COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE FIRST GENERAL MEETING/CONFERENCE OF THE DIOCESAN AND PROVINCIAL ECUMENISM DIRECTORS HELD FROM 9TH TO 12TH JUNE, 2015 AT IBRU ECUMENICAL CENTRE AGBARHA-OTOR, DELTA STATE.
The First General Meeting/Conference of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocesan /Provincial Ecumenism Directors met under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the National Ecumenism Director of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Ven. Dr. Princewill Ireoba at the IBRU Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, in Delta State from 9th – 12th of June, 2015.
The Conference which has fifty-three participants drawn from the Dioceses and Provinces of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) deliberated on issues concerning the unity of the church and other challenges geared towards achieving paradigm shift in ecumenical work in our times.
The conference sincerely appreciates the leadership and vision of the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh at whose approval the conference was convened and who also sent his Goodwill and Primatial blessing through a representative. His sense of commitment towards fostering the unity of the church especially in times like these is unassailable.
We were honoured with the presence of Rt. Rev. D.K. Bello, a delegate to the WCC 10th Assembly, a Commissioner of Nigeria Anglican Roman Catholic Commission and the Bishop of the Diocese of Otukpo, who also presented an inspiring and challenging paper on Ecumenism, among other presentations.
In consideration of the focus of the conference which was “A Changing Global Ecumenical Landscape”, our eyes were opened to the new challenges to the Ecumenical endeavour and the need to “change with changing times, while keeping with changeless principles”, and we were reminded that Ecumenism is not to fight for our right, but to find a meeting point to move the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ forward with others.
At the end, the conference issued this communiqué:
- Unity of the Church:
It is the desire of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 17:21 that all may be one. In order to fulfil this desire, the conference calls on churches all over the world to embrace Ecumenism and see other Christians as brothers and sisters. This can be achieved by reaching out to other denominations and finding ground for working together for the propagation of the gospel of Christ.
- Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace :
In a world of injustice, justice and peace are realities that will reign in the world which God plans to achieve. The conference therefore calls on all to join hands towards the achievement and fulfilment of these plans in the salvific and transformative journey towards the eschatological kingdom.The conference calls on all churches to respond positively towards this partnership to enable the oppressed obtain justice and bring the desired peace to our troubled society.The need for the church to further partner with Non-Governmental Organizations eg. ICPC, Legal Aid Council, Code of Conduct Bureau, NAPTIP and other relevant agencies cannot be over emphasized.
- Restating the Mission of the Church:
In view of the fact that the church in our time is still evolving, considering the fragmentation and intolerance to each other, the conference calls on the churches to “seek unity in the essentials and practise charity as means in other areas” of her relationship.
- Evil and Rebellion in our Society:
Despite the increase in the number of churches in our times, evil and rebellion are still growing in geometric progression. The practical implication of the gospel is pitifully negligible.Therefore the conference calls on all preachers to continue to preach the undiluted gospel of Christ, as it is the power of God unto salvation of the world.
- Preparing our Children for tomorrow:
As a way to prepare our children towards achieving unity, the conference observes the steady separation of children and youth from adult worship, and calls on the church to create opportunity for all age brackets to find a common meeting point in worship. This will prepare the children to appreciate togetherness in our journey of faith.
- New Ecumenical Landscape:
It has been observed that transformation of world Christianity is not only a gift of the Spirit, but also a challenge to the ecumenical movement. The conference therefore calls on the church to rise to these new emerging realities, by creating more opportunities and fresh initiative for Christian unity.
- Review of curriculum:
In consideration of the emphasis placed on the unity of the church which necessitated the appointment of the ecumenism directors, the conference calls on the relevant authorities to review the curriculum of the seminaries to include Ecumenism as course of study. This will lay a solid foundation towards realization of church unity.
- Ecumenical discourse:
It is a clear vision to seek a way of fostering issues that unite the church. This is possible through Ecumenical discourse. The conference therefore calls on all churches to expose her ministers to ecumenical discourse; this will surely foster the desired unity.
The mind and prayer of our Lord Jesus is that “they may be one, as you Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that you have sent me. I in them and you in me in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and recognize that you sent me and that you have loved them even as you have loved me. The conference calls on all Christians to love one another as a mark of Christian identity.
VEN. DR. PRINCEWILL IREOBA
Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith
Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
- Ikechukwu Ihemtuge (On the Niger)
- Canon Samson Akingbade (Sokoto Diocese)
- Paul Farotimi (Oke-Osun Diocese)
- Charles Abanum (Ndokwa Diocese)
- (Capt.) Sam Akinade (Benin Diocese)
- Canon John Oricha (Lokoja Diocese)