR LOGO: This stands as a symbol for which the Diocese is known. It is made up of a crest, crowned at the apex with a mitre. This crest is divided into four parts with specific and very meaningful ecclesiastical and liturgical symbols thus:-
CROSS: This is the centre, focus and symbol of our Christian faith. On it and through it our Saviour secured our salvation and redemption.
DOVE: This ordinanly symbolizes peace, and appearing of the Holy Spirit. The dove is not the Holy Spirit but just symbolic because of what happened at Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:16)
THE BIBLE: This as I have said is the basis and pillar of this Diocese. It is either the word of God or nothing else.
HOE, CUTLASS, AND PALM TREE: This signifies the agricultural inclination of the dominant population of the Diocese. The vast majority of the populace are mainly farmers, and they engage in subsistence farming.
According to the scripture, where there is no vision, the people perish. Furthermore, any man, organization or nation without clear vision is like a ship having no rudder which will definitely move aimlessly and without any direction to a particular destination. In order to escape the enormous dangers of operating or running a Diocese without a focus, we have by the special grace of God prayerful articulated what we can refer to as the vision statement of this Diocese which shall definitely be our operational and missionary guidelines and focus. Before we put down this vision statement, may I at this juncture submit that we must not do everything in one or two years. Again, the vision statement will be coming in chunk's so as to enable us to avoid cutting more than we can chew. They may not be as comprehensive as you think, but the truth still remains that we must start somewhere.
Some of these visions include:
To build a Diocese where God and the word of God (the Bible) take preeminence and precedence over and above every other practice and tradition.
To build a Diocese where the Bishop and wife, clergymen and their wives, and other church workers and leaders teach and lead our parishioners by practical example of genuine Christian living.
To have a Diocese where Christian Discipleship, Bible based Doctrines and Dogmas as emphasized as against the utility Gospel and lotto Christianity that is very prevalent now.
To build a Diocese where the welfare of our members especially the Youths, widows, orphans are given adequate attention and Youth ministry highly developed to ensure youth participation in our church worship.
To build a Diocese where some rich Anglican heritages and traditions which have been lost because of unnecessary and unwarranted emulation of other denominations will be recovered.
To have a Diocese that preaches the wholistic Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the Education; and Healthcare.
To build a Diocese where the zeal and commitment to Evangelism and soul-winning is reawakened, and sustained in both the clergy and laity.
To have a Diocese that will be self-sustaining financial through meaningful and concrete investments.
MEETINGS, RETREATS AND APPOINTMENTS
After the inauguration of the Diocese on the 13th of January, 2009, the bishop immediately started having series of meetings and retreats in order to set up the necessary and required machineries for the effective running of the Diocese. On the 15th of the same January, 2009, the first meeting with all the clergymen and their wives was held at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi. The Bishop after the opening devotions asked the clergy and their wives to suggest the type of Diocese and administrative pattern they would like us to have and operate. In response to clergy expressed their profound gratitude to the Bishop and his wife for such an opportunity to be part and parcel of the running of the Diocese. After protracted and open-hearted deliberation, we were able to outline the following as the pattern and form our Diocese should take:-
A Diocese where the spirituality of the clergy and his wife should be a model for our church members.
A Diocese where the Bishop, Priests and their wives will not be dictators or autocratic rulers but shepherds of the flock of Christ, committed to their charge.
A Diocese in which mud-slinging, character assassination, hatred, or sycophancy will not be tolerated at all.
A Diocese where materialism, covetousness, and worldliness will never be given a place or opportunity to thrive among the church workers.
A Diocese where the welfare of both the clergy and church members will not be joked with or handed carelessly.
A similar meeting with all catechists, church-teachers and Evangelists and their wives were convened by the Bishop on 23rd January, 2009 at the Cathedral. On the 24th of January, 2009, all parochial church committee members of all churches in the Diocese, with Executive committee members of all Organization and arms in the churches in this Diocese had a very special retreat in the Cathedral, which to me was very relevant and crucial because turning the questions and answers session, so many important issues were raised which have also helped the Bishop in no small measure in knowing the state of things in both the churches and towns in the Diocese. The clerks were not left out of this consultative meetings because their own meeting with the Bishop took place on 22nd of January, 2009 at the same Cathedral.
Our first Diocesan Board meeting was held on Tuesday 17th February, 2009 at the Cathedral church of St. Andrew Amichi. It was in that Diocesan Board that it was resolved that the first session of the first Synod of this Diocese will hold at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Osumenyi. The Bishop made some appointments in the Board so as to properly kick-start the proper administrative running of our young Diocese. The appointments include:-
Hon. Justice Gloria C. Anulude – Chancellor of the Diocese
Hon. V.N. Umeh - Deputy Chancellor
Barr. Sir Daniel Ibeh – Registrar
Revd. Canon Sunday Uzoabaka –Clerical Synod Secretary
Hon. Sir E.M.C. Okeke – Lay Synod Secretary
Ven. E.C. Nnoli – Administrative sec/assistant to the Bishop
Revd Augustine Ojukwu – Diocesan Financial Secretary/Accountant
Ven. David Nnonyelum- Director of Mission outreach and Evangelism
Ven. E.O. SIla I. Ikeh – Director of Music
Revd. Franklin Chukwudozie – EFAC Chaplain
Revd. Oliver Chigbo –Bishops Chaplain
Revd. Silas Odimegwu – Chaplain AYF
Lady CHristic Ogum – Chairman, Board of Governors, Holy Child Convent, Amichi.
Dr. Sir. Edwin Agbasimelo – Chairman, Diocesan Hospital Management Board.
Later on, the following Chaplains were appointed too:
Revd. Canon J.C. Maduka- Chaplain Diocesan Laity Council
Revd. Godwin Okafor – Chaplain Anglican Men's Christian Fellowship
Revd. Onyeka C. Mbachu – Chaplain, Boys & Girls Brigade.
Revd. Robinson Oguchi- Chaplain, Anglican Children Ministry.
Revd. Richard Ibeto – Director of Moral Instruction.
Revd. Samuel Nzowu – Chaplain, Women Ministries and Girls Guild.
Our earnest prayer for these servants of God is that the Almighty God will use them to accomplish great things for His glory in the various areas and departments we have prayerful assigned to them in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
We also had the inaugural meeting of the Diocesan Finance Board on 6th of March, 2009 at St. Stephen's church, Osumenyi.
