By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Awka diocese, Anglican Communion, The Most Reverend Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, PhD, JP yesterday inaugurated three parishes in the Anglican communion even as he warned Christians to be wary of their actions and inactions in the Church of God to avoid the wrath of God, because, according to him, the Church is not a social club where one behaves and does as he or she likes.
The parishes inaugurated were St Stephen’s Anglican Church parish Awka, Our Saviour’s Anglican Church parish Awka and St Barnabas Anglican Church Parish Nimo.
In his sermon on Sunday 17th May, 2020 at the inauguration of St Barnabas Anglican Church Nimo, Njikoka local government area, Anambra state, Archbishop Ibezim appealed to the parishioners to understand their church workers and tolerate them by correcting them with love for the progress and development of their parishes and communities.
He reminded that everything that has a beginning surely has an end hence Christians should embrace God as Alpha and Omega always , adding that Church workers doing the will of God should not be worried as God will always be their provider. He warned that nobody should be chased away from the church of God for any reason as only God has that prerogative to determine who is His and heaven bound or who isn’t and hell bound, but not men.
His words: ‘’Our duty is to bring people to God through Jesus Christ. We should not discriminate and pass judgment over actions and inactions of others in our Churches, but to pray for them always for God’s mercy and love. Our duty in the Church is to evangelize and feed the people with the words of God. Our churches should not be seen as social clubs, but a place of worship, a dwelling place for God, so that when people come, they receive healing, salvation and solution to their problems. The church should be a place to receive hope.
‘’There are many unbelievers inside the Churches, nobody would chase anybody away from the Church of Christ, even when the person is a drunk. Let him come to receive salvation in the Church. You may see a member of the choir who came to Church from his or her sex mate’s house and yet joined others to sing in the choir, it’s not our right to stop the person from singing to God, but, God Himself who judges on the last day as He would separate the chaff from the grains.
‘’We should be focused on evangelism and spreading the good news of the gospel to enable them repent and embrace God’s mercy in line with the message of salvation. Our Churches are places of worship and not a social club……………’’.
The Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger and Bishop of Awka while assuring them that God has liberated them from all the bondages troubling them before now individually and collectively, challenged the young parish to ensure a rapid growth of the parish to enable them plant other churches in accordance with the task of spreading the gospel of God as commanded in the bible.
He warned Christians to stop discriminating and being judgemental of others in the Church since only Jesus Christ , adding that the duties of Christians is to evangelize in its all ramifications and draw people to God with hope for salvation and nothing else.
Archbishop Ibezim before ending the inauguration service announced the elevation of the Vicar of St Paul’s Parish Nimo , Reverend Valentine Chukwujekwu Mbachi, PhD to a Canon in Awka diocese adding that he would be collated soon.
Archbishop Ibezim was assisted by Clerical Synod Secretary, Ven Clement Mgbemena , Administrative Secretary, and Ven Dr Rex Kanu among other priests.
Earlier, Sir Barr Chris Adimora , the Registrar of the Diocese of Awka and Sir Barr Charles Ezeagba , an Associate Prof , the Assistant Registrar performed the legal aspects of the inauguration of the new parishes.
In attendance at the inauguration service conducted by Ven Solomon Chidoka of Abagana Archdeaconry were the President Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild and Girls’ Guild, Province on the Niger, Mrs Martha Chioma Ibezim, the latest Canon in Awka diocese, Rev Canon Valentine Chukwujekwu Mbachi, PhD of St Paul’s Parish Nimo and his elated wife Mrs Rose Mbachi, Mrs Ijeoma Chidoka , VP Mother’s Union Abagana Archdeaconry, Mrs Constance Ozodi, wife of Resident Priest of St Barnabas’ Parish , Nimo, Rev Emma Ozodi, who the Archbishop described as a mobilizer of human and resources in God’s vineyard.
In their address to express their happiness after being inaugurated as a parish in Abagana Archdeaconry, the parishioners of St Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Nimo in their welcome address read by Sir Dr Chinedu Ilokanuno, KSP lauded the Archbishop, Province on the Niger and Bishop of Awka diocese , Anglican communion , Most Reverend Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, PhD , JP for granting them autonomy. They thanked the Bishop’s wife Mrs Martha Chioma Ibezim who is also the President Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild and Girls’ Guild for her motherly care.
The address read by Sir Dr Ilokanuno was signed by the Resident Priest, Rev Emma Ozodi, Sir Polycarp Ilokanuno (JP) as Patron, Dr I.N Ugochukwu (JP) as PCC Member and Mr Patrick Chinyelugo as Secretary.
While going down memory lane on the history of the church and its journey to become a parish, Ilokanuno described the inauguration as a parish as an extension of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Nimo. He said the land was procured with N5 Million in 2012.
The address said further: ‘’ The first site secured during the time of Rev Solomon Chidoka in 2003 could not work due to non-existence of access road to the land hence the need for a better site.
‘’We are very grateful to Venerable John Onuora of the Abagana Archdeaconry who loaned us the sum of N3 Million following the directive from you the Bishop of Awka diocese , so as to make up for the purchase of the land.
‘’We are very grateful to Prince Engineer Arthur Eze , Ozoigbondu who donated the sum of N10 Million towards the building of the Church. Among other donors included Sir Chris Ezumezu Iguh who donated all blocks from D.P.C. to the full height of the walls as well as all the Chancel Glass windows and Bishops marble throne.
