By Agatha Emeadi
All is set for the National Hymn Festival billed to hold on November 26 at the University of Lagos Sports Centre.
According to the legendary reggae gospel artiste, Buchi Atuonwu and initiator of the festival, he said the one-day event is “where the Lord is leading us for the sake of the unity of the church, then reviving the hymns which I have done so much for the Christian faith over decades and centuries.”
Atuonwu also said that with the forthcoming hymn festival, they intend to bring back hymn singing into the churches, so as to bring back the spirit of worship and fellowship.
“I am convening the maiden edition of the national hymn festival because it is God’s desire and mine to have both orthodox, Pentecostals including Churches from all denominations and persuasions to gather under one roof, one platform to praise God and this is what the national hymn festival is all about.
“With the forthcoming festival, we intend to bring back hymn singing into the churches, so as to bring back the spirit of worship and fellowship and this is the reason, I am convening the maiden edition of the national hymn festival.”
The Church of Jesus Christ is one body and a united front, he said, but he regrettably noted that he is mainly driven by the divisions seen in churches.
“I came out from being hunted by rival cult groups, hounded, shot at, being attacked just for belonging to a particular group, and now that God has saved me from street life and restored me fully into His kingdom and the church, I want to see in Christendom what I have left in cultism.
“I am seriously against strong division along denominational lines where churches are raised for kingdom administrative purposes, fulfilling varying visions, approaching the preaching of the gospels in peculiar ways that God has revealed to flag bearers, leaders and never saw it as cult lines which we should not allow to happen. With the vehemence which pastors attack pastors, it is deplorable and I am against it,” he said adding that “for the fact that it is God’s desire and mine to have both orthodox, Pentecostals including Churches from all denominations and persuasions to gather under one roof, one platform to praise God and that is what the national hymn festival is all about.”
He also added that notable gospel artistes expected to lead the congregation include Nathaniel Bassey, Panam Percy-Paul, Joe Praise and Frank Edwards. Others are Mike Abdul, Buchi, Efe Nathan and Chigozie Wisdom with other conductors and leaders from different orthodox and Pentecostal choirs. But then, while the artistes do hymns of their choices, there are specified hymns compulsorily chosen for the day.