Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
It was double celebration recently for members of The Salvation Army, Anambra West Division, as they witnessed the installation of a new Divisional Commander and Divisional Director for Women Ministries, Majors John and Veronica Okpalaihedi.
The occasion was also a welcome service for the Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women Ministries of the church, Lt. Colonels Isaac and Eva Danso, who were on their first official pastoral visit to the division.
Domiciled in Onitsha, Salvation Army, Anambra West Division, covers Onitsha, Nnewi and Igboukwu areas of the church. Leaders and members of the organisation from different parts of the state were in attendance.
Chief secretary of the church in Nigeria, Lt Col. Isaac Danso, a Ghanaian, in his sermon, said the entire firmament obeys Jesus and even runs errands for him, recalling that the birth of Jesus was foretold by the appearance of a great star in the sky.
He noted that Danso said Jesus brought hope and restoration to mankind and by His teachings also freed mankind from ignorance.
He congratulated the newly enthroned Divisional Commander (Bishop) and his wife, the Divisional Director for Women’s Ministries on their new roles in Anambra West Division.
He said that the church, having found them worthy of such elevation, also expects them to live up to their calling. He expressed confidence in their ability to succeed, going by their track records.
The new Divisional Commander, Major John Okpalaihedi expressed gratitude to the church. He described their new position as a homecoming, even as he hoped that the same evangelical work would still take them to other places outside Anambra before their retirement. He said the major focus of his ministry would be on evangelism and expansion of the church to other areas yet unreached.
In a chat with Major Okpalaihedi, he explained that the Salvation Army operates like the military.
“In other churches, they call it diocese, but here in Salvation Army, we call it division. The smallest diocese is called section; the medium-sized diocese is called district, while the biggest diocese, like ours here, is called a division. Instead of addressing the head of the diocese as a bishop, we go by the appellation, Divisional Commander. Instead of pastors or reverend, we call officers. Instead of parish, we say corps,” he said.
The territorial envoy for Salvation Army Nigeria, Dr Levi Muonanu described the installation of the new Divisional Commander as a step in the right direction for the church. He said with the rich experience and pedigree of the newly installed divisional commander, both the evangelical and social services, including the medical mission which the church is engaged in, would not only soar higher but also reach even the riverine areas of Anambra State and more.
Chief Secretary of the Church, Nigeria territory, Lt. Col. Isaac Danso expressed delight on his first ever visit to Anambra State and the Anambra West Division. He described the members of the church in this area as dedicated and committed, which he said would continue to bear good fruits. He said the church has been established in 131 countries of the world as part of the Orthodox Church.
Earlier, in a welcome address presented by the Anambra West Division of the church, the Chairman, Divisional Finance Board, Dr Uzoegwu, a lawyer, commended the Chief Secretary for sending Majors John and Veronica Okpalaihedi to the division after the retirement of their former, Majors Patrick and Blessing Orasibe.
While enumerating the various positive interventions of the Chief Secretary to the church, they lauded him for responding to their effort in developing a befitting camp ground for The Salvation Army Nigeria Territory at Nteje Oyi LGA, Anambra State. They recalled that he not only sent money for the fencing of the parcels of land acquired for the project but also made money available for the infrastructural development of the camp ground among others, even as the church gears up for its centenary celebration in 2020.
Wife of the Divisional Commander and the Divisional Director for Women’s Ministries, Major Veronica Okpalaihedi, promised that with the support of the members, they shall make the division a pacesetter in all ramifications.