MEETING WITH THE KNIGHTS AND LADIES AUXILIARY OF THE DIOCESE.
Recognizing the pivotal roles that Knights and ladies play in the development and advancement of the church of God and Gospel of His Kingdom, the Bishops deemed it extremely necessary to have a ladies on 14th April, 2009: (Easter Tuesday) at the Cathedral church of St. Andrew, Amichi. The wonderful positive response given to that meeting by our Knights and their ladies by massive attendance remains a very strong morale-booster to the Bishop. One of the outstanding and glorious out come of that meeting is that our noble and gallant Knights have gladly decided and accepted that they will not be putting on their caps during church worship immediately they process into the church, even though the cap is part of their regalia. They will process into the church putting it on, but immediately they get to their pews, everyone will remove his cap as a mark of honour and regard to the Almighty God who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Then, immediately after the benediction; they will put it on for recession. This is very commendable. Our prayer is that this Diocese will be showing others how to worship and honour God in spirit and in truth. Once again, I say to our Knights – BRAVO!
BISHOP'S PASTORAL VISIT TO CHURCHES:-
In a bid to fully acquaint himself with actual and factual happenings and state of churches in the Diocese, the Bishop started pastoral visit to our churches beginning with Holy Trinity Anglican Church Utuh on Sunday 25th January, 2009. Apart from Holy Trinity Church, Utuh, other Churches visited with dates are:-
St. Stephen's Church, Osumenyi – 8th February, 2009.
St. Peter's Church, Akabu-Osumenyi -15th February, 2009.
St. Philip's Church, Eziana Amichi – 22nd February, 2009
Ebenezar Ang. Church, Unubi - 8th March, 2009.
St. Peter's Church, Amichi – 15th March, 2009.
Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi – 22nd March, 2009
Immanuel Anglican Church, Ekwulumili – 29th March, 2009
Immanuel Church, Akwa-Ihedi – 5th April, 2009
St. Simon's Ang. Church, Ezinifite -12th April, 2009
Following the very revealing discoveries made during these visits, the Bishop intends to continue the exercise until all the churches in the Diocese has been visited. Apart from the routine pastoral visit which has some elements of artificiality on the part the church worker making sure he mobilizes his members to prove that all is well, the Bishop and his wife decided to pay unscheduled and unannounced visit to some of our churches during the Holy Week. In other to cover more churches, the Bishop went o some churches, whereas the wife went to others. The exercise really paid off because we were able to see the real spiritual state our churches. What we saw and experienced in many of these churches did not encourage us at all at this point, I wish to call passionately on our church workers to sit up and brace up with the challenges of our vocation. Both the rich spiritual foundation of the Anglican church will not by any means be toyed with in this Diocese.
Furthermore, our liturgy and tradition as Anglicans must not be undermined at all. In order to carry the clergymen and other, church workers along in making this Diocese spiritually viable and liturgically enviable, we are organizing many retreats so as to achieve this.
GUIDELINES AND POLICIES ON ISSUES AND EVENTS IN THE DIOCESE:
One of the vision – statements of our primate for the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is that the Anglican church must be a Bible-based, and spiritually dynamic church. The few months we stayed and moved around in the Diocese has revealed to us that so many things done in our churches are not done with the Bible in focus and our Christian faith. We have after some meditations, prayers and reflections deemed it fit and wise that a measure of control and guideline should be spelt out in these areas, so as to make us the disciples of Christ, and church of the living God which we been called to be. Let me therefore make these policy – statements as touching some areas in our church and Christian life.
a. MARRIAGE AND WEDDING
It is now almost becoming a tradition for church members to come early in the morning for wedding and thereafter in the evening go for traditional marriage ceremony. This is unacceptable in this Diocese. The church should be the last bus-stop for any marriage involving our members. No clergymen should get involved in conducting wedding before traditional marriage. This as far as I know undermines the authority of the church and the efficacy of church wedding. It is expected that the church under the leadership of the priest should sanctify and declared final blessings on the new couple. They should then move to their homes and start their new family.
Secondly, we have also ungodly with shame and dismay, the unchristian and ungodly practice of wedding ceremoniously pregnant ladies in our churches. This is not only unchristian but completely un Anglican. We can longer allow the unregenerate people of the world set some unwholesome precedence and standards in the church. No how popular this practice has been, it cannot be condoned in this Diocese where Jesus Christ is our Anchor. In as much as we thank God for the gift of pregnancy, we ought not to be putting the cart before the horse, which is not only abnormal but obstructs the movement of the Horse. This practice has in no small measure obstructed the move of the Holy Spirit in our churches. We need to sanitize the church for which Jesus Christ died on the cross to save and redeem.
If a man comes to wed in the church and the would-be wife is pregnant, the priest should only arrange for blessing of the marriage, and that will be done without the lady wearing wedding gown. Furthermore, no clergyman is called to conduct any wedding for ladies wearing sleeveless wedding gowns in any of our churches in this Diocese. The dressing of the chief bridesmaid, bridal train, or ladies of honour must be properly checked to avoid nudity, non-covering of head and sleeveless dresses into the church.
One of the rampart traditions we have witnessed is most of the towns that make up our Diocese is single-parenthood. This is a practice where some girls or ladies are traditionally kept in their fathers' houses and are authorized after some traditional rights to be bearing children without getting married. The reasons for such a terrible, obnoxious and unscriptural practice range from, not having a ale child to inherit the ‘obi' or, for the continuity of the family name and lineage to not having many children by the father, or many relations. We have to state the obvious by saying that is an outright authorization of Fornication, Adultery, and Immorality in the society. This church called Diocese of Amichi cannot endorse or accept such culture. Fornication is Fornication no matter in what guise and is vehemently condemned by the word of God. Ephesians 5:3 states inter alia, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you as is fitting for the saint.”
We now make it clear that any person who practices such should not partake in Holy Communion, and also, that person is not qualified to be a member of Parochial Church Committee, or be in the Executive Committee of Women's Guild or Mothers' Union. If we also find out that any of our members subjects his/her daughter to such tradition, the Diocese will also withdraw the right of Holy Communion from such parents, and that of holding any leadership position in the church.
BURIAL CEREMONY AND FUNERAL RITES:
Burial is a rite which the church is obliged to perform for any of her full and committed members who it pleases God to call home through death. Yet there are practices and customs that are indulged in by our members whose people die that we need to re-examine in the light of the Bible and our Christian faith and testimonies. One of such practices is the shooting of DANE GUNS when a Christian is being buried. It is therefore my wish to state that this Diocese will no longer accept it. It is purely a heathen practice which has its origin for African Traditional Religion (ATR). Once the sound of either Dane gun or any type of gunshot is heard, the church will no longer partake in that burial.
