THEME: “ABIDING IN CHRIST: GOD’S PANACEA IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD” [JOHN 15:1-8]
In the name of God, the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
All glory, honour, might and majesty belong to the LORD, our God, who is, and was and will be forever. God has kept us and in spite of the economic woes and uncertainties of our time such as the COVID -19 Pandemic ravaging the world, the insecurity, banditry, kidnapping and corruption. In the period under review we have learnt the more to rely on the Lord our God. Therefore, in faith and with confidence we declare with the Psalmist that “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Because of the mercy of God, we shall not be consumed; we shall live and enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. God shall restore every loss, rebuild our ruins, heal our hurts, comfort the bereaved, restore the Church to glory and greater growth and bless you and everything that concerns you in the Name of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.
I welcome you to this Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion]. God is here to bless, guide and strengthen us for greater exploits. May we receive grace to go with the Lord into the great future He has prepared for us, even if the giants rise up, God has already given us victory. As the dangers, insecurity and challenges increase, may our strength be greater and renewed in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST, MARINA LAGOS:
Christ Church, at Faji (1853-1867)
Christ Church started with the activities of the first European and African missionaries led by the Revd. Henry Townsend who, landed in Badagry 1842, from Freetown, Sierra Leone, sponsored by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in London to set up what was called the Yoruba Mission. The Revd. Samuel Ajai Crowther, a freed slave, and the Revd. Charles Andrew Gollmer, a German missionary, together with their spouses, were included but the mission had little or no success in Badagry.
Later, in response to an invitation for evangelization from some freed slaves, the Creoles, who had settled in Abeokuta, as well as Oba Sodeke, the founder and Oba of Abeokuta, these early missionaries moved to Abeokuta which, until 1851, remained the headquarters of the CMS mission. Oba Sodeke encouraged the missionaries, giving them land for their churches and schools. The missionaries had hitches in Abeokuta so Lagos became the last resort. It was at Ebute Ero that the first missionary station was immediately established. Gollmer wasted no time in starting the mission station at Breadfruit in August 1852. A year later he established another mission, St. Peter’s Holy Trinity, at Oko-Faji, which later became the site of the CMS Grammar School, Lagos. By 1853 Gollmer had built a Church of mud and thatched roof at Oko-Faji.
It was from this site, at Oko-Faji, that Christ Church emerged. Initially, services at St. Peter’s, as well as Holy Trinity, Ebute Ero, and St. Paul’s Church, Breadfruit, understandably, were conducted in Yoruba. But the liberated slaves from Sierra Leone, the Creoles, most of whom had embraced Christianity and had now settled in Lagos, preferred to have their church service in English. The Revd. Ajayi Crowther was placed in charge of the mission station at Faji. It is believed that it was at this time that Crowther introduced an English service at Faji for the convenience of the natives from Sierra Leone. As the Revd. Hinderer, a German missionary noted, “The English service which Mr. Crowther has commenced is so well attended that all the corners of the church are occupied.” There were also a few native professionals such as lawyers, administrators, doctors, merchants, and architects among these settlers who found worshipping at Christ Church more convenient. It was these emerging local and foreign elite that, right from its inception, gave the new church a cosmopolitan and pan-tribal outlook that it has retained.
Movement to the Marina (Ehingbeti)
In March 1804, the Revd. Ajai Crowther, who had played a crucial role in the founding of Christ Church, was consecrated a Bishop in London. Soon after, he was transferred to the Niger to start a new mission there. Christ Church, Faji, was by the CMS mission under the charge of the Revd. James Abner Lamb, a former Welsh lawyer, now an Anglican priest. The Revd. Lamb had been in the Church for less than a year when, with the approval of the CMS station in Lagos, he launched on June 9, 1863, an appeal for funds to build a new Church, which he named Christ Church. The proposed church would be built of brick and slate, and would provide accommodation for up to 500 people, instead of the old church that could only take 300 people. By July 1866, the total collection from the appeal had reached 482 pounds, following which it was decided that the cutting of the first sod of the new Church would take place on January 29, 1867.
Proposed New Church
The site chosen at the Marina (Ehingbeti) for the new church was one of the four sites that the Revd. Gollmer had acquired in 1852 from Oba Akitoye. It would be more convenient and safer for foreign sailors and merchants, many of whom were located on the Marina, to worship at the new Church. The Ehingbeti site was, indeed, from all practical considerations, ideal for the new church building. The small foreign community in Lagos as well as the local elite lived and worked along the Marina.
Foundation Stone of the New Church Building at Marina
The foundation stone was laid on Friday, March 29, 1867 by the Administrator of Lagos, His Excellency, John Hawley Glover (later Sir John), and it was the first time that the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of a church was performed in Lagos. Among the national flags displayed at the ceremony were the Union Jack, St. George’s Cross, and those of France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal, giving both the event and the new Church an international character. It took two years for the new church building to be ready for dedication. On the morning of June 10, 1869, Bishop Samuel Ajai Crowther, who had been involved as a priest in the early years of the Church, was given the privilege of dedicating it.
