SUNDAY MARCH 27, 2011
DIOCESE OF NNEWI HOLDS CLERGY RETREAT
BY REV. CANON GABRIEL KPAGBAN
Quite unusual to the backdrop of our present day societal activities, associated with hustles and bustles, the need for men of God to access serene facilities where they can withdraw for spiritual refreshment is pertinent. The Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, belonging to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) played host to the Diocese of Nnewi (Anglican Communion) from the Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger, Anambra State.
The clergy retreat which was held from 14th to 17th March 2011, was led by the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Godwin. I. N. Okpala (JP) had the theme: “Purpose Driven Church” and touched topics such as: I will build my church, “Fulfilling your vision in ministry”, The power of vision and lost dreams.
The clergy retreat aimed at bringing Anglican clergy of the Diocese of Nnewi together to expose and challenge them towards appreciating the importance of purpose driven church.
The keynote speaker was the Bishop of Gombe Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Henry Ndukuba. He dwelt on the theme of the retreat: “Purpose Driven Church” with a particular emphasis on the subtopic “I will build my church”. He noted from Matthew 16:13-20, that Apostle Peter who confessed Jesus as the Christ by divine revelation, was once unstable by nature, but when he turned to Jesus Christ, he was made stable as rock. His emphasis was that if we must walk according to God’s purpose, we must be willing to change our world view and submit totally to the will of God revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the owner and builder of the church, would do it, his own way. We must allow him to build his church.
Bishop Okpala expressed delight at the effort of the clergy for organizing such a wonderful retreat. He appreciated the Chairman of the planning committee, Ven. Dan Azodo and his team for successfully planning and executing the retreat, and for their choice of venue. He asked the entire clergy to use the time of the retreat which fall into the church season of Lent to ask for the mercies of God upon God’s people and many nations of the world, where there are terrible situations. He made a remark that since God has brought us into this year 2011, with a specific purpose; we have to ask Him to reveal his purpose to us, which would enable us to be relevant in the place of our assignments. “We have to ask God for the grace of survival in this ministry and for divine visitation particularly in the retreat,” the Bishop stated.
In a related development, Ven. Adichie spoke extensively on the topic fulfilling your vision in ministry. Focusing on Genesis 37:5-9 as the text of the sermon, he urged participants to receive vision from the Lord and effectively work towards fulfilling it. He emphasized that our dreams of today are the landmarks of tomorrow’s achievements.
Joseph was not able to receive his dreams just because he slept at night, or can we consider it just a mental images, rather it was what God wished to achieve in the world through his servant. Even in the house of his master, Potipher, he had challenges with his dreams. Dreams are good, but big dreams would always meet with big challenges or hard times.
He explained further that there is no achievement in life without a dream. You may have attained position in life, but is quite different from performance and fulfillment. It is one thing to have a dream and another to fulfill it. We must arise and make contributions to the kingdom of God where we belong, for in doing this, we would achieve our very purpose in ministry. There is no way we can achieve in ministry without focus. We cannot just be in the ministry without goals. We must have goals or aims and honestly labour towards achieving the same. We must match our dreams with necessary efforts. If actually we have determined to make it in ministry, we are not just to work hard, but working harder. Another important point is to avoid every measure of distractions from friends, misguided interest and past failures. Our dreams must be alive to take us to our destinations. There is still hope for everyone of us. Knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves are very necessary in fulfilling our vision in ministry. Bearing in mind that there are much spaces to contain everyone of us.
The Bible study session examined the power of vision. It was discovered that vision is a blueprint of what God want us to do for Him. The purpose of our existence is our vision and it is provided by God. That every minister of God ought to have a vision from God which he must pursue vigorously at all cost towards pleasing God.
Another speaker, Ven. Dr. Ernest Ezunezu gave a sermon based on the lost dreams, during the Wednesday Holy Eucharistic service. He charged all Christians to abstain from things which would make up for lost dreams, such as pride, carelessness, unrighteousness, selfishness, dependence on mortals and mundane things, corruption, immortality and other vices which may act as a catalyst to our Christian faith.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the retreat, the group noted the follows points:
1. To enjoin all clergy to acknowledge the builder and owner of the Church, this is Jesus Christ the son of God.
2. The retreat agrees that Vision is a blueprint of what God wants us to do for Him. The purpose of our existence is our vision and it is provided by God. That every minister of God ought to have a vision from God which he must pursue vigorously at all cost towards pleasing God who has called him and not necessarily pleasing men.
3. The retreat admonishes that ministers of God and followers should not be discouraged when faced with challenges in the cause of fulfilling their God given visions. No matter the hurdles one faces in life he should not waiver in his resolve to achieve his dreams. Joseph in the Bible, Abraham Lincoln and Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr., both from United States of America were good examples of men who never wavered in their dreams, for they encountered challenges, but their dreams were realized at the appropriate times.
4. The clergy are called upon to abstain from things which would make up for lost dreams, such as pride, carelessness, unrighteousness, selfishness, dependence on mortals and mundane things, corruptions, immorality, etc. Such vices if not checkmated might later act as a catalyst to our Christian faith and visions.
5. The clergy are called upon to step up their obedience and commitment to the Lord. They are to see themselves as servants and labourers in God’s Vineyard through the new covenant in the blood of Jesus.
6. The retreat called on the clergy to be relevant in their local church congregations, by being rooted in the Scriptures and making effective use of the privileges given to them by God to serve the needs of the people of God.
7. The Clergymen are charged not to lose sight of the Lenten season of the Church as this time calls for repentance of our sins, humility and prayers. Repentance from our sins, ignorance and weaknesses. Humility for those of us whose progress and achievements have entered into their heads. Prayers for our local church congregations, the body of Christ and nations of the world undergoing some natural disasters like Japan where several people have lost their lives from Tsunami and earthquakes.
8. The retreat encourages all Christians to take their health and survival very serious, since our lives are very dear to us and to our Creator.
9. The clergy prayed for our nation and called on Nigerians to be just and vote for the right candidates in the forthcoming election.
Ven. Dr. Stanley Awuzie gave the closing charge on Thursday morning before the departure of the group. He took his text from Eph. 6:10, which he called the ‘finest gospel.’ He charged retreatants to be strong in order to contend with the forces out there in the parishes and overcome them and also to be resolved to making a positive impact in the lives of those they were commissioned to serve. He said it is the acquisition of the knowledge of God that will make them to be strong and do exploit.