The Ibru international ecumenical centre, Agbarha-Otor  was full of activities again as the Diocese of Asaba (Angican Cummunion) held her clergy and wives retreat on Wednesday 17th – Saturday 20th of November, 2010. The retreat was led by the bishop of the diocese and his wife, the Rt. Rev. and Mrs. J.N. Mogekwu.

The theme of the retreat was ‘The Clergy and His Home Life’. This year’s theme was chosen with the aim of further developing  a closer tie between  the clergy, wife and his children because if the home is in order, the clergy can have the peace of mind to serve the flock of God committed to his charge.

In his address, the bishop compared God’s decision to intimate Abraham of His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah to that of the clergyman informing his wife of decisions he would want to make in the course of his ministry. He charged the clergy to work hard to bring their families to work in the direction of the Lord. He prayed for grace for all so that they would be enabled to fulfill their ministry begining from their homes. He however warned that he would not condone any act of immorality on the part of the clergy or their wives as his administration has zero telerance for immorality.

Guest preachers and resource persons during the retreat were the Bishop of Warri Diocese, the Rt. Revd Christian Ide; he spoke extensively on the theme and encouraged the clergymen to ensure that they give attention to their homes.

While leading the Bible study on the theme of the retreat, Ven. Dr. Anthony M.O. Pessu opined that though the issue of the Clergy and his home life is generally the same as every christian man and his home life; the saying that ‘to whom much is given much is expected’ holds true for the clergyman. He charged the clergy and their wives to always pray because the devil and his agents are specially focused on the clergyman both to pull him down and to fully publicize such negative news.

In a related development, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okeke, the wife of the bishop On the Niger said that if the retreatants can get their spiritual houses in order, they were on their way to helping others put theirs in order too. “Get your spiritual house in order. Make sure you are experiencing a vibrant christian life. I guarantee you that you will be so excited about it that you will want to share the good news with your members”, she concluded.

Another interesting aspect of this year’s retreat was the special presentation on nutritional tips and the lecture on Finance, Accounting and Accountability: The Christian perspective. Mrs. Ify Ononye talked on the nutritional tips; she counselled the clergy and their wives that while it is indeed lawful to eat and drink, not all are beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12). According the her, the beneficial are expensive, and one needs to spend to keep healthy. She ended by advocating for improved salary, for improved health among the clergy.

While speaking on the topic- finance, accounting and accountability, Sir, E. Azu Mafiana told the participants that they should faithfully apply God’s principles to everything with which they have been entrusted. He said one who manages money and resources according to the principles and guidelines that God has outlined in His word is a good steward. According to him that was the meaning of accountability: if one is proved faithful, God would make him more fruitful. He exposed them to different methods of financial management.

The retreatants had time to participate in different type to games. Much time was also spent on worship, praises and prayers. Prayers were offered for the expansion of the diocese, the church of God, the nation, and for the success of the 2011 elections.

The chairman of the planning committee, Rev. Canon  C.I. Okonkwo expressed delight at the conduciveness of the centre. He thanked God for the success of the retreat and appreciated the efforts of the workers at the centre. He noted that it was the first time the clergy and their wives were coming together for a retreat under one umbrella, thereby making it a unique one. In a rare show of kindness, the diocese donated the sum of N50,000.00 to the centre to help build its website.

The retreat came to an end on Saturday with a Holy Communion service  conducted by Ven. C.O. Aniamaka. In his sermon Ven. F.C. Okonkwo encouraged all to go home and maintain strong family ties.

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