After the departure of the Revd. Lamb in 1869, and for the next 50 years, Christ Church was placed in the charge of European clergy, assisted by African curates. It was these priests, white and black, under the direction of the CMS Yoruba mission that laid the physical and spiritual foundation for the new Christ Church at the Marina.
Early Years at the Marina
It was in the early years at the Marina that the Church began steadily to establish its traditions and to gain grounds as the venue for important state and ecclesiastical events, as these had to be conducted in English. With the purchase, through local efforts, of a new pipe organ in 1900, the first in the Church, the Church needed an extension to conveniently accommodate the new organ. But when the Church asked the colonial government for assistance for the extension of the church, the Legislative Council of the colonial government, at its meeting of May 10, 1899, turned down the request on the grounds that the government and colony were secular. On March 4, 1908, Sir Walter Egerton, the Colonia Governor, made a request to the CMS for the transfer of the Church to the colonial government. This time, the CMS authorities turned down the request, but agreed to place the Church at the disposal of the government when needed, on condition that the government would assist it with its maintenance, Later the colonial government agreed to maintain the tower clock.
From Pro-Cathedral to Cathedral
In March 1906, the Conference of Anglican Bishops in Lagos passed a resolution for the formation of a Province of West Africa in which the Church was to play a prominent role. In May, 1921, it was decided at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in London that the status of Christ Church should be raised to that of a Pro-Cathedral. The new Cathedral, estimated to cost 46,000 pounds, was to be built in three sections as, and when, funds became available.
The Cathedral and Mission
The Cathedral is deeply into missions and church planting activities. Several parishes have been founded through the missionary enterprise of the Cathedral. The Cathedral has also supported Nomadic Mission of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion tremendously at its inception. This is in order to realize its unrelenting welfarism project through its Social Welfare Service Unit.
The Cathedral Church of Christ Choir Lagos is one of the most respected Choir in West Africa and is particularly noted for its wide range of liturgical repertoire, which forms the backbone of weekly worship here in the beautiful acoustics of the Cathedral. The repertoire here is not much different from that of any typical English Cathedral Choir in the United Kingdom.
From its humble beginnings in 1853, in a modest mud and thatch roofed building that it shared, initially, with St. Peter’s Holy Trinity Church, at Faji, Christ Church moved to a brick-and-mortar building at the Marina in 1867, the last of the four sites obtained by the German missionary, the Revd. Gollmer, from Oba Akitoye. In 1926 the foundation stone of the new Cathedral was laid, and its Gothic building completed in 1946. Since then, the Church has grown phenomenally, far surpassing the expectations of its founders. It has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as the oldest and best-known Cathedral in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
By a quirk of history, it is no longer the See of the Anglican Primate in Nigeria, now located in the new Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It is estimated that at least half of the population of Lagos are Christians, and that up to 40 per cent of these are Anglicans. The Cathedral itself has over 1,800 registered members, and average weekly attendance at its services is 750, one of the largest in the Diocese of Lagos.
OUR SPECIAL GUEST: THE MOST REV. DR. FOLEY BEACH: We first met Archbishop Foley Beach when we visited the Church of Uganda when Archbishop Stephen was presented in February 2020. He has provided very wonderful leadership to GAFCON especially during this challenging period of the COVID -19 Pandemic. We also visited the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, the Primate of our sister ACNA Province and Chairman of GAFCON and his Provincial Officials during our last Pastoral visit to CONNAM. He received us very warmly in his home and Cathedral in Atlanta, Georgia. We have invited Archbishop Foley Beach to be with us in this Standing Committee Meeting. We warmly receive you and those who are visiting with you. We trust God to build our relationship and partnership in the Ministry of the Gospel. We assure you of our continued support as you lead the GAFCON Movement. We thank you for the soul stirring message you brought to us during the opening Communion Service on Tuesday. May God continually renew your strength and bless your Ministry in the Church of God. You are a worthy Partner in the Ministry of the Gospel. Give our love and regards to your wife and all our brothers and sisters in ACNA.