Furthermore, the mandate given by the LORD of the church, Jesus Christ is “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to all.” In pursuant of this all important injunction, it has been also decided that burial services will be conducted in the compound of the deceased. We have discovered that about 80% of the people who come for burial wait in the compound of the decease till we come back fro the church thereby excluding them from the sermon at burial which is the major mission of the church. May I use this medium to appeal to our members who will want us to do the will of the dead, who they usually claim left instruction that his or her remains should be carried to the church to please focus on doing the will of God than the wish of the dead.
Evangelism is our supreme task in this Diocese and must be carried out without looking back. Those who claim that the deceased was one of the ‘pillars' of the church, and as such should have his/her burial service conducted inside the church, should have a rethink. Bringing one's corpse into the church does not change the destination of the person as far as eternity with God is concerned. Again, the disarray caused to the solemness of such divine service by carrying corpse to and fro the church is not always an encouraging and decent experienced. “A charge to keep I have; a God to glorify, a never-dying soul to save; and fit it for the Sky.” This is my God-given mandate, and not to do the wish of a dead man.
Still on burial, any family wishing to bury their dead, and later on do the funeral has only three weeks to do so. If after three weeks of burying a person and the funeral ceremony not done; the church will no longer partake in such funeral ceremony. This is gradually tilting us towards heathenic and idolatrous practice. If your father, mother or uncle, left an instruction to you that he will not like his corpse to be deposited in a mortuary, you should be prepared to do the funeral ceremony immediately.
Shaving of hair or wearing of mourning cloth is at the discretion of the mourner. Nobody should be forced to shave hair for the dead if he/she is not convinced or delighted to do so. And none of our members shall be maltreated by anybody if he/she wishes not to either wear the mourning cloth or shave hair. It is purely a personal matter. We should be concerned with how to comfort, encourage, and assist the bereaved to recover from the devastating effect of loosing a loved one, and not how to torture, humiliate and deepen the wound and sorrow of such a person through these customs and traditions.
May I at this juncture make a passionate appeal to our abroad members who are very active in the cites where they are, and are not known in their home churches to change their attitude. Charity they say begins at home. Some have be investiture Knights where they are, but don't identify with their brother Knights in their home Diocese. Such attitude will not be accepted in the Diocese. The act of paying huge amount to the church termed as clearing of debt for a deceased member after he/she had died so that they can be buried will not work. We should worship with you while you are alive, so that if death comes, we can bury the person.
Let me plead with our members to repent of the prodigal and flamboyant materialistic exhibition they indulge in when burying their dead. It is one thing to say “the money I'm spending is my money; and another thing to know that “we must render account of how we spent God-given resources we have in our possession. “All of us are God's managers and treasurers to the owner of the business of firm.
RESTRUCTURING THE DIOCESE FOR MORE EVANGELISTIC CHALLENGES, AND GRASSROOT PASTORAL OVERSIGHT.
The idea of having very bogus Archdeaconries that span through large expanse of parishes does not encourage growth in our churches. Administratively, the Archdeacons in charge of such vast areas don't pastor them effectively. The shepherd should know the sheep, and the sheep should also identify without difficult the shepherd, and relate closely with him. There is always the temptation to remain complacent when we are very numerous in any church, parish or Archdeaconry. We erroneously think that we are growing without knowing that the reverse is always the case. To foster and re-awaken our Evangelism drive and zeal, and to feel the challenge of soul winning, the Diocese of Amichi (Anglican Communion) is therefore restructured thus:- with some Priests appointed as their administrators pending when they proved to us that they have the ability to plant and grow more churches in their areas of coverage:-
1. Cathedral Deanery.
(a) Cathedral church of St. Andrew, Amichi Ven. E.O. Umeh
2. Amichi Archdeaconry.
(a) St. Philip's church, Amichi-Headquarter
(b) St. Bartholomew's church, Amichi Revd. Canon A. Igbokwe
(c) All Saints' church Ogbodi (Administrator)
3. Amichi West Archdeaconry
(a) St. Peter's church, Amichi-Headquarter
(b) St. James' church, Azigbo Rev. Canon J. Maduka
(c) Christ church, Amichi (Administrator)
(d) Church of Divine Compassion, Amichi
4. Osumenyi Archdeaconry
(a) St. Stephen's church, Osumeye-Headquarter
(b) St. Peter's church, Akabu Osumnenyi Ven. E.C. Naoli
(c) All Saints church, Obiofia Osumenyi
(d) Christ church, Odikpi Osumenyi
5. Ebenator Archdeaconry
(a) St. Andrew's church, Ebenator- Headquarter
(b) Holy Trinity church, Utuh Rev. J. Umeasiegbu
(c) Immanuel church, Akwa ihedi (Administrator)
(d) St. Philip's church, Ebenator
(e) Church of Pentecost, Umuonyeukpa, Ebenator
(f) Church of Holy Spirit, Akwa ihedi
6. Ezinifite Archdeaconry-
(a) St. Simon's church, Ezinifite-Headquarter Ven. D. Nnonyelum
(b) St. Mary's church, Ezinifite
(c) St. Jude's church, Akala
7. Ekwulumili Archdeaconry
(a) Emmanuel church, Ekwulumli – Headquarter
(b) All Saints' church, Ekwulumili Revd. Canon Okafor
(c) St. Matthew's church, Ekwulumili (Administrator)
(d) St. Michael and All Angels, Ekwulumili
(e) St. Matthias church, Ekwulumili
8. Unubi Archdeaconry-
(a) Ebenezer church, Unubi- Headquarter
(b) St. Paul's church, Unubi Revd. Bertram Muogbo
(c) St. Andrew's church, Unubi (Administrator)
(d) St. Simon's church, Unubi
Let it be noted clearly here that the creation of these Archdeaconries for Evangelism purpose, and not in any way for preferment's or giving of bigger titles to the priests. I challenge the administrators to face the enormous task confronting them in this new assignment with vigour and commitment. It is therefore a mandate to all the Archdeacons and Administrators to make sure that each archdeaconry goes on very serious outreach and plant at least one new church every year starting from this year. There will be no other option left for me than to relieve any archdeacon or administrator of this position if he fails to live up to this expectation and mandate. No excuse will be acceptable to us. The church of God must march on and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. We must do the works of Him who sent us while it if day, because night comes when no man shall work. It is either Evangelism, Mission and Church Planting or nothing else. That you are an administrator is not a sure route to becoming our Archdeacon. Only performance is the only sure route. Those church workers affected by the restructuring should collect their location letters on Monday at the Diocesan Secretariat.
