(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion has consecrated six new Bishops and presented one Archbishop. They are Bishops Ndubuisi Obi for Nnewi Diocese, Seyi Pirisola for Diocese on the coast, Olugbenga Babatunji for Osun Diocese, Joshua Foluso Taiwo for Oke-Osun Diocese, Benjamin Chinedum Okeke for Orlu Diocese, and Geoffrey Ibeabuchi for Umuahia Diocese. The Bishop of Awka Diocese, now the Most Rev. Alex Ibezim was also presented as the new Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province on the Niger.
The Consecration service which took place at the Cathedral of St. Peter Anglican Church, Asaba, Delta State had in attendance dignitaries from all works of life, including the Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, the Dean, the Most Rev. Buba Lamido, Archbishops, Bishops, and the House of Clergy. The House of Laity, including the Legal officers of the dioceses were not also left out of the very colourful occasion as they turned up in their full regalia, ably led by the Chancellor for the Church of Nigeria, Odein Ajumogobia SAN and the Registrar for CoN, Barr. Abraham Yisa.
In his sermon, the Most Rev. Bennett Okoro, retiring Bishop of Orlu Diocese charged the newly consecrated Bishops to do more of their teaching by example; adding that they should imitate the humble and selfless lifestyle of Christ. He described the office of a Bishop as a very sacred one that requires the anointing of the Holy Spirit and a very strong personal faith to serve; highlighting the qualities of a Bishop as recorded in the Bible. He said Bishops represent the Diocese in the Church of God and the entire episcopate in his diocese. Therefore, he admonished them not to do anything that they cannot do in their Cope and Mitre; explaining that their supreme aim is to do the will of God in Christ. He said persecution will come, but that they must discipline themselves and look onto God and He will renew their strength.
Archbishop Okoro pointed out that there will be talebearers and petition writers, but he advised the new Bishops to verify every information they receive to avoid punishing others unjustly. The cleric stressed the importance of evangelism, charging the Bishops not be encumbered with administration that they forget evangelism and Church growth. He said Bible study should be emphasized and given priority in the diocese as this would help curb rumour mongering and petition writing; explaining that members don’t attend Bible study and that is why they engage in ungodly practices. He spoke against the merchandizing of the gospel, calling on Bishops to be shepherds to the flock of Christ and not wolves.
The Most Rev. Bennett Okoro decried the shortage of good leadership in Nigeria and in the world today. He said many leaders in Nigeria are not doing what they ought to do and therefore, it is the role of Bishops to call them to order and correct them in love. He expressed sadness at the incessant killings and bloodshed in the land, as well as the unemployment situation in the country, urging church leaders to speak up and address these issues, so as to keep the nation together.
To the glory of God, it was indeed a glorious service; and the magnificent Cathedral building was filled to the brim with guests from all over Nigeria and the diaspora.