THE RECEIPIENTS OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA AWARDS FOR 2021: The world and our Nation Nigeria are passing through a very challenging period. It is not an easy time to lead both the Church and the Nation. Both spiritual and secular leadership are severely tasked. In Nigeria the high insecurity due to killer herdsmen attacks on communities throughout the country, the battle against the COVID-19 Pandemic and its waves and variants remain daunting, while the infrastructural and industrial developments are opening up the economy and creating employment opportunities in some States. We have therefore considered the following Political leadership in the country to be honoured by the Anglican Communion for excellence and courageous leadership to the Nation in this challenging time. We are committed to praying for all in authority but more so to encourage them when they are serving the general good of the people and our Nation. More so as Christians, they have become Beacons of the Shining light, courageous leaders and standing for what may not be generally acceptable or politically correct but what in the long run will have served the good of the citizens. The rest of their individual achievements will be in their citations. In the Name of God, we hereby nominate and honour the following:
- His Excellency, Hon. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu, The Executive Governor, Lagos State:
- His Excellency, Barr. Chief Nyesom Wike CON; The Executive Governor, Rivers State:
- Arakurin, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN); The Executive Governor, Ondo State:
- His Excellency, Prince Dr. Dapo Abiodun, The Executive Governor, Ogun State:
- Prof. Emmanuel Akinola Abayomi, The Honourable Commissioner for Health Lagos State
INSECURITY AND INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA: Nigeria is fast becoming a land flowing with Tears and Blood because of the impact of Terror, Banditry, Herdsmen attacks on communities, Kidnapping and many more socio-political disruptions. The troubles that come to the people are like the earthquake which was followed by a Tsunami with great destruction of lives and property. The after math is only ruins and fear for life. We live in very uncertain times of insecurity and devastations. Across the country people are constantly under attack and in some parts of our Dioceses, churches have been destroyed, our members are kidnapped, some people are killed violently by sudden attacks by unidentified gunmen. The painful thing is that the dead are not counted and no adequate recognition of the evil done. The trivializing of the sanctity of the lives of Nigerians in their own land is fast becoming a norm. In some cases, the Military and Security Agencies would deny that such incidents ever took place. The lives of Nigerians irrespective of religion, tribe, class or other considerations matter to God and to this Nation. A situation in which communities that are predominantly Christian are targeted one after another attacked, kidnapped and killed mercilessly and their homes and property destroyed in some parts of Kaduna State and the North Central is totally unacceptable. The constant siege on communities in the Kaduna, Plateau and Zamfara and the Southern States must be checked.
The paralysis that is setting in is that we are getting numbed by the constant killings such that the abnormal is becoming normal. The people are tired, confused and not knowing how to respond to evil happening around us. Often the response of Prayer and righteous anger against the wickedness being perpetrated is weak. Nigeria is gradually relapsing to coma and stupor. God wants to awaken our consciousness to the possibility that He alone can bring peace and order into our situation. Thus as the Scriptures say “Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of My people?”.
Some of the attacks bear marks of serious compromises and sabotage in the National Armed Forces and Security Agencies and even among Government Officials. We support the efforts of some State Governments in checking the menace of the Armed Herders attacks and the wicked activities of Banditry in Benue, Ondo and Oyo States. Nigeria is a Federating Nation and each State Government must rise up to make laws and implement policies that help protect lives and property our citizens. We shall continue to support the call for restructuring the Nigeria Police Force to allow State Governments have their State Police Force and strengthen the present Regional Security Outfits being put in place. The alternative will be near anarchy when zones and regions have their own Militia who portend to defend them from the Bandits and Herders’ attack.
We call on President Mohammad Buhari to brand the Bandits and Herders attackers as Terrorists and let them be treated as such. The Security Chiefs will continue to face their task with determination, and focus bringing an end to Banditry, Kidnapping and anarchy. They need to work in collaboration with the State Governors and Regional leaders and well -meaning organizations. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for a complete overhaul and restructuring of the former security architecture and purge the Armed Forces and Security Agencies of corrupt officers and expose the sponsors of these evil and heinous crimes that appear to have overwhelmed Nigeria. We hope for a swift, effective and functional security for our country.
CALL FOR A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL DIALOGUE: Nigeria is at the brink of becoming a failed State and we are not too far from Somalia. The arrogance and imposition of Armed Cattle Herders or any other ethnic nationality and the religious colorations and preferences in our national life are worrisome. The lopsidedness in the implementation of some National Policies and Federal appointments favouring Muslims and Fulani is troubling. The issue of Justice, Equity and Equality of Citizens in a free and democratic society remains an issue that must be openly and frankly discussed, legislated and implemented for the survival of this Nation Nigeria. We therefore call for a new comprehensive Sovereign National Dialogue by all the Ethnic Nationalities and Regional representatives [apart from the Legislators] to discuss all issues troubling this Nation. Nigeria needs a new Civilian and Democratic Constitution. We need the birth of a New Nigeria where no citizen is oppressed rather that everyone has equal right to strive for good life. We need a nation where the Resources are judiciously distributed for the good of all. Our present system breeds greed, corruption, anarchy and injustice. We need a New Nigeria for all citizens.
ADOPT NEW SECURITY EMERGENCY STEPS: Considering the security situation in Nigeria, we call on the Federal and State Governments to declare a state of emergency on security for the country for six months. The Federal Government must put in place and implement very stringent gun control policies for Nigeria. A situation where a Herdsman openly carries an AK47 gun and moves freely in civilian communities must not be tolerated. Regional collaboration with the Sahel Region and our ECOWAS countries and Cameroon needs to be strengthened. Nigeria’s porous Borders must be better managed. Where it is difficult to control arms and ammunitions, then the Federal Government should allow Nigerians to bear arms for self-defense. The call for the restructuring the Security Agencies especially the Nigeria Police Force to allow for State Police force needs to be considered and be implemented.