OUR PROGRAMMES IN THE DIOCESE
By the special grace of God, in order to give the Diocese the strong and concrete sound spiritual footing it needs, and in the bid to attend to the spiritual yearnings of the people of God, we have been able under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit Kick-started some programmes to that effect. One of such programmes is our monthly prayer programme tagged” PRAYER BREAKFAST” which holds every first day of every month at 6.00am at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Amichi. The kind of position response demonstrated through the great number of people in attendance bears eloquent testimony that God directed us to begin the programme. The attendance spans through Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi States. People from far places lodge in near by hotels so that they can partake. We implore our members who have not been attending, to give it a feel and trial. At this point, I must appreciate my clergy and their wives for their encouragement through active participation and effective mobilization of our members in various churches.
Another programme we have started is our special annual prayer gathering for women, both married and unmarried. This programme is titled” THE WAILING WOMEN PRAYER SUMMIT.” This year's own was held fro m23rd – 26th April, 2009. Women and Ladies from all works and walks of life were in attendance. So many great testimonies trailed the programme. Even though it is capital-intensive, yet the result and effect of that spiritual programme cannot be quantified to the glory of God.
Furthermore, there is aspect of Evangelism that the Anglican Church seem to be shying away from. We have also decided to venture into it knowing fully that most of our young people, and even older ones are grossly misled through it because of the quality of messages they hear from there. This is what is known as “MEDIA EVANGELISM”. Even though, I started the programme over five years ago in Ebonyi Broadcasting Service, Abakaliki, we have extended to Purity FM Awka since October 2008 through divine instruction. The responses we get from listeners each the radio stations finished airing the programme have been very tremendous. The programme comes up in Purity FM every Saturday from 8.00pm to 8.30pm; while that of Ebony Radio comes up every Sunday 6.30pm to 7.00pm. we are planning to move to NTA or even Cable Television Stations if we can get sponsors. I want to passionately appeal to all the good people of this Diocese and lovers of the Gospel to partner with us in this move. These two Radio Stations take from us annually the sum of One Million, Three Hundred and Twenty Two Thousand (N1,322,000.). You can sponsor for one quarter, or half a year, or even one year in either of the Stations. We have intention of extending to B.C.A 88.1 FM. No greater mandate can we have than to take the gospel to every nook and cranny of Nigeria through the media.
So as to meet up with great challenge and task of ministering to Youths and Evangelize them, we have started a Diocesan Youth Mass Choir, which we intent to be using in all our major Crusades, Revivals and special programme. We want to encourage Youth participation in our Diocese through modern ways and designs that will keep them active and useful in the Anglican church.
NEWS FROM CHURCH OF NIGERIA
On 12th of November, 2008, fourteen Priests were elected Bishops at Lagos by the house of Bishops. And the 11th January, 2009 at the Cathedral church of All Saints, Ughelli, Delta State thirteen of them were consecrated by His Grace, The Most Revd Peter J. AKinola, CON, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria; assisted by one hundred and twenty five Bishops. Those consecrated were:-
Rt. Revd. Chijioke Augustine Aneke – Udi Diocese
Rt. Revd. Ephraim Okechukwu Ikeakor – Amichi Diocese
Rt. Revd. Samuel Egbeunmi – Ilesa South Diocese
Rt. Revd. Edward Osuegbu – Okigwe Diocese
Rt. Revd. Blessing Erifeta – Sapele
Rt. Revd. Daniel Olinya – Eha-Amufu (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Felix Akinbuluma – Irele (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Frederick Orogbemi – Ilaje (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Nyittsse – Gboko (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Festus Davies – Ogori Magongo (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Yufus Jarfalan – Ikara (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Benjamin Vanger – Zaki-Biam (M) Diocese
Rt. Revd. Titus Fajemorikum – Ilesa North Central (M) Diocese
On the 8th of March, 2009 at Bida two other Bishops were consecrated. They are: Rt. Revd. Christopher Omotunde – Suffragan Bishop of Ondo, and Rt. Revd. Godson Ukanwa – Bishop of Okigwe – North Diocese.
The Rt. Revd. Alfred I. Nwaizuzu, and his wife Mrs Ester Nwaizuzu joyfully retired from active church service in April, 2009.
NEW ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCES; AND ELECTION OF ARCHBISHOPS
On the 14th March, 2009, four new archbishops were elected to over the four new ecclesiastical provinces created. They include:
The Most Revd. Emmanuel Egbunu – Lokoja Province
The Most Revd. Michael Ekiyemi – Kwara Province
The Most Revd. Amos Madu – Enugu Province
The Most Revd. Ignatius Kattey – Niger Delta Province (old province)
The Most Revd. Ugochukwu Ezuoke – Aba Province (new province)
On the same date, two new bishops were elected in the persons of Rt. Revd. Nathan Kanu – Aba-Ngwa North Diocese, and Rt. Revd. Praise Omelewa – Zonkwa Diocese.
The Archbishops have been presented, and their provinces inaugurated, while the Bishops have also been consecrated. We implore all of you to please continue to pray for the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as she grows.
STATE OF THE NATION
We want to congratulate our President Alhaji Umaru Musa Yaradua, and every Nigerian as our country marked ten years of uninterrupted democratic governance in the land. We also commend our leaders striying to keep this country as one united and indivisible entity. Nevertheless, there is very urgent need to take a strong retrospective appraisal of the happening in this great country of ours called Nigeria. To my mind, there seem to movement without being in motion. Nigeria is a country where we have very wonderful and meticulous policy formulators and makers, but regrettably, we don't have policy implementers, or put in a more friendly manner, we have not allow policy implementers to function.
As we still thank God for using our president to appoint a seasoned educationist as the minister for Education in the person of Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu, it is very pertinent to remind our leaders that the education industry is apparently collapsing. The calibre of University graduates from various universities in their country calls for worry and serious concern. The outrageous level of examination mal-practices in our schools from primary school level to tertiary institutions are very worrisome. May I at this point call on both the state and federal government to reconsider this arrangement they call “SPECIAL CENTRES” for the conduct of West African School Certificate Examination and NECO exams. That arrangement is doing no good to our education industry.
