SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2011
THE PROVINCE OF CHURCH OF NIGERIA, ANGLICAN COMMUNION 32 YEARS AFTER
The birth of Province of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion precisely on the feast of St. Mathias, 24th February, 1979 brought joy and celebration within the Communion. It was formerly under the Province of West Africa. At the inception, the first Archbishop and Primate was, Most Rev. Timothy Omotayo Olufosoye 1979-1989. As a foundational Primate he did his best to provide the required leadership a young province needed and her teething problems he sincerely grappled with.
The mantle of leadership of the Province after him, fell on Most Rev. Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye, 1988-1999. He encouraged creation of Dioceses and innovated by including Missionary Dioceses to ensure that unchurched areas, mainly where Anglican presence was not felt to be felt and by this the gospel mandate of Matt. 28v19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”, was kept alive. A man from a humble beginning and this reflected as he led the flock of Christ and consolidated on the gains of the first Primate.
By 1999-2009 emerged Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola who wanted to retire earlier from Primacy but was prevailed upon by the house of bishops to extinguish his tenure. His tenure saw a lot of dynamism and outstanding leadership qualities. If it were to be in the army, it could be said he fought more battles. He raised the number on full-fledged and Missionary Dioceses to a crescendo. He was in the fore-front in the war against Homosexuals that arose in the world wide Anglican Church, an affront to biblical standards. He played a leading role in the global south and ensured that Church of Nigeria was among the Provinces that went to Jerusalem to seek the face of God on the way forward of the future of Anglican Church particularly as it concerns Church of Nigeria. Thank God he had a wonderful successor, in the person of, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh.
Most Rev. Okoh has just ascended the throne, but he is adjudged spiritual, focused, evangelically inclined and highly disciplined. To this great man of God the beloved communion will draw extensively from his priestly and military backgrounds. He is expected to reposition the Church of Nigeria and give it the required leadership it deserves at this time of her existence.
Therefore, looking at the Province of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), 32 years after, we can say without fear of contradiction that a lot has been achieved and is still being achieved mainly in the areas of spirituality, infrastructural development, robust personnel and membership, etc. There is no doubt that the Anglican Church in Nigeria now is among one of the fastest growing churches. It is on record that the church more than ever is focused and spiritually alive and attentive to the physical and spiritual needs of her overflowing membership.
It is to the credit of the church that most of her bishops and lay members are now envy of some who erroneously left the communion thinking that the Anglican Church in Nigeria was a dead church. I hope they do not only stop in regret but they need courageously to throw away the toga of shame and return back to the communion where the presence of God is daily felt. Afterall, Jesus said ‘those who come to me I will in no wise cast away’.
As we sincerely rejoice with the Province of Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) in her 32 years of existence (with 14 Provinces under it and about 164 Dioceses), it is hoped that all (Clergy and Lay) will work and continue to work for a sustained spiritual and physical development of the Province. May the saints be encouraged with the words of the Lord of the church:
“… Well done, good and faithful
servant. You have been faithful
with a few things; I will put you
in charge of many things. Come
and share your master’s happiness”.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,