2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS: The General Elections come up in 2023. This is the opportune time for the citizens to exercise their right to choose our leaders. Politics is God given process in the ordering of His world and society. Politics is not dirty as perceived by some people in the past, even though some people have hijacked the political processes for their personal agenda. We encourage all citizens to be involved in the political process of our States and Nation. Christians should register in any Political Party of their choice and be involved in the activities of the Party from the Ward levels to the National. Those who contest for political positions should choose from the grassroots and Ward levels through internal democratic processes with the Political Parties. The Anglican Church must be focused and fully mobilized in the political processes throughout this country.
We encourage every Anglican member to register, obtain and keep your Voters Card and your National Identification Number. The State Elections for Anambra State is slated for November 2021. We encourage all our members to pray for a peaceful election and smooth transition of power. All groups and organs of the Church must be mobilized for political engagement. The Political Mobilization Group of the Church of Nigeria will have to guide us on constructive engagement.
COVID-19 AND ITS IMPACT: The year 2020 stands out in history as the year when COVID-19 ravaged the world. It has impacted the world negatively in terms of sickness, loss of lives, loss of livelihood, economically, socially and spiritually. Every Government and family has been affected and Nigeria is yet to recover from its impact. There are new strains of the COVID-19 emerging from India, South Africa and other parts of the world and they are causing new waves of infections and deaths in our villages and communities. We have lost some members to COVID-19 infections. Many people are very complacent and careless because some believe that it is a rich people’s disease or it is not real. COVID-19 is real and it kills.
We thank the Federal and State Governments on the recent procurement of the various additional vaccines. We still have some apathy and protests against vaccination. We encourage all citizens to endeavor to take the vaccine. The campaign against the vaccination is not in the interest of the people. Often the agitation against the vaccine comes from those who should enlighten others. We will encourage every effort to give general vaccine to all our citizens especially the most vulnerable group. In this matter, the principle of Christian Charity must guide us as found in Romans 14.
The incidence of the COVID-19 has exposed the poor state of Nigerian Health Care delivery. We want to encourage Dioceses and members to invest in the professional training of health care givers and in research, manufacturing and sale of Pharmaceutical products. Dioceses should intensify the establishment of Health Clinics and Hospitals. We direct all our Dioceses and Parishes to see how they need to establish clinics and welfare organs that will carter for our members, especially the poor and vulnerable members. We appreciate all our Doctors, Nurses and frontline health workers who have bravely stood for the sick and infected citizens. We commiserate with all those who lost their dear ones to the pandemic. May God stand by us and carry us through this challenging period victoriously.
The War Against Drugs: One the monsters confronting our Nation is drug abuse and addictions. Nigeria is fast becoming a major drug hob in the world. All the evils we used to read of about South American countries and now transplanted in Nigeria. This must be fought, if not the future of our young people, families and communities are severely threatened. There is a direct link between criminality, prostitution, banditry and insurgency and drugs. The drug trade is a great source of funding for most antisocial activities. The economic, social and health impact with the consequence of the long term effect on the Nation are enough reasons to engage in the War Against Drugs Abuse and Addictions. We commend the efforts and gains recently being recorded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency under the leadership of General [Rtd] Mohammmad Buba Marwa in this fight. This must be sustained. Considering the ongoing ravaging caused by Drug Abuse among the population in schools, streets, offices and across the social strata, this scourge must be fought to a standstill. Yesterday the Church of Nigeria, War against Drug Abuse and Addiction was launched, we encourage our Provinces and Dioceses to step it down in all our Dioceses as a fight to secure the future of our young people and families.
OUR NATIONAL ECONOMY:
It is encouraging to note that contrary to expectations, Nigeria exited recession in the 4th quarter of 2020 after 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth and achieved positive growth of 5.01% in the 2nd quarter of 2021. The PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index) has risen to an 18 month high of 55.4 in July from 53.6 in June 2021. In addition, Inflation which hit 17.93% in the 2nd quarter of 2021 trended downwards to 17.38 % in the 3rd quarter. These figures are good and heartening but we would like to see them translate to improved welfare for Nigerians, such that our dear country would cease to be the poverty capital of the world, an inglorious position we attained in 2019. We cannot over emphasize the need for Government at all levels to urgently address the precarious security challenges facing our country. This will help ensure that the gains from the diversification efforts through the various intervention programs especially in the Agricultural sector via the Anchor Borrowers Program are not lost to the economy.