We want appeal to the government to tackle with optimum serious and practical approach, the problem of cultism, and sexual harassment by lecturers before they can mark the papers, our release results to female students. This is really getting out of hand. Pretending that it is not there is just making mockery of ourselves and the nation at large. The government in collaboration with the Senate of various Universities, and the National University Commission should as a matter of urgently re-scrutinize and carefully monitor the criteria for making people professors in our universities. The quality of professors we are seeing these days, and the quality of their academic performance, and professional contribution in their field of specialization leaves so much to be desired.
The gross rate of kidnapping, and broad-day and unchallenged robbery of banks and individuals by Armed Robbers demand very urgent action. A country that is yearning to woo foreign investors where there is nearly total collapse of security is only day-dreaming. Our security agencies should rise to this challenge. The government should also provide the law enforcement agents with the modern and current logistics needed to confront these hoodlums and agents of destruction. The welfare of the Nigerian police officers should be meaningfully looked into. The insecurity of lives and properties of Christians in the North should be addressed transparently by the government.
It is a very big embarrassment to Nigerians that politicians who have completed their current tenure in office have started campaigning for 2011. this is a very big distracting. Let these politicians use this period to concentrate on what to do in order to affect the lives of the masses positively. Politicians are advised to play the game of politics according to the rules. Violence, politics of calumny, and destruction of lives and properties are not only undemocratic, but very primitive. INEC should brace up to the challenge of conducting credible, free and fair election. The number of governorship elections nullified by Election tribunals and Law Courts ought to be a big poser to INEC generally.
Again, the development in which after one year or more, election cases are still pending in Courts and tribunals does not augur well for democracy in our country. The judiciary in any case needs to be commended for the brevity and commitment displayed in handling election cases. We salute their forthrightness and uprightness.
THE THEME OF THE SYNOD: Choose you this day whom you will serve – Joshua 24:14.
Joshua as we all know was chosen by God to success Moses as the leader of His people Israel who eventually brought them into the promised land of Canaan and allotted lands to families and tribes (Joshua 1:1-2). Joshua was one leader who was in a better position to admonish, rebuke, direct, and speak to the people of Israel with a very high level of certainty and convictions. The reason being that He walked very closely with his master and mentor Moses for a relatively long time before the mantle of leadership fell on him. He knew the Israelites, who are his Kinsmen and associates very well. He quite experienced the fluctuating and unimpressive loyalty and obedience they exhibited in the wilderness towards God despite the glorious and awesome deliverances, miracles, favour and care God gave and showered on them. They were always inconsistent and unreliable in keeping God's laws, statutes, ordinances and precepts. They kept on breaking the covenant of undivided loyalty and monotheism which they had with God. Spiritual prostitution; syncretism, outright idol worship, ungodly marriage alliance; and very offensive cultural interpolation and Romance were characteristic of the Israelites. These unwholesome and untrustworthy attributes and attitudes informed the content and direction of Joshua's valedictory speech, charge or sermon to the Israelites in Chapter 23 and 23. At this point, Joshua was old and advanced in age being one hundred and ten years old. (Joshua 23:1-2). He summoned all the twelve tribes of Israel through their elders, heads, judges and officers at Stechem.
In the presence of all them, he rehearsed for them all their walk and dealings with God. The battles He fought for them, and how He miraculously brought them to Canaan. He also reminded them of God's instruction, concerning their relationship and level of interaction with the inhabitants of Canaan. It was in the bid to reawaken their spiritual consciousness in following God, that he made the charge and challenge that formed the theme of our synod this year thus: “Now therefore; fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, chose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
WHY REQUESTING FOR MAKING WORSHIP CHOICE?
The request which Joshua made asking the Israelites to chose whom to serve is very significant for the people. Having experienced the deeds and mercies of the Almighty God, and the activities of the gods of the surrounding nations, it was very necessary for them to decided whom to serve. He also laid bare how awesome, jealous, holy, great, and uncomprising their GOD is, they needed to make a meticulous, very careful and conscious cum informed decision whether or not to follow or serve him. When the people of Joshua 24:16-18 hastily declared that they would serve the LORD their GOD who had done so many wonderful and marvelous things for their forefathers and themselves; Joshua did not waste time in retorting, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins (Joshua 24:19).
Joshua really understood the people and their spiritual flexibility; and therefore was quite in doubt if they would behave differently after his death. In the worship of God, we ought to know who this God is, His dos and don'ts, His likes and Dislikes, and above all, His nature and attributes. One cannot serve who he/she does not know either his personality or his demands and expectation. If someone eventually decides to serve whom he does not know, the likelihood will be that you will be serving wrongly, or even offending him in the course of the so called service.
THE THEME AND US
If there is anytime that the church and Christians should be confronted with the demand of the theme of our Synod, it is now. Choose you this day whom you shall serve. The twenty-first century Christianity is characterized by Idolatry baptized as cultural values and practices. After one hundred and fifty years of the coming of Christianity to us in Igboland, the battle between the Christian faith and culture still rages greatly. I think that the time to decide concretely those aspects of culture that need to be completely expunged in order to allow the light of the Gospel to shine and radiate the way it ought to. In Matthew Chapter 5 verse 14 and 16, our Lord Jesus Christ says “ You are the light of the world. A city of that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Today, instead of shinning to show the people of the world who are grappling in darkness, we confuse them the more we by blending the gospel with Idolatory. Who are we serving when some of us have gone to shrines and deities to swear oaths and enter into covenants. Others sue their fellow Christians or church members, or even non-members in shrine courts so as to settle either land case, business misunderstand, or even village squabbles. If you are involved in this act in whatever form, you are required to chose from today whom you will serve.
There are still some of us who patronize native and witch doctors for protective charms, or for solutions to one problem or the other. Yet others belong to secret cults or other ocultic groups. Some are sponsors of masquerade cult and activities in their various towns and villages, even with some dignified church titles given to them. It is no more an embarrassment to some of us to see our members who boldly place Ogboni, Eckamkar, Amorc, Grail Movement, Free Masons etc stickers on their vehicles while they still worship with us in our various parishes, Archdeaconries and Dioceses. Consider once again the theme of this Synod, chose you this day whom you shall serve. Syncretism is the combining and blending two or more religious beliefs and make it to agree to become one and also acceptable.
