New Bishop Vows to Revitalize Oji River Diocese

  • Korede Akintunde
  • March 26, 2024

(From Ejiofor Eze in Orji River)

The new Bishop of the Oji River Diocese (Anglican Communion) in Enugu State, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ikechukwu Egbuonu has vowed to address what he described as the concerning resurgence of idol worship in the Oji River and its neighboring communities.

Bishop Egbuonu emphasized the need for “effective inroads” into every corner of the communities, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to recover these areas for Christ.

He made this pledge in his inaugural homily delivered shortly after his enthronement at the Cathedral Church of St Paul, Holy Hill, Oji River, on Sunday, March 24, 2024.

Lamenting the prevalence of idol worship and other forms of moral decay in the area, and the harm he said such practices had caused the youth, the bishop called on the clergy, laity in the diocese, and the entire Enugu State to join hands with him. They should aim to use the word of God to reclaim the youths from idolatry and other social ills.

The Rt Rev Dr Egbonu, whose homily focused on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, likened the episode to his arrival in the Oji River Diocese. He explained that God assigns everyone a purpose according to their capacity, but questioned whether such individuals were prepared to take responsibility.

He said that God, in His divine wisdom, brought him to Oji River and Ezeagu, among other assignments, to dismantle the works of darkness: idol worship, principalities, and powers, which he remarked were making a comeback among the youth.

“God planted us here in the Oji River for a purpose. And that purpose must be achieved,” he assured, prophesying that the people would equally fulfill their purposes in life.

“I am committed to returning Oji River to God. I have met prominent people from Oji River and Enugu State indigenes, including sitting and immediate past state governors, to join me in the crusade towards the restoration of the worship of God in this diocese,” Bishop Egbonu said.

He strongly condemned what he called the return to idol worship in Oji River and some parts of Igboland. He vowed to curb the trend in the area by re-orientating the youth, whom he identified as the driving force behind the resurgence of idol worship, or “feign worship” as it is termed here.

Bemoaning the regrettable consequences of indulging in idol worship, the bishop called the practice “the handiwork of the devil,” saying, “No man was born to be an idol worshipper. But because of the vacuum created by the fall of man, man thereafter became deceived into idolatry.

“However, Jesus came as a second Adam to liberate and re-establish man, and having paid our debt, He enjoined us to go forth into the world and proclaim His Gospel.

“I came to Oji River to be a co-labourer, to re-establish His kingdom. Therefore, I plead with you to join me in this task; the task of recovering our young people for Christ,” Bishop Egbonu requested.

He disclosed that, as part of his efforts towards the restoration of the worship of God in Oji River, he had developed strategic initiatives to establish a hospital, and a school of nursing science, and invest heavily in agriculture to provide jobs for youths and women.

Earlier, Bishop Egbuonu, while being formally enthroned as the Bishop of Oji River Diocese, pledged to keep watch over the flock of God under his care.

He was reminded that the Holy Spirit had appointed him shepherd “to encourage the faithful, restore the lost and build up the bond of Christ,” so that when the Chief Shepherd would appear, he might receive the unfading crown of glory.

In his oath of fidelity, Bishop Egbonu swore to observe all the statutes and customs of the Cathedral Church of St Paul as well as diligently uphold the canonical obedience to the Primate of the Church of Nigeria and his successors in office in all things lawful and honest.

The enthronement was witnessed by many Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Communion, including the Archbishop of Aba Ecclesiastical Province, the immediate past Bishop of Oji River Diocese, the Rt Rev Amos Madu, and the retiring Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, the Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma.

Others included the Bishop on the Niger, the Rt Rev Dr. Owen Nwokolo and his wife, Dr. Mrs Elsie Nwokolo, and many other serving and retired bishops with their wives.

Prominent personalities from Anambra State who were at Oji River to show solidarity with Bishop Egbuonu were the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Somtochukwu Udeze, the National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Sly Ezeokenwa, politicians and business tycoons; Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu and Chief Chika Okafor of Chikason Group, among others.
A former Governorship candidate in Enugu State and an indigene of Oji River, Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu, and many other prominent sons and daughters of Oji River were present and pledged support for the new bishop.

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