Government must ensure that the targeted Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs), households and individuals have access to these much needed funds. It is imperative that there is a solid framework for disbursement & accountability of the different intervention funds, for it to have the desired goal of accelerating our nations growth. Improvement in our National security is also expected to positively address the issue of capital flight, declining FDIs (foreign Direct Investments) and Diaspora remittances. There is need to check corruption within the system. We also caution that although statistics show that our external debt to GDP ratio is still within acceptable limits, Managers of our economy must ensure that these borrowings and loans are appropriately and judiciously deployed to yield maximum returns so that we do not enslave our generation yet unborn.
Finally, we cannot help but stress the need to address the free fall in the value of the nation’s currency because of its attendant impact on the store of value and confidence of investors. Recently the country’s reserves improved to an all-time high in recent reckoning.
Efforts must be intensified to channel such accruals into the real sectors of the economy to stimulate economic growth.
THEME: “ABIDING IN CHRIST: GOD’S PANACEA IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD” [JOHN 15:1-8].
INTRODUCTION: Jesus Christ confronts us with one of the great teachings of Who He is and the necessity to believe and remain attached in Him. He points out the necessity of “Abiding” in Him as we see in verses 4-7. The crux of Abiding is Relationship with God in Christ Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit in our walk with God and with the people around us. We posit that we live in a world that is constantly in flux, always changing and in most times trials and challenges confront us. These affect our faith and walk with God. In John 15:1-8; Jesus prescribes the Panacea or God’s Divine solution to all the maladies of human life. God’s healing and help for all times is in Jesus Christ. This Divine solution was potent in the past generations and the Sovereign God has power to help us in our present world and its complex challenges. Therefore, remaining in Christ, depending and focusing on Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our life and faith, and living in obedience to His Word will enable us be and do what God desires of humanity. This has the power to impact on human societal issues because the power of transformation in lives is the power of fruitfulness. Abiding in Christ is premised on:
[a] The Sovereignty of God over all things: Jesus states clearly saying “I AM THE TRUE VINE AND MY FATHER IS THE VINEDRESSER”. The Husbandman or the Vinedresser is to be understood as the owner, the care giver and the one who determines whatever will happen in every season. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator, Owner and sustainer of all that exist. He is Eternal and excellence and all power belongs to Him and He has dominion in the affairs of the peoples. He orders the events of the world. His Sovereign power is expressed as King David acknowledged;
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and majesty; for all that is heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honour come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all”
The relationship between Jesus and the Father was such that he was in total dependence and willingness to do the will of the Father. There was always mutual honour in the Godhead. Jesus did what the Father was doing and spoke the Words of the Father. When He taught the Disciples to pray, it was addressed to the Father with all the passion and desire that His will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven. This same passionate relationship which determines who we are and what we do is what Jesus desires of all who believe in Him.
[b] The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ: Jesus pointed to Who He is when He said “I am the True Vine”. He uses one of the very outstanding metaphors of the Scriptures and in one of the I AM sayings. The I AM sayings reveal the uniqueness of Jesus, His Divinity and Salvific work and Lordship. Whatever the Vine stands for is fulfilled in Christ. Just as in John 14:6; the uniqueness of Jesus as the very source of Life, Nurture and ability to bear fruit is clearly stated. There is no alternative to Jesus Christ. He is not one of the sources of life and sustainability, He is the only true Source. The same truth is expressed when Jesus said to the woman at the well thus “If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” Jesus takes it beyond the surface or physical to the spiritual connection that activates the power of God. what Jesus wants us to know was also expressed by Prophet Isaiah when He said “Listen to me, you who follow after righteousness, you that seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and the hole of pit from which you were dug” when we learn to depend and draw from Jesus Christ just as God called out Abraham and Sarah alone and blessed them in the same way He will bless and increase the person who trusts in Christ the true Vine.
[c] The Indispensability of Jesus Christ is so clearly expressed because He said “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. …He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” The necessity of the believers to depend and remain attached and draw from the Lord Jesus Christ is evident. The Church or individual cannot do much or go far without Jesus Christ. The life of the Christian is intrinsically connected to Christ just as Jesus is connected to the Father. Whenever anyone thinks that he can do or achieve anything without God such a person should know that, that is the very beginning of failure.
[d] The Power of the Word of God and its impact on the people. Given the context of our lives and the challenges that confront humanity in this 21st Century, it is evident that the lasting solution is only found in God, in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God carries His power and Life. It is the instrument of Divine operations in human life and conditions. The success and fruitfulness that God reckons with is based on His Word. The power to resist the alluring of the world and the storms that come with it can only be supplied by God through His Word. God’s solution and Panacea for the trials and challenges of life and of the world is only available in Christ Jesus and the His Word. Believers run a great risk when they conform to the standards and fashions of the world. The Church loses its radiance and power to preserve and be the conscience of the Society the moment she follows the dictates of the world, her cultures and practices. No human authority, sage or collection of Princes can equate or over-rule the will of God and the authority of the Word of God in things pertaining to our salvation, life, leadership and practices of the Church. Article 21 states that
… for as much as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God, they err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
There is a limit to what humans can impose in the things of God. Therefore, we all must acknowledge our inadequacies and humbly allow God and His Word to order and guide our lives and the Church of God. It is then we shall bear fruits that will count with God. Let us then look intently at Jesus as the True Vine and the necessity to abide in Him.
THE VINE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
The Vine is a unique plant that has a flexible stem, a climber that is supported while growing. The stem has rough surface with dry back. There are other crops that are climbers but the Bible uses the Vine to refer to the Grape-Vine or Vineyard. The Bible speaks of some trees and plants such as the Olive, Fig and Grape-Vine as major cash crops of the Ancient Near Eastern people and also as the symbol of the Fertility of the Promise Land. These fruit trees stand for the inheritance and possessions that God gave Israel such as we see in Deuteronomy 6:11 “…houses full of all goods, which you did not fill…. vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant when you have eaten and are full”. As such Vineyard [“Kerem”] and the practice of growing the Vines or Viticulture was widely practiced in Canaan even before Israel settled in the Promise Land. From the time of Israel’s occupation till the time of Jesus the cultivation of the Vine as a source of economic sustainability was already established. But there are other references to the Vineyard and wall paintings found in a tomb at Thebes in Egypt dating from 1400 BC which chronicled the process of wine making and storage from the grape-vines.
The first mention of the Vineyard in the Bible was in Genesis 9:20-21 where Noah cultivated and processed the Vine into wine. It was evident that the fruits of the Vine or Grapevines were processed and fermented to produce Wine. When Abram defeated Chedoriaomer and the Kings who were with him and freed his nephew, Lot and the people who were taken captive, “Then Melchhizedek king of Salem brought out bread and Wine; he was the priest of God, Most High…” The report of the spies who spied out the Promise land were sent out at the time of the season of the first ripe grapes and they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes, they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranate and figs..” This was an evidence of the richness of the land of Promise. The Bible has detailed account as to what is required in growing the vines and Vineyard as we see in Isaiah 5:1-7.
The Vineyards are mostly located in the Hillside, plains and Valleys. There are places that have become renown for the Vineyards such as the valley of Eschcol, [Grape Cluster], valley of Sorek in the Philistine plain, the region of En-Gedi but it was evident that Judah was renowned for its Vineyards. This may be reflected in the blessing Jacob gave to Judah which was also a Messianic prophecy, saying:
Judah, you are He whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a Lion’s whelp….and as a Lion who shall arouse Him? The Scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the Lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people Binding His donkey to the Vine, and His Donkey’s colt to the choice Vine, He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the Blood of Grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and His teeth whiter than milk.
Vineyards are great sources of economic investments. Vineyards are so important that the owner of the Vineyard and his workers may be resident in the Vineyard because of the value attached to it and intensity of the work. As such everything about the Vine requires intensive care from cultivation to processing.
Most importantly God spoke of Israel as His “Choice Vine”. The Prophets depicted Israel as God’s Vine. Prophet Isaiah sang a Hymn of God’s dealings with Israel in the song of the Vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7. In it God chose Israel as a well-beloved Vineyard which he planted on a very fruitful hill. He dug up the stones, planted it with a choice vine stock. He fenced it with walls and built Watchtowers to protect it from animals and thieves. He built Winepress to process the grapes and during the Harvest. The Owner of the Vineyard “expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes”, the consequence of not bringing forth the good fruit expected by God was lack of care and pruning, disaster and severe judgement. The conclusion was that “for the Vineyard of the LORD of Host is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help [wailing]. Again the Psalmist speaking of God’s dealing with Israel said “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land….why have you broken down her hedges, so that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit…”.
When the Vineyard becomes unproductive it would be abandoned and the consequence would be that the plants would dry. The dry Vines then become firewood to be burnt. It is amazing that only a fruitful Vine can enjoy care and be profitable. According to Ezekiel 15:1-8; God decried the unfruitfulness of Israel and warned of the severe consequence that would follow. The live wood of Vine was not fit for any furniture talk less of the dried Vine wood. “Instead, it is thrown into the fire for fuel….is it useful for any work?”
THE VINE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT: In the Gospels we see that some of the Parables of Jesus were on the Vineyards, Grapevines and the produce of Vine. These Parables were about fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God. In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus spoke of the Vineyard owner who came looking for the fruit of the Fig and Vineyard continually for three years. He wanted the Vineyard to be uprooted and destroyed but the Vineyard Keeper pleaded for another year to nurture and manure the Vine with the hope that it will bear fruit. The Vineyard owner gave it a second chance. This is the mercy and grace that God gives to His people that they may bring forth fruit that He desires. In His Parable of the New Wine in the old wine skin [container], Jesus teaches of the character of the New life in Him that is vibrant and impactful which cannot be in the contained in the old life of sin.