We are very syncretic in our belief system. God will always tell the Israelites through Elijah the prophet, for how long will you dangle between two opinions, if baal is god follow him; if God is God follow him” (1Kings 18:21). There is no iota of compromise in serving the Almighty God. Romans Chapter 12 verse 2 states “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In one of his books, one of the respected preachers and author by name John White asked some questions that borders on what we discussing thus: To what intent should my Christian faith incorporate cultural values? To what extent and in what ways can I and should I differ from my culture? Where do Christ and my culture blend naturally? Where do they conflict? What we erroneously call ‘cultural revival' is when looked at from the eye of Christ and the holy scriptures is pure idolatry.
Let us look a bit more inwardly into the church of today and know whether the theme of our synod has any message and relevance to the church. Matthew Chapter 6 verse 24 says “ No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON.” Mammon is the god or spirit responsible for material acquisition, wealth, worldly possessions. I'm obviously afraid that the present day church and pastors, preachers, and church leaders have abandoned the mission and message of the church which our Lord Jesus Christ instituted in pursuit of money and wealth. We can compromise the gospel to any extent in order to raise fund. We can give any type of people any Christian title so far they can give money to the church. We can thwart the truth of the word of God whenever it affects the rich and the wealthy in the church. The church is making very frantic effort so as to become financially viable and powerful.
Every Crusade, Revival, Retreat programmes today must virtually end up with heavy fund raising, launching, donation or put spiritually “sowing seed of the faith”. Sinners and the poor are made to pay for the gospel they hear. We measure the success of any programmes in the church not by the number of converts made or lives transformed, but the amount of money realized in such programmes. The pertinent question here remains; when we do these things in the church of God, whom do we think we are serving? God or mammon? Whom are we serving when almost everything we do in the church today are tailored towards winning the approval and acceptance of the world – Our sermons, Our Gospel Music, Our Dress code, Our Marriage Pattern, Our attitude in taking Examinations?
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth. (John. 4:24). As obedient children not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1Peter 1:14-16).
My dear people of God, None of us can say that we have chosen to serve the LORD until we decide to worship Him the way He wants, and not, the way we want. God is His own interpreter. Until we all allow Him to interpret Himself and His way to us, we cannot claim to have decided to serve the LORD our GOD.
ADDENDUM AND CONCLUSION
As we come to conclude this address, it is very important to note that during our meeting the noble Knights and Ladies of this Diocese, we agreed to appoint some leaders for the Diocese Council of Knights for effective running of the affairs of that body. Therefore, in keeping with that promise, the following key officers have been prayerfully appointed:-
President, Diocesan Council of Knights – Dr. Sir Eddy Agbasimelo
Vice President, Diocesan Council of Knights – Sir Joshua Mkparu
Secretary, Diocesan Council of Knights – Sir Joe Atuchukwu
It is our prayer that these great and experienced men will use their wealth of experience and exposure to kick-start and pilot the affairs of the council to a very enviable height. It is now their duty to arrange and elect in their meeting other officers to form the executive committee members of the Council.
OUR NEEDS, AND APPEAL:
It is unarguably an obvious fact that this is a very young Diocese, infact the youngest Diocese in the Province of the Niger. Many teething problems traditionally are confronting her. We therefore passionately appeal to all and sundry to join hands with to nurture this baby. The Diocese urgently needs the following:-
100 KVA sound-proof Generator. The bishop since his arrival on 25th of December, 2008 has been managing his personal 7KCA Generator which does not light the Bishops court let alone carrying the electrical appliances.
A three storey building as Hostel Accommodation for our Holy Child Convent Amichi. It is our burning desire to make this convent one of the best in Nigeria. We cannot achieve this without having very strong and modern building structures.
A brand new (Hummer) Bus to augment the Bishop's car in order to extend the lifespan of that car. If that car is over-stressed and over-worked, it will not last. The Bishop's office needs such a bus for movements into interior parts of our Diocese, and other travels.
Inter-locking and completion of the Bishop's Court. This needs very urgent attention because since the rains set in, it has been a very unpleasant experienced for the Bishop and his family. This is because they must keep vigil at night if it is raining so as to fight flood from moving into the living rooms.
We need a very modern Diocesan secretariat complex.
It is our heart desire to have a standard Hospital in this Diocese. We therefore appeal to those you who have connections within and outside this country to please assist us in equipping this hospital.
There are so many needs but I know that we cannot do everything in one year. The ones mentioned now are the ones that need urgent attention. Once again, we ask you to sacrificially partner with us in meeting these needs. We have the people who can do it, and like Obama will say “We can”.
In conclusion, may we thank all who in one way or the other has made this Synod a success especially, St. Stephen's Parish, Osumenyi. We thank the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, Bro. Boniface Ekenonu, and his team, the Ven. E.C. Nnoli and wife and his team of church workers in the Parish, Chairman Diocesan Synod Planning Committee, Hon. C.I. Nwosu and others who worked assiduously behind the scene. The Synod secretariats needs to be commended also. And to all of us, we pray that the good LORD will continue to bless you in Jesus Christ Name, Amen.
And to my dear people of Osumenyi, let met remind you even though you know it, that this town is a great town, and God has blessed you tremendously. Let us chose to sacrifice our ego and differences in order to move our town forward. Forgiveness and forbearance are the marks of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It is time to move forward. We have been on this mountain for too long.
We have decided to lift the Bible far and above every human being, ideology and culture in this Diocese and we cannot go back. We have chosen to serve the LORD with all Hearts. May the Almighty God continue to bless all of you wonderfully.
Thank you so much for your patient listening. “Chose you this day whom you will serve”.
THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA
THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, D.D, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.
Communique from the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria
The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, met at All Souls Chapel and Oduduwa Hall at Obafemi Awolowo University, lie Ife, Osun State, from March 10-14, 2009. The Standing Committee serves as the Executive Body of the Church of Nigeria between meetings of the General Synod. One hundred and fifty five bishops, one hundred and fifty clergy and one hundred and thirty nine laity were present. We were welcomed by the Rt Rev'd OIuranti Odubogun, Bishop of the Diocese of I fe, Professor Michael Faborode, Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, His Excellency Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Governor of Osun State and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II.
