SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2014.
PREFERMENTS IN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
The Church of Nigeria is part of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church worshipping the One, True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic Creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, she has borne witness to Christian truth in her historic formularies. As part of her inherited tradition is this aspect of preferment. Necessarily from the body of the clergy in a given diocese, Archbishops and Bishops take their turn to elevate clergymen to the rank of Canons and Archdeacons by way of preferment.
Preferment means: ‘to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation’. Therefore, when from among priests some are preferred it gives them the room to move to the rank of Canons or Archdeacons. At the service of collation and installation of Archdeacons and Canons on Sunday7th December, 2014 at the Cathedral of St John Ekwulobia in Anambra State, the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Niger and the Bishop of Aguata Diocese, Most Rev. Christian Efobi, observed on this subject matter of preferment that it is the prerogative of Bishops to encourage hard working priests within his domain. He argued rightly that such is not a reward for a job well done but an encouragement to the person concerned and at the same time to challenge others to aspire to be recognized in due season.
There is high consideration for merit, productivity and spirituality for one to attain such position. It is the considered view of Most Rev Efobi that age in the ministry may not necessarily be a barrier to an exceptional priest in getting the attention of his Bishop as to be elevated. Yes, a stone that fits the wall does not need to remain in the ditch forever.
However, bishops may decide to use the occasion of synod, convocations, or board meetings or even pastoral visitation in a station, parish or archdeaconry to make proclamations for elevation of pastors. It is interesting to note that such elevation in most dioceses of the Anglican Church attracts extra income to those so elevated. Most Rev Efobi was satisfied that those whom he collated as canons and archdeacons on that 7th December, 2014 (Rev Canon Decency Chine and Rev Canon Sopuluchukwu Umeojiaka, Ven. David Okpalaononuju and Ven. Emeka Ejinkonye) met the criteria for appointment. He enthused that at the diocesan board were these persons were announced to be preferred; the standing ovation that greeted the announcement was an eloquent testimony of the eligibility of those concerned.
Unfortunately sometimes, some people may bandy around such uncharitable comments especially when they are not picked that those selected may have offered money or arm twisted the hand of the Bishop and so were preferred. We do not seriously subscribe to this figmentation of such person’s thought. The truth remains that if one has the grace, God may position him before his bishop. The story of Modeccaia is still fresh in our mind: ‘for the king could not sleep for his sake’-Esther 6:1
The beauty of preferment in the Anglican Church is that it is an ongoing affair. Some who continue to put in their best and do not loose hope may be surprised when they are not thinking, it may come their way. I think part of the problem is when some peoples mind are permanently fixed on it and they have time frame. When they fail to get it according to their time frame, it may negatively affect their performance but we wish to use this medium to advise that people should relax and do their work and allow the bishop and the Holy Spirit to do their work as and when due. No matter how delay, if God has written that it will come the way of someone, eventually it will come. Those who may therefore engage in back biting, petition writing, slander in order to be noticed and ride through the seemingly disadvantage of others should watch their backs.
We congratulate the Archbishop, Most Rev Christian Efobi and his ever supportive wife, Dame Jane N. Efobi(Nneifunanya) for remembering these men of God at this time.
We also congratulate the recently collated Archdeacons and installed Canons of the Diocese of Aguata and by extension those who are also collated at this time in different dioceses and pray earnestly that the joy of the Advent will continually be their portion now and forever, Amen.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.