In Matthew 20:1-16; Jesus teaches on the Kingdom Labourers and the Reward from the Lord of the Harvest. The Harvest of the Vineyard is enormous and demands many labourers and Harvest force engaging the Harvest at different times. The owner and rewarder is the Lord who will reward each labourer as He deems fit and according to his work. There is no room for envy, complain and attack for what God gives to His servants. God is just in all His dealings with His servants. “So the last will be first and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen”. In the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen in Matthew 21:33-41, Jesus depicted the rejection of the Jews and of the world towards Him. The Wicked Vinedressers were dubious, fraudulent, and rebellious against the Owner of the Vineyard. Such that “When the Vintage time drew near, he sent servants to the Vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the Vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another…. At last he sent His son”. The rebellion against His authority was so bitter that they conspired and killed the Son and Heir.
The consequences of the mismanagement of the Vineyard and Kingdom work, is a swift judgement from God the Owner of the Vineyard just as the judgement on the Vineyard that is unproductive. The Missional and Eschatological significance of the Vineyard must be taken very seriously. Whatever is spoken of the Vine, Vineyard and fruitfulness in the Old Testament and the implications of the Parables and teachings of the New Testament, find their true meaning and fulfilment in Jesus Christ and in relation to Him. This culminated understanding is in our text in John 15:1- 16.
ABIDING IN JESUS: THE TRUE VINE: The understanding of the Vine is not just the plant bearing juicy fruit but of that all that the Vine stands for are personified in Christ Jesus. This we see in His earthly life and ministry as He went about doing good and healing all who were sick and oppressed, He is the Bread of Life and the Word of Life [Sacramental]. He is the New Life and the New Wine. He is indispensable in our walk with God and living to please God. Jesus Christ is the source of water and nourishment that will make the believers to be fruitful. The strength of the Teaching of Jesus is in the Word He used repeatedly in verse 4-9 which is “ABIDE”. It is a verb used of a place metaphorically for God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Believers are to remain, continue to stay in God, His Word and the quality of His character in love, faith and hope even in times of affliction. “Abide” “Mone” can also mean to “endure”, stand and when it is strengthened it means continuing in perseverance. It is good to note that “Hupomone” which literally means “to remain under” signifies “to remain in a place instead of leaving it or “to persevere unto the end” Jesus is demanding persistent loyalty to His Person and Teachings from every Believer in Christ. The abiding or remaining attached to Jesus demands that we persevere continually holding to Him especially in times of trial and challenges that seek to sever us from following Him.
If we are to abide in Him as a branch in the Vine, then there is much to be learnt from the Vine, because much care is given to the nursery, planting and nurturing of the plant. The stem and branches are carefully guided to spread out or not. The pruning of the branches are necessary for them to bring forth the buds and tender branches that in turn bear the tender grapes. Every tender branch that bears fruit is very precious to the Vinedresser. Every fruit, no matter how small or few, counts. Indeed, a small branch with fruit is considered more precious than a long branch that has no fruit, such branch without fruit is cut off in order to allow the branches to maximize the nutrients for the fruit. Pruning is very key in the care for the grapevines. This understanding thrusts us into the conditions that necessitate Abiding and the benefits or otherwise of abiding steadfastly in Christ Jesus.
CONDITIONS NECESSITATING ABIDING IN CHRIST: THE UNSTABLE WORLD:
Our Text falls within the last Discourse of Jesus as He faces Jerusalem, the impending betrayal, suffering and death. Jesus also saw the victory and triumph over sin, the devil and the forces of evil and the world. He saw the glory that was laid up for Him. He saw the life and contentions of all who believe in Him and the attacks of the world and Satan to abort the fruitfulness of His dominion. The turning point of the antagonism and determination to eliminate Jesus Christ was the restoration of Lazarus from the dead in John 11. It was such that the Jewish leadership sought to kill Jesus as a way of preventing the Romans from taking over their place and Nation. Such that Caiaphas said “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one Man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish”. Here we see the vicarious death of Jesus Christ fulfilling Isaiah 53 and the testimony of John the Baptist that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. One Man for all Nations.
In John 12 we see the predictions concerning the death of Jesus in the anointing at Bethany and the fact that His death shall bring about greater harvest, the purpose of His coming and the time for the Father to be glorified will be through the death of Jesus Christ. In chapters 13 to 18 Jesus spent more time with His Disciples teaching and instructing them on the events that would come, His death, Resurrection, Ascension and glorification, and the coming of the Holy Spirit and His indispensable presence and work in the Believers, the Eternal Hope, Home and expectations of the Believers, the certainty of Jesus accomplished the work of salvation and the power of God and His Word in safeguarding and empowering the Believers in Christ who were called out of the world. The believers will face the hatred and antagonism of the world. The Mission of the Church is in the context of hatred and attacks of the world. Jesus did not mince words in instructing His Disciples that the context of their new life, Missions and witnessing to Him was dangerous and treasonous. The world in which the Church exists is an unstable world and an environment of hatred, persecution and whose systems are in contradiction to the will and purpose of the Sovereign God.