The theme of the meeting was. "The Youth of our Church" and at the conclusion the Standing Committee issued this Communique:
2. UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY WITH TODAY'S YOUTH
We recognize that the youth of today are living under very different conditions from older generations. The ease of access to the global village afforded by Information Technology has a profound impact on what they believe and how they behave. We will do all that we can to secure the commitment of our youth by involving them fully in the task of nation building through the transforming mission of the church. We will challenge them, guide them, listen to them and assure them of our support.
We acknowledge the essential role of education in enabling the youth to identifY and fulfill their vocation. We congratulate those States that have returned to the original owners some of the schools founded by mission organizations and then taken over by the government. We call for a full return of all schools in this category. We believe that this will help in no small measure in the crusade for national rebirth and the restoration of moral fibre and academic excellence.
3. ECONOMIC SITUATION In the present global economic crisis, when serious minded nations of the world have taken urgent steps to invest their resources in other viable sectors of their economies, Nigeria continues to sell her oil but is not investing the huge profits from these sales wisely in productive sectors of our economy. It is a matter of grave concern that our political leaders have been and remain more concerned about exorbitant remuneration packages, excessive allowances, and payment for highly inflated and hardly completed contracts; this despite the unacceptable fact that more than seventy percent of our population continues to live in poverty.
The war against corruption has become mere rhetoric. The day of reckoning may not be far away. If Nigeria is to avoid an economic catastrophe we call on our leaders and citizenry to wake up and cultivate a new mindset of transparency and accountability. We also must chart a new economic course by developing viable non-oil sectors for sustainable wealth creation and the development of the country.
4. NATIONAL CONCERNS
Our national development depends upon political stability. Experience from the recent elections makes it clear that necessary legislation should be put in place to ensure that election petitions are concluded before the end of the tenure of incumbent political office holders. Also, the funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation while necessary legal apparatus for its disbursement should guarantee the availability of funds to INEC as and when necessary.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, as Nigeria's centre for unity, should reflect the fact that it is a territory for all Nigerians and not for any particular section of the country. Accordingly, political and other appointments in the FCT should reflect the federal character of the nation.
- RELIGIOUS CRISIS
For more than twenty years there has been an unrelenting religious crisis in Nigeria. The Christian Church has been the target of attack and has suffered irreparable losses in many parts of the North. At different times various reasons have been advanced: unemployment, poverty, politics and sectarian tensions. However, those who have perpetrated these destructive actions have never been brought to justice, operate with impunity and appear to be motivated by the conviction that if they persist they will be able to claim entire sections of Nigeria for their faith. We reject this claim.
We also view with grave concern the recent inflammatory statement by Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima calling for the total Islamization of Nigeria. This attitude threatens the very existence of our nation. Since this call violates specific Constitutional provision for the freedom of religion and his public oath to protect the Constitution we ask the leadership of the Senate to investigate as to whether Senator Yerima is qualified to continue to hold office.
We call for a national conference of all relevant stakeholders especially the National A;-sembly, Media practitioners, religious leaders and the guardians of our constitution to deal with these issues and plan for a peaceful and just future for Nigeria. We are convinced that unless urgent action is taken we may have no future for the next generation.
6. OUR ASSURANCE
As Anglican Christians we continue to be distressed by the spiritual crisis within our own family of faith in other parts of the world. Since 2003 the unilateral revisionist actions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church Canada have torn the fabric of our common life. While the Church of Nigeria stands resolutely and uncompromisingly on the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the Lordship of Jesus Christ endless meetings and repeated communiques have done nothing to bring restoration of our beloved communion. In this, however, and in all these matters our hope is not in our own efforts but in the Lord Himself. We can therefore boldly declare to our nation and to the world, "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
RESOLUTION OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE REGARDING THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA
Whereas the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) meeting in Obafemi Awolowo University, lIe Ife, Osun State has welcomed the Right Reverend Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, and
Whereas we have heard his testimony regarding the remarkable emergence of the Anglican Church in North America bringing together eleven ecclesiastical jurisdictions consisting of seven hundred congregations representing more than one hundred thousand Anglicans in the United States and Canada who have held true to the faith once delivered to the saints, and
Whereas this newly formed Anglican Church holds to the authority and trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures, the historic creeds, the traditional formularies of Anglicanism and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Saviour, and
Whereas the Constitution and Canons of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) 2002 (3:1 as amended) stipulates that This Church shall be in/ull communion with all Anglican Churches} Dioceses and Pr.ovinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith} Doctrine} Sacraments and Discipline of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His Holy Word and as the same are received and taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal of 1662 and in the thirty nine Articles, of Religion.
In pursuance of this section of the Constitution, the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) resolves that we are in full and abiding communion with the Anglican Church in North America. .
We further assure them that an open door of fellowship remains theirs in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) while they remain faithful to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the historic, biblical, Apostolic and Orthodox faith once delivered to the saints.
In conclusion, this Standing Committee encourages the Primate, Archbishop Peter J. Akinola to give positive consideration to the request of the Anglican Church in North America to send a delegation to the inaugural Provincial Assembly, of June nnd to 25th, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, to demonstrate our enduring partnership in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA
THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, 0.0, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.
My Dear People of God,
We send you greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ whose footsteps we follow in this Holy Season of Lent. We pray that our journey of faith will reveal afresh for our edification, the meaning and centrality of the Cross, which precedes the victory of the glorious Easter.
The Bishops, Clergy and Lay delegates from all 155 dioceses of our Church gathered in Ile-Ife, in the Diocese of Ife for our Standing Committee meeting with our focus on 'The Youth of our Church'. Accordingly, leaders of various Youth groups as well as clergymen in that bracket featured prominently. Together we sought to understand better ways of discovering and engaging the great potentials of our young people so that our parental and pastoral mentoring roles can be more effectively channelled for mutual edification. In particular, the role of parents and godparents in Baptism should be revisited and revived beyond mere ceremonial formality.
It has been a time to listen to our youth talk about their worldview - their hopes and frustrations and what they perceive to be a departure from biblical models of youth involvement at critical moments. Joseph's recognition in Egypt and Timothy's nurture under Apostle Paul's tutelage were cited among several worthy models.
The Church needs the youth and the youth need the Church. In his address to us, the Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, stated that the Church is strategically placed to prepare the youth for future leadership to address the many serious social ills in our country and bring about lasting transformation.
We encourage youth participation at all levels of our Church life from parish to diocesan levels - as PCC members and delegates to diocesan functions with adequate funding. Similarly we challenge our youth to be faithful stewards of God's resources entrusted to them.
