(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
“Christianity is not a monument; it is a movement, a flowing stream that is always flowing.”
This was the submission of the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion and Bishop of the Abuja Anglican Diocese at the dedication service of St. Philip’s Anglican Church and Clergy Quarters, Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja. He added that any Church that does not flow has ceased to be a Church, because according to him, the gospel ought to be passed on from one generation to another and from one congregation to another. Hence, he challenged the members of the new Church to endeavor that they also plant and build a Church elsewhere, so that the transfer continues.
Primate Okoh said that the miracle of the beautiful edifice that was being dedicated is nothing but a result of obedience. He mentioned the new group of Churches that had been built and dedicated in the Abuja diocese, pointing out that all of these Churches were born because the Priests and members of the Churches were obedient to his instruction to build. The Cleric said that despite the situation of the country, Nigeria, these individuals were willing to forge ahead, using their resources to ensure the commencement and completion of the requested Church buildings. Therefore, he commended all the Priests, especially the Ven. Ephraim Akanya, who is the Vicar of the St. Matthew’s Church, Gwarimpa, Abuja that built the Church being dedicated.
He likened their obedience to that of the widow at Zarephath, who obeyed the command of the prophet to bring food even though there was scarcity in the land, to Naaman who received his healing as a result of his obedience to the instruction of the prophet and to the disciples who obeyed the instruction of Jesus at the wedding at Cana, stating that it shall be well with anyone who is obedient to God and His word.
Speaking on the topic of dedication in the Anglican Church, Archbishop Okoh said that dedication is carried out to expel demonic forces from the building and hand it over to God, so that His presence may dwell therein. He emphasized that after dedication, the Church becomes the property of God and therefore, anyone coming into the church is expected to be humble. According to him, when one comes to Church, one comes face to face with the Creator, who is equal to no one. Therefore, he charged all to let humility be seen in all that they do in the house of God, explaining that God exalts the humble and resists the proud.
The Bishop of Abuja Anglican Diocese opined that individuals come to Church when they are joyful, depressed, confused, persecuted or in need of something. Thus, he prayed that whenever anyone comes to St. Philip’s Church, God would meet them at the point of their need. He debunked the erroneous teaching that God is far away, which is why evil is thriving in the world, stating that God is near His people and that the cause of confusion in the world is man’s inhumanity to man. Primate Okoh concluded with an appreciation to all those who had contributed towards the planting of that Church, praying that God would bless them and replenish their purse. He further prayed that Nigeria will rise up from the recession and that the leaders will have the strength to stop the evil that is going on in the country.
Highpoints of the dedication service was the dedication of the Church building that has a gallery, two Vestries, four offices, two mini conference halls, media room, and a basement of 800 capacity; dedication of the Font, Lectern, Pulpit, Prayer Desks, Choir Stall, Chancel Step, Holy Table and the new Clergy Quarters that contains six flats; the reading of the deed of dedication by the Diocesan Registrar, Barr. Mrs. Kehinde Ajoni; the reading of the address by the Chairman of the Building Committee, Mr. Samson Oderinde; special prayers for the building and maintenance committee, project completion committee, and central planning committee; special renditions by the Choir and the vote of thanks by the Vicar of St. Matthew’s Church Gwarimpa, Abuja, the Ven. Ephraim Akanya.