2019 SYNOD – A PLEASANT SURPRISE
INTERVIEW WITH THE VEN. EPHRAIM AKANYA
Q: What was your reaction when you were told that your Archdeaconry would host the 2019 Synod?
A: A surprise, but a pleasant one; because we felt that we are not qualified to host the Synod, being the youngest Archdeaconry and an Archdeaconry that has not hosted it before. We were shocked and my response to the Primate when he told me was, “If it pleases the Lord” and he said, “It has already pleased the Lord.” Then, I said, “Except Baba is going to pray for us” and he responded that he has already prayed for us and will continue to do so. I never expected it, but, we welcomed it; personally, I welcomed it and so did the entire members of the Church and the Archdeaconry. So, we swung into action to make sure that everything is a success.
Q: How prepared is the Archdeaconry to host the Synod and what should delegates expect?
A: It is difficult to categorically state that we are prepared, but I want to say that the minimal preparation that is expected from any other Archdeaconry or Church that is asked to host Synod, that is the major elements that are necessary for the successful hosting of any Synod are already in place. The Synod materials are here, and the venue is ready. But you know, we have this limited space in the compound, which I call, “crisis of space,” so we cannot go beyond what we have. Therefore, we are going to improvise and use the facilities that are available in the Church to make sure that things go smoothly and we will do whatever we need to do to make the Synod what it is supposed to be.
It is an Archdeaconry hosting right that we have, so the two other parishes are also involved. There are three parishes that make up Gwarinpa Archdeaconry- St. Matthew’s Church, Gwarinpa, St. Philip’s Church Team 6, and Church of the Resurrection, Kafe; so, all of us are joining hands to make sure that the Synod is hosted properly and we are pulling our resources together, because we are not as large as other Archdeaconries. We are still growing, but we are ready to host this year’s Synod. Even the Primate confessed during his visit to the venue that we are ready.
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced while planning for the Synod?
A: The challenges are enormous, but the major challenge had to do with finance. Hosting a Synod is capital intensive and with the present economic situation in the country, it was very difficult for people to financially contribute. Even some of those that we wanted to invite to do one thing or the other for the Synod asked us to leave them out for now. So, not just donations towards the hosting of the Synod, but also it was difficult getting people to donate during the Synod. Secondly, accommodation, which is mainly for the Bishops. Many Bishops coming requested for accommodation and we could not provide for all of them. We could only cater for those officiating. Also, the locals coming from the rural areas need accommodation and since we do not have the space, we decided to provide mattresses for them and lodge them at another Church. Thirdly, the challenge of space. We had to improvise and decide not to park vehicles in the Church premises. We also wanted to place a big tent within the compound, but we could not because the space is too small, except we get canopies that can enter the space we have. Fourthly, the number of office spaces at the Church are not sufficient for the number we need for feeding of delegates, secretariat and all other Synod activities. Other than these things, we are good to go.
Q: What is your view about this year’s Synod Theme, “Servant Leadership?”
A: The theme is very apt and it is not only apt for the Church, but also the nation and the family unit. That is what we lack today, because many leaders today are very selfish. They are occupying positions for their personal aggrandizement. They are not willing to serve or make sacrifices and they are not willing to humble themselves. They want to remain up there and show who the leader is. Jesus Christ felt that was unnecessary. And, in our homes, if the fathers will see themselves as the chief fathers of their homes and carry out their responsibilities, things will go on well; children will emulate and run with such vision. The same goes for the mother in the home. Also, if the people in government understand that they are supposed to serve the electorates who put them in those positions, they will not focus on accumulating wealth for themselves and thus making things difficult for those they are leading. In the same vein, those doing business, if they recognize that their business is their own sphere of leadership and use it to serve others, things will work in the society. For example, some people travelled recently to the US for medical treatment and after the treatment, the bill was much more than they could afford and the hospital took it upon itself to write to some organizations who willingly wrote off their bill of more than 10,000 USD. Now, that is service that is not self-seeking. That hospital could have decided to hold those patients until they paid, keep the money for themselves or even refuse to treat them until they paid, but the hospital did not, because they needed to render service, save and touch lives. Sadly, this is not so in many hospitals in Nigeria today, mostly because of this capitalist mindset that we have, where we consider money to be everything. Money is not everything in servant leadership, it is about what somebody has to offer; not the gain of services rendered, but what somebody has to offer to improve the lot of others. In Nigeria, we have a very selfish orientation about leadership, where the first thing leaders think about is what they would get from the system rather than what they would do to improve the system and that’s why there is debt of honesty in the society. So, these are things that make me think the theme is very apt and it is good for us in the Church and the larger society.