The need to make our worship more lively and youth-friendly came under serious consideration. Given that Nigeria has about 64% of the total estimated population below age ~5, we should appreciate that our youth, as people in transition, have a passion for change. Ministers of the gospel should therefore be sensitive to their desire to express their love for God in an authentic and interactive way.
We continue to be concerned about the insistence of some of our elderly members to remain in the leadership of the Anglican Youth Fellowship (A Y F) rather than allowing the youth their legitimate platform. We urge such elderly ones to find ways to transit to other spiritual ministries of the Church and continue in their service for the Lord. We maintain that the AYF membership should be open to those within ages 13 and 40.
Our Anglican youth who go on national service should be encouraged to feel at home wherever an Anglican Church exists or if none exists they should be encouraged to start oT1e. If we fail to reach out to them at this point, they may easily drift to other religious groupings that are more willing to attend to their immediate needs as they settle to a new environment.
The Anglican Students' Fellowship (ASF) in our colleges and universities should be encouraged by having chaplains appointed for them who will be available to minister to their needs for counselling in making important decisions about their future, Confirmation services, and other similar spiritual challenges.
We are especially concerned about those who are using large sums of money to lure our youth to see homosexuality and lesbianism as normative. We must consistently and faithfully teach about God's commands on this ungodly practice and help those with such orientation to seek deliverance and pastoral counsel.
It was also our great delight to welcome to our meeting, the Rt. Rev Bob Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the USA, and Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership which is a fellowship of about 11 Anglican groups that are determined to maintain the Biblical and historic convictions of our faith, including CANA (also represented at this meeting by our own Bishop Martyn Minns). We have declared ourselves to be in full communion with the emerging province of the Anglican Church of North America, praying that they will remain solidly rooted in the foundations of our faith.
We have expressed our grave concerns over the relentless aggression against Christians in the North of Nigeria and have again drawn the attention of our governments to this unhappy scenario. We are calling for a national conference of all stakeholders to deal with the issue of religious intolerance and guarantee a peaceful and just future for our beloved country. We especially call on our members in the National Assembly to keep alert to this threat to our corporate existence. Most of all we call on our churches to pray earnestly about the future of our nation.
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA
THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, D.D, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.
ANOTHER WAKE UP CALL TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD
That the Christian Church is today facing challenges on many fronts is an understatement. As the world is suffering a time of great economic distress, churches are dividing over the authority of the Bible and the place of the ancient creeds of the Christian Church. We are literally torn apart over issues pertaining to human sexuality, sin and salvation. And as we prepare to celebrate Easter, many among us are confused about the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the grave, and some will hear Easter sermons which will tickle their ears with curious doctrines designed to gain favour in a post modern generation.
Added to these complications and challenges is the global growth and agenda of a resurgent Islam. No longer are the painful experiences of Christians who are suffering at the hands of Islam confined to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, they are increasing and alarmingly occurring in the West.
In her recently published testimony, The Imam's Daughter, "Hannah Shah" describes her life in north England where she converted from Islam to Christianity. She writes among other things about threats to her life, all in accordance with the Islamic Law of apostasy.
The Anglican bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, a vocal and dogged fighter for the Christian faith has been under police protection after he and his family received death threats when he claimed that parts of Britain had become "no-go areas" for non-Muslims.
Most people in the West take for granted the right of individuals to change their religion. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the freedom to change religion or belief. But, in Sharia [Islamic] Law, adult male apostates suffer the death penalty and there are many cases where zealous Islamic leaders take the law into their own hands and carry out execution of apostates who are believed to have committed blasphemy against Islam.
Added to this suffering is the agenda of Moslem leaders to impact every part of Western society with Islamic doctrine and the implementation of Sharia Law. Numerous Muslim leaders in the United States have articulated that Islam's agenda is to be dominant in religious and political life.
Unable to determine how best to deal with Islam, leaders from the political arena and now the Church are capitulating to Islam in an effort to establish man-made peace and cohesion in society.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams recently reiterated his belief that it 'seems unavoidable' that some parts of Sharia would be introduced into the British legal system -- two legal systems in a sovereign nation! Earlier this month he stated that a 'number of fairly senior people' shared his view.
Christians in Nigeria acutely understand the challenges associated with Shari'a Law. In this country, 12 of the 36 states have introduced and implemented Shari'a Law and thus discriminate against non-Moslems and women who have been reduced to the status of second-class citizens in their fatherland. In the last 22 years the country has witnessed over 20 religious crises resulting in worshippers being prevented from attending church services, Christian properties and churches have been burnt and destroyed and not a few Christians have been maimed and killed. In a recent development Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima has called for the total Islamization of Nigeria. This attitude threatens the very existence of the Nigerian nation.
Sadly, amidst all of these very difficult and challenging circumstances, evangelical leaders in the West are divided about how to respond to a resurgent Islam. Some Christian leaders have taken offense at the writing and position of fellow Christian brethren and some have traded shots at each other across the Internet on blogs and websites. In this totally unnecessary battle of words some individuals have been wounded and hurt, others have felt misunderstood and maligned.
Such behaviour only strengthens the hand of the opponent. Those faithful to the historic Christian faith are already fighting many battles on many fronts.
Be reminded that those who never wished the Church well have always sought to divide the faithful and turn Christian against Christian. This we all know has weakened the church is position to confront evil and injustice. As a result, the Church is distracted and u!1willing and in some cases un1able to declare the life giving, life transforming, hope filled, gospel message - a message that has been entrusted to us - a gospel which evangelical Christians must never compromise. Jesus declared, "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."
Though Islam is growing in the West and with demographic shift in its favour, it is likely to grow even faster; the Christian Church must wake up to its prophetic role and remind all that it has a message that will change the world. The Judeo-Christian heritage of most Western nations provides a proven and tested foundation for challenging the abuses of human rights, suffering and injustice.
I appeal to you, brethren, in the name of our only Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ, that all of you ,agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind 'and thought.
If we are to be united, then, let us be one in our confession of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our adherence to the authority of the Bible, and our agreement about the seriousness of the 'perilous' times in which we live. If disagreements arise, let them not be at the expense of standing for the truth and the prophetic voice of the church.
Rather than investing your God-given money, time and energy into unprofitable arguments, paying for publicity for point scoring, leaders of the Christian Church must commit every possible and available resource to faithful proclamation of the gospel message, which has once for all been entrusted to the saints.
The LORD be with you all in the fullness of His power and grace.