By Kennedy Mbele
Methodist Church Nigeria has moved on after the tragic abduction of its Prelate, His Eminence Samuel Kanu-Uche, and two other clerics from the church with the celebration of its 60th anniversary.
Tagged ‘Prepare for the second coming of the Lord’, the celebration is all about autonomy from the British Methodist Church 60 years ago.
The celebration began June 7 with a press conference during which members wore bright faces after the sad case of abduction.
Addressing journalists at the conference held at the church headquarters, Wesley, in Lekki, Lagos, the Archbishop of the Lagos Diocese of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Most Rev. Dr. Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, presented a brief history of the church.
According to him, the church came into this part of the globe that later became Nigeria through a missionary named Thomas Birch on September 24, 1842, and was joined shortly by another missionary, Rev. Henry Townsend, the man who later established the first newspaper in Nigeria, called ‘Iwe Irohin’.
He explained that the church has continued growing and expanding to other parts of the country, saying by 1976 when it changed to episcopacy under the leadership of Patriarch Bolaji Idowu, it had nine dioceses across the country: Lagos, Enugu, Calabar, Kaduna, Ibadan, Umuahia and three other locations, noting that, today, Methodist has no fewer than nine dioceses in Lagos State alone.
He said the church has had eight Bishops and eight Lay Presidents from 1976 to date and that their 60th anniversary celebration committee, led by Ambassador Seyi Onafowokan, has prepared to lead them to build a multipurpose complex that will accommodate the Bishop, Chaplain, offices, conference hall, etc, for the diocese; a project estimated to cost over N1 billion.
Olawuyi revealed the church’s agenda for the next decade as establishing 60 churches and winning 60,000 souls, stressing that the major responsibility of any church is to win souls for Christ.
The Archbishop listed book launch, choral festival, youth funfair, award for deserving members of the church, dinner and thanksgiving service as the activities lined up for the 60th anniversary.
In his special message to Christians across the globe, he urged every Christian to face God’s gospel by working hard towards winning more souls, pointing out that, that was Christ’s directive to His disciples while on earth.
Olawuyi, however, identified dealing with sins, converting people to Christianity, management of converts and scarcity of funds, as major challenges facing the church and expressed optimism that God would continue empowering His people to surmount every challenge.
Feeling highly elated over the church’s 60th anniversary and it’s numerous achievements, the Archbishop prayed for peace in Nigeria and predicted in strong terms that God will not allow those planning to destabilize the country to succeed, rather, they will be consumed by their evil plans.
Olawuyi was visibly worried about the situation in the country which he described as terrible and pathetic, especially in the areas of poverty, education and insecurity.
According to him, the 90 million Nigerians earlier projected to be poorer this year by the World Bank has increased to 95 million due to the fallouts of the COVID-19.
This, he explained, has translated to more poverty, constant increase in price of goods such as food and other essential commodities which, he said, started from the beginning of this administration.
Regretting the continuous decline in standard of living amidst high level of corruption, the Archbishop cited the alleged stealing of N80 billion by the Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, under a government that came into power with a promise to stamp out corruption, and called on the Federal Government to go back to the drawing board and start performing its statutory roles, including honouring agreements with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Describing the security challenges as the most worrisome and disheartening experience, the Archbishop noted that the body language and actions of the Federal Government towards addressing them suggest inability to handle it or apathy.
He noted that a particular tribe has been the prime suspect of security challenges in the country and wondered why criminals who communicate with telephones cannot be tracked.
Olawuyi, however, commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State for what he described as ‘the good jobs in the areas of security and infrastructural development, particularly his ban of Okada in parts of the state and described the measure as a proactive one aimed at averting tension.
He called on law enforcement agencies in the state to carry out the order to the letter.