‘’ We appreciate all that donated in one way or the other especially Dr Innocent Ugochukwu who donated Marble pulpit and one million naira cash ; and Chief Sir Polycarp Ilokanuno KSP , JP who donated marble chancel table and cash of N1.8 Million. Details of people’s donations to the Church would be highlighted in subsequent write ups.
The address recalled that the Church St Barnabas was named by Most Rev M.S.C Anikwenwa, former Dean, Church of Nigeria and Archbishop of Province 11 of the Anglican Communion in 2009 at Nawfia synod. The parish recognised its indigenous priests Venerable Chike Ogbonyekwube , Rev Ben Ezeonyema retired and Rev Chidozie Okoye as well as their Knights Sir Polycarp and Lady Dr Josephine Ilokanuno KSP, JP; Sir Barr and Lady Franklin Iguh KSP; Sir and Lady Emelife Onuorah KSC; Sir and Lady Chisom Okoye KSP, Sir and Lady Levi Ujuagu KSA , Sir and Lady Engr Chinedu Ilokanuno KSP and Sir Chris Ezumezu Iguh KSC.
St Barnabas’ Anglican Church Nimo had about 9 workers in its journey since 2000 including: Rev Solomon Chidoka 2000 to 2004, Rev Ferdinand Okoye 2004 to 2007, Mr Ikenna Nwankwo Church Teacher then 2007 to 2009, Mr Chukwuma Okafor Church Teacher 2008, Rev Vincent Nkemdilim 2007 to 2011, Rev Canon Victor Ahanonu 2011 to 2012, The first Resident Priest was Rev Ejike Egwuagu 2012 to 2015 and Rev Ifeanyichukwu Ilouno 2015 to 2019 as well as the current Resident Priest , Rev Emma Ozodi September 2019 till date.
Archbishop Ibezim as well inaugurated Our Saviour’s Parish Awka earlier before St Barnabas Nimo was inaugurated whereas St John the Divine Church, Ngozika Housing Estate Awka and St Michael’s Church Nibo and St Mary’s Church Nodu Okpuno will be inaugurated subsequently. St Stephen’s Parish, Awka was inaugurated last Friday.
At St Stephen’s Parish Umubelu Awka inaugurated last Friday , Archbishop Ibezim applauded the family of Nebe Ogugua for completing the Church edifice even as he turned sod for the Church’s proposed Vicarage.
The inauguration service conducted by Ven Samuel Okonkwo, Archdeacon , St Faith’s cathedral, featured prayers for the country and better propagation of the gospel. Archbishop Ibezim reminded that the corona virus pandemic could be said to be same of what happened in the era of Noah as it came with increase in population , increase in demonism and increase in knowledge.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Alexander Ibezim had during an unscheduled inspection visit to the Church of the Holy Spirit Awka presided over Ven Dr Rex C. Kanu challenged Christians to know their God and have unflinching faith in Him always as the solution to whatever challenge and storms of life they faced; insisting that Christians in a time like this corona virus is ravaging the world must act in accordance to survive today in order to live tomorrow.
He informed that the Pandemic 19 era appears to be the toughest time in the history of Nigeria sequel to the lockdown, even as he noted that coronavirus broke the unnecessary class system bedevilling Nigeria’s growth and development, as the virus does not know a wealthy or poor man. He encouraged Christians to shun arrogance and use the lessons lent from corona virus pandemic to change their perception about life.
In another development at the Church of the Pentecost during his Episcopal visit, the Archbishop, Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Alexander Ibezim, called on Christians to put their trust in God more than ever.
Archbishop Ibezim who said he was paying unscheduled visits to the faithfuls to tell them not to fear for the coronavirus pandemic, but rather they should rededicate their lives to God as the scourge was aftermath of sin.
He said coronavirus could not intimidate the church which had been divided into the physical and the invisible, adding that the faithfuls, as the physical church were mandated to trust God at all times.
His words: “The world has negated God’s command and behaved as if there was no God and assumed to take God’s place.
”The leaders have failed God, the clergy have failed God, the lay persons have failed God.
“This is like the time of Noah, God raised the plague to warn us and if we repent He will forgive us but if we remain in our wicked ways we would all perish.
“Read your bible Isaiah 26 verse 21, but He is a merciful God, see 2 Chronicles 7 verse 14, Psalm 51 and 91, May God have mercy on us,” he said.
Ibezim said that Coronavirus had made Nigerians to trust in the capabilities of their health professionals as the virus had revealed that Nigeria have qualified personnel.
“Nobody wants to travel abroad for treatment for one aliment or the other, no business contracts anymore, men now spend time with their families.
”Coronavirus has indeed instilled fear in everybody both rich and poor, God is truly a leveler,” he said.
The vicar of the church,Canon Ifeanyi Emegwa, thanked the prelate for his unscheduled visit and encouragement to the flock and assured that God would remain the focus.
Mr Ejike Orji in a homily titled “Jesus the Comforter” taken from the text 2Corinthians 1 verse 3 where Jesus Christ was described as the comforter of the faithful.
Orji reminded the Christians to put their whole trust in God Almighty as the only true source of living and urged the faithful to shun any unholy act that might annoy God .
“Our God would heal our land and give back abundance to us if we repent and seek His face,” he said.