SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2014.
THE BISHOP: AN OVERSEER, EVANGELIST ADMINISTRATOR AND A PASTOR
‘Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock,’ I Pet. 5v2-3.
AS the 2014 Bishops’ retreat kicks off at the Centre from January 6 to 11, the Primate, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has chosen the theme, The Bishop: An Overseer, Evangelist, Administrator and a Pastor, to engage the minds of Archbishops and Bishops of Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion). For him, the theme calls for personal and sober reflection over the work of a Bishop in a given area or a Diocese. Like the Apostle Peter, he would wish that Bishops should be shepherd to the flock of God.
It is worthy to note that the timing of this theme is superb particularly coming at a time when most persons are trying to misunderstand the office of a Bishop in God’s own Church. To some negative thinkers, the office is that of luxury and commanding of influence rather than that of service, charity and humility as typified by the chief shepherd.
Jesus, our chief shepherd, had noted: ‘Son of man came to serve and not to be served and to give His life as a ransom to many,’ Mk 10v45. He further demonstrated the attitude of a servant-leader when He washed the feet of His disciples, Jn 13v5. Through this act, we learn the unforgettable lesson that true greatness lies in service.
Apostle Peter insists and rightly too that a Bishop is a shepherd and should feed the flock: Jn 21v16, Acts 20v28, Eph. 4v11. He feeds the flock on the word of God and not on Ecclesiastical debris. It is also expected of him to exercise oversight function in building up the Church. He must play this role to avoid disorder or conflict in the body of Christ. Furthermore, a Bishop serves willingly and eagerly too in obedience to God and should not base his service or services on shameful gain (money). The aim according to Apostle Peter is to be a good example to the flock.
Indeed, the consecration of an Anglican Bishop reveals that such an office is a weighty one and this could be deduce on the day of a Bishop’s consecration, the Primate before giving the pastoral staff to him says: ‘take this Staff. Be a shepherd and not a wolf to the flock of Christ; feed them and do not devour them. Seek the lost, uphold the weak, restore health to the sick and lift the downtrodden. Ensure discipline, but forget not mercy. Be so merciful and be not too remiss. May the spirit of the Chief Shepherd guide you. Amen.’ So, you can see from the import of this charge that the office of a Bishop is not all that of money making or commanding of influence, but one that is imbued with service, charity and humility.
We sincerely commend the Bishops as they gather once again at the Centre to take stock of their work as overseers to the flock of God. We thank God for the choice of the topics slated for discussion and the Bible study. They include: The Bishop Being An Example Of The Good Shepherd; The Bishop, A Pastor Of Pastors And Their Families; Understanding The Concept Of Servant Leadership, Episcopal Protocols; And The Bishop And The Stewardship Of Personal, Time, Money And Family among others. Some of the speakers are: (Archbishop Peter Jensen from Australia, Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Fape of Remo Diocese and retired Bishops, Rt. Revds. M. O. Owadayo and Vincent O. Muoghere) as they share with their brother Bishops some of their experiences while at the mission field.
Therefore, we bid welcome to all our Archbishops and Bishops to this yearly retreat. We wish them God’s blessings and a successful deliberation. Happy New Year, Your Graces and My Lords!Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.