(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
“Baptism is a rite of admission into the household of God.”
This was the submission of the Primate of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh at the service of Baptism for Great Ifeanyichukwu Prince Akunna, son of the Ven. and Mrs. Ifeanyi Akunna, which was held at the Chapel of the Advent, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja. The Primate observed that these days there were several doctrines and teachings that have brought confusion into the Church, hence the need for a sermon during infant baptism. He described the Holy Baptism as an initiation into a new life with Christ and death to sin, adding that the position of the Anglican Church is to baptize a child at a young age. He pointed out that Baptism is equivalent to the circumcision done in the Old Testament and similar to the time in the New Testament, where Jesus laid hands on the children that came to Him and blessed them.
The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria noted that oftentimes people focus on developing the physical aspects of a child and neglect that of the spiritual, which has produced individuals in the society who are not balanced. He said that they forget that when God created man, He made man to have a body and a spirit and therefore when one aspect is neglected that individual becomes incomplete. Primate Okoh explained that when one focuses on building the physical aspects of a child that child will be carnally minded, lacking understanding of the spiritual things of God that can only be spiritually discerned. Thus, he advised parents to not only train their children physically, in terms of education, dressing and the likes, but also train them in the things of God.
The Cleric emphasized the importance of baptism in the Church, pointing out that without it being done, an individual is not recognized as an authentic member of the Church. According to him, baptism is done to bring in the child into a new life in Christ and to prepare the child for the journey ahead. Archbishop Okoh stated that several decisions are made for a child at infancy and yet, when it comes to spiritual things such as infant baptism, people claim that the child needs to be allowed to grow up and make that decision. He said that baptism is essential, so that the child can be introduced into the Church and thereafter be brought up in the faith by the parents and God parents. Primate Okoh concluded his message with a warning to parents not to think that baptism rules out their role to live exemplary lives for their children, because according to him, a child will imitate what he or she sees in his or her environment.
The service also had in attendance priests and members of the Anglican Diocese of Abuja who had come to rejoice with the family of one of their own. The Ven. and Mrs. Ifeanyi Akunna are currently serving in the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life camp, Abuja and the Ven. Akunna is also the personal secretary to the Primate of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion.