Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Onitsha the commercial hub of Anambra state was agog with praises, thanksgiving and exhortation to God following the consecration of four Anglican Communion Bishops and presentation of Archbishops at All Saints’ Cathedral, Onitsha.
The event which attracted governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state, bishops from other churches, politicians, businessmen and technocrats as well as friends and family members of the celebrants, especially from Kwara and Ondo, Ebonyi states.
The newly consecrated bishops include Bishop Godwin Anyigor Awoke, the Bishop of Ngbo, Ebonyi state; Bishop Wisdom Budu Ihunwo, the Bishop of Niger Delta North Diocese; Bishop Solomon Olusola Akanbi, the Bishop of Offa Diocese, Kwara state and Bishop Prosper Afam Amah, the Bishop of Ogbaru Diocese, Anambra state.
It was indeed a carnival of some sort as church faithful, family members and friends rolled out the drums in celebration of the epochal event; different cultural dances, musical bands, were on display as they cheered and rejoiced with their new bishops who took canonical oath/vow to lead flock entrusted in their care.
This latest consecration brought to 170, the number of bishops of Anglican Communion serving in different dioceses across the country.
The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion; Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh who presided over the consecration ceremonies charged them to be apostles to proclaim Christ’s resurrection and interpret the gospel, and testify to Christ’s sovereignty as the Lord.
“Beloved in Christ; the people have chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you by acclaiming your election. A Bishop in God’s church is called to be one with the Apostles, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection and interpret the gospel, and testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. You are called to guard the faith, unity and the discipline of the church, to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the new covenant, to ordain priests and deacons and to join in consecrating bishops and to be in all things faithful pastor and wholesome example to the entire flock of Christ”, Okoh charged.
The new bishops took oath of canonical obedience, oath of submission, oath of allegiance to Christ, oath of allegiance to God, declaring and confessed before God and the church that they were not members of any secret cults and vowed never to join any secret cult. They also vowed to owe allegiance to no other but to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Path of their oath was: “We declare before God and His Church that we have never been a homosexual/bi-sexual, and we vow that we will not indulge in the practice of homosexuality/bi-sexuality; and that if after this oath I am involved, found to be or profess to be a homosexual/bi-sexual against the teachings of the Holy scriptures as contained in the Bible, we bring upon ourselves the full wrath of God and subject ourselves willingly to canonical discipline as enshrined in the constitution of the church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion”.
In his remarks, governor Obiano reassured that he would continue to support the church initiatives and urged the new bishops to be good Shepherd and not wolves.
“The Primate, I want to reassure that we will continue to support your initiatives, you are a great man and a father to me in particular and I want to let you know that it was not only the diocese on the Niger or only Bishop Owen that hosted you, I was directly involved in the hosting. I want to congratulate the newly consecrated bishops and I want to charge you and remember that you should be a shepherd and not wolf to the flock, you should treat them well and do not devour them”.
“I want to remind you and other bishops that you are not only a bishop in Anglican Communion, once you are ordained bishop, you are bishop for all the denomination and therefore you should be tolerant because that is only way you can increase the flock that are following Christ. Do not discriminate among yourselves, lift the spirit, we might have faced greater challenges in Nigeria today and all kinds of things are happening, we can only win when we are united. So, am urging all of you from today to see people from other denominations as your brothers and sisters” Obiano advised.
In his sermon, the host bishop and Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo said that the Church of God was under attack and urged Christians to rise, awake and pray fervently; to subdue the evil powers against the church, adding that they should be united against oppression, attack and humiliation.
Describing hosting the consecration, leading the retreat and preaching the consecration sermon as rare privileges, Nwokolo said “These are linked up and connected with our years thus far in the episcopate. Our wealth of experiences since our consecration relating to managing the clergy and laity, we challenged and encouraged the new bishops on how to peacefully manage and oversee the church as a body acknowledging her diversities, differences and intricacies”.