(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion has consecrated four new Bishops, in the persons of the Venerable Emmanuel Adekola for Igbomina Diocese, the Venerable Dr. Stephen Fagbemi for Owo Diocese, the Venerable Emmanuel Morris for Maiduguri Diocese, and the Venerable Emmanuel Onsachi for Okene Diocese.
The consecration service which took place at the Cathedral Church of St. James the Great, Oke-Bola, Ibadan in Oyo state also featured the announcement of the new Dean of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, in the person of the Most Rev. Edmund Akanya, Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna and Bishop of Kebbi Diocese and that of the Most Rev. Latunji Lasebikan, Bishop of Ondo Diocese as the re-elected Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ondo.
In his sermon, the Rt. Rev. Olubayo Sowale Ph.D, Bishop of Ilesa Diocese pointed out that a Bishop’s first responsibility is to be faithful to the calling from God and the Church and not to seek to please people; adding that a Bishop who seeks popularity is doomed to fail. Quoting from the scriptures, Bishop Sowale highlighted the qualities of a Bishop as recommended by Paul the Apostle, stating that these qualities are to help the Bishop be an example to believers in all spheres of life. He mentioned that a Bishop must be above reproach, husband of one wife, not a lover of money, manage his family well, and have a good reputation with outsiders; and his wife be worthy of respect, temperate and trustworthy. He said a Bishop must be able to like Paul, confidently ask others to imitate him.
Speaking on the Biblical expectations of a Bishop, the Cleric stated that for a Bishop to measure up to the qualifications stipulated in the Bible, he needs the wisdom of God and mentorship of good leaders. According to him, a good Bishop is a precious gift of God to His Church, while a poorly equipped Bishop, one who lacks understanding of the office or the skills and attitude to carry it out is a serious liability to the Church. He said a Bishop sets the overall tone of the diocese by his words and actions. Hence, he opined that a Bishop who is not up to the task can have a devastating effect on the morale and functioning of the diocese.
The Bishop of Ilesa diocese said that people speak of corruption in Nigeria today because many have not done their jobs as examples of Christ on earth. He pointed out that one can educate one’s children in the school, but without the education and morality in the home, everything is nothing. Therefore, he urged parents, especially mothers to influence their children positively and charged the newly consecrated Bishops to be prayerful, study the word of God, and be disciplined in their thoughts and actions, so as not to suffer regret when their time of service is over.
In an interview after the service, the Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh charged the new Bishops to go out as people who are prepared to pay the sacrifice of leading the people. He urged them to give the people servant leadership that involves sacrifices, personal sacrifices; calling on them to be willing to deny themselves in so many ways in other to offer credible leadership to the people. Primate Okoh added that they should get involved in the prophetic ministry, to watch what is happening in the country and give the people the mind of God concerning issues, without getting involved in partisan politics. Also, the new Bishops expressed their gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve, and optimism about the work they are set to do in their various dioceses.
Present at the service were the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Bishops of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, traditional leaders, the Governor of Ondo state, His Excellency Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, who is also the chancellor of Owo diocese, the chancellor of the Church of Nigeria, Chief Odein Ajumogobia SAN, family members of the newly consecrated Bishops, friends and well-wishers.