The bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) have been urged to vigorously pursue the unity of the Church.
This is the thrust of the various messages and talks delivered at the annual retreat of all the bishops and archbishops of the Church held at the Ibru Retreat Centre Agbarha-otor from Monday 6th to Friday 10th of January, 2020.
The Bishops’ Annual Retreat is the programme with which the bishops start the year with special reflection and prayers. The theme of the year’s retreat is “RESTORING THE ONENESS OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS/CHURCH (Psa. 133).” The bishops had a refreshing time in God’s presence for renewed vision and direction for leading the church of God in the year. The retreat among other things featured services with sermons, Bible studies and inspiring lectures and papers.
The preachers in the services all emphasized the need for unity. The first, the Rt Rev. Abiodum Olaoye, the Bishop of Osun North encouraged the bishops to always seek peace among themselves and love themselves as God’s purpose and for man’s good. He said that The Holy Spirit cannot abide in a divided church and that the Command of the Lord is to love one another.
Next, the Rt Revd Geoffrey Chukwunenye, the Bishop of Oru stated that disunity hinders the move of God, makes the church look ugly and loose her value in the community. Highlighting the causes of disunity which should be shunned, including greed, selfish interest, and love of money, he urged Christians to learn to agree with and work with one another.
The last preacher, the Rt Revd Jonah Ibrahim, Bishop of Kontagora noted that when people are united, the outcome is pleasing and good, and called on the bishops to strive for all that is good and honourable, purge themselves of certain things that block unity and continue with brotherly love in spite of cultural differences.
Other Resource persons and speakers in the Retreat, namely, the Rt Rev. Dr Babatunde Ogunbawo (Bible Study Leader), The Most Reverends George Lasebikan, Emmanuel Chukwuma, Daniel Yisa, Segun Okubadejo, Daniel Yisa, Emmanuel Egbunu, Israel Amoo, the Right Reverends Samuel Sowale, Samuel Ezeofor, Emmanuel Ajulo and Israel Okoye dealt with different aspects of ecclesiastical and ministerial unity.
Some of the participant bishops that reacted to the theme and the importance of the program expressed great satisfaction in the spiritual content saying that the leaders need such gathering to allow for pruning, opportunity to express dissatisfaction over some issues, and vocational renewal. Others identified some of the causes of disunity and division as power tussle, greed, lack of respect and regard for one another. In proffering solution, they suggested loyalty, strategic approach guided by biblical principles, repentant heart to apologize for wrong doing.
The meeting of the Board of Governors of the Trinity Foundation, under the trusteeship of which is the Ibru Centre and some other meeting and committees also held at the time.
The Programme ended with Episcopal Synod in which some new bishops and archbishops were elected to join in the shepherd ship of the Church of God.