(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
The Primate of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh has charged Anglicans to keep the identity of the Anglican Church, pointing out that if the Church loses its identity, it dies out. He gave this charge at the gathering organized for eminent Anglicans of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, which was held at the Chapel of the Resurrection, New Episcopal House, Wuye, Abuja. Speaking on the importance of unity of purpose, Primate Okoh pointed out that the Anglican Church is known to work with people of other denominations without discrimination; in other words the Church is open to ecumenism. He however stated that in the bid to embrace and accommodate other denominations, the Church and members must endeavour to maintain their identity as Anglicans. He noted that there is so much religious competition in the land, which should not be; because according to him, no singular denomination can solve the problems in the society.
Primate Okoh observed that there are so many forces trying to trample the Church of God; adding that it is this unity of purpose that can hold the Church together for the future. He stressed that the Church of God is what Jesus Christ described it to be, not what man says it is; explaining that even though a Christian is in the world, he or she must recognize and remember that Christ said that anyone who receives Him as Lord is no longer of the world. He said the moment the Church forgets that she is not of the world, she loses her essence; adding that whatever profession one is engaged in and wherever one is, one must remember the destination, which is eternity with God. He charged eminent Anglicans to remember to spare a thought for eternity, whenever they are making investment in this world, because Christians are not only in the world but also part of the kingdom of God.
The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria said the Anglican Church is experiencing turbulence, wherein there are those who insist on having their own way, even when that way is against God. According to him, many thought the Anglican Church will scatter, but it continues to wax stronger and many who left are coming back. He opined that some persons in the Church behave like unbelievers when they make statements contrary to the word of God; emphasizing that as believers in Christ, there is no option for never, whenever the name of Jesus is involved. He appreciated the organizing committee ably led by Senator Tunde Ogbeha for putting together such a gathering where prominent members of the Church can be involved in making decisions regarding their Church and be informed about the decisions the Church may have taken at its Synod and Standing Committee; explaining that it was essential to invite them so as to also draw their attention to God and remind them of where they will spend eternity.
Describing the gathering as an opportunity for communication and interaction, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh pointed out that there is a level of democracy in the Anglican Church, and as such people are not rebuked for asking questions or seeking explanations. He urged those present to listen to the word of God and follow God’s way. He appealed to them to in whatever they are doing, remember that they belong to a Church that is praying for them and share with their fellow brothers and sisters in times of struggles and dilemma. He charged all to remember that they are going somewhere and walk with that destination in mind, so as not to be cast away when the Lord Jesus returns.
As the name of the gathering connotes, there were in attendance several prominent men and women in the Church and nation; Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion were well represented in the gathering, as well as many notable men and women who have either served or are still serving at the federal, state and local level of government, including the former head of state of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon and the current governor of Ondo state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN. The Holy Communion service was celebrated by the Dean of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Dr. Buba Lamido, assisted by the Priests of the Diocese of Abuja.
Meanwhile, in an interview after the service, Primate Okoh urged clerics not to use the pulpit for political campaigns, stating that preaching is a humble and holy task. He said the gospel, scriptures and Christ should be the main focus in the Church.
Also, the governor of Ondo state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN during an interview appealed to Christians to tolerate one another and foster peace in the country by shunning acts that breed violence, chaos, and instability.