When the New Testament speaks of the world, two words are of particular interest, namely, “kosmos and aion”. Kosmos bears several meanings such as [a] the physical Earth as distinguished from Heaven and its order. [b] it also means the Human race to whom Jesus came to save. By His coming into the world Jesus is the light of the world. [c] The world can mean the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews, a world that is under the rule of the Gentile gods, system and rebellion and as such needs to be reconciled to God. Kosmos/ world is the present condition of human affairs in alienation from and opposition to God. This world has the capacity to corrupt, it hates God and its works are evil; it has its own spirit that is distinct from the Holy Spirit; and Galatians 4:3 states that when we were children or have not known the Lord Jesus Christ, we were in bondage under the elements of the world. Jesus speaks of the prince of this world which is Satan. [d] the world also refers to the sum of the temporal possessions or material possessions or mammon that seek to control the hearts and lives of people that demand equal devotion as should be given to the Living God. Aion simply means “age” or “period of time” which is marked by spiritual or moral characteristics. It is also translated as “World”.
This age or world has its own ways and wisdom and sometimes the sons of this age outwit the children of light. In Matthew 13:22, Jesus talks of the ‘cares’ of this world. There is a fashion of this world to which Believers in Christ should not be conformed to. This world is temporal and will pass away. The Scripture admonishes us “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust [the consuming desire] of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
The worldly system and operations are continually running in contrast to what God desires for humanity. Let it be known that this world and all in it were created and sustained by the power of the Living God. And as the God of order and intelligence, this physical, social, political and spiritual laws of the world are derived from the God Almighty. The worldly system may be hijacked by the human operators but ultimate accountability shall be to God. Whenever the Godly ethical, moral and spiritual laws and guidelines are violated, humanity has always been brought to heinous wickedness that always threaten our very existence.
The 21st Century has witnessed both the wonders of the scientific and technological advancement but also the chaos of eroding moral and spiritual standards set by God. Our Postmodern world is in rebellion against the living God and His Word, just because humanity has rebelled against the absolute guide and authority from God. The heresy confronting the Church of God is seen in the promotion of rebellion against the Authority of the Word of God and the lifestyle that accords to His Word. We are facing the Postmodern promotion of the new ethics and morality in which the popular culture and the choices of the individual or subculture determines the way of life of the people, rather than the age-long guidance of God. These have given rise to Homosexuality, Lesbianism, Bestiality and other sexual immorality that are ravaging our generation. These practices are out-rightly condemned by God and the Holy Bible.
In our context in Nigeria, belial and mammon, greed and corruption have eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Some people have seen religion as a means to wealth and self-assertion. Religion and tribalism are greatly exploited in our Nation. False Prophets and False Teachers abound with their demonic teachings that oppose the Truth of the Word of God. A situation in which “the end justifies the means” and “Might is Right”, we see increase in wickedness, oppression and corruption both in the Secular and Religious spheres as the enthronement of ungodliness of our time.
There are character traits that are common to the world such as “hidden things of shame, walking in craftiness, and deceitfulness” Coercion and manipulation characterize the ways of the world. Sometimes, as leaders in the Church, we deploy such tactics and approach that are clearly unspiritual and carnal, in order to achieve our selfish goals. These are seen as smartness or ability to maneuver people and situations. These may be seen as wisdom and the end result is quarrel and bitter rivalry and “political correctness”. James admonishes and we need to heed
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown by those who make peace.
Pride and unhealthy rivalry manifest worldliness very clearly. Humility and consideration for the well-being of others and more so the good of all is often not considered in our dealings. The pride of life and human dominance are veiled manifestation of fear of loss of control. The remedy is having the mind of Christ, humility and surrendering to His Lordship. The Scripture demands of us “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded….Humble yourself in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up.”
When the mind is transformed indeed our perception must change, and further be radically changed. The Apostle Paul locates the increasing compromises of Godly standards to perception. He admonishes “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” It is often very difficult to accept thought and ideas that contradict our viewpoint or perception. When God spoke to Zerubbabel that ultimately brute force is not the way that God accomplishes His work, it would sound foolish. But this is the wisdom taught by the Holy Spirit. Worldly demonstration of power and authority is in brute force. But God works by His Spirit to touching hearts and lives so as to perceive the workings of God.
THE ABIDING THAT BRINGS FRUITFULNESS:
In John 15:1-8 we see the Design of God to bringing His children into His Fullness. This fullness comes by Abiding in Christ, In His Word, through pruning, care and flourishing leading unto Fruitfulness. The abiding Jesus speaks of is necessitated by the context of our lives in an unstable world. Daily we face trials, challenges and inexplicable ordeals. Jesus demands that we must endure and remain steadfast and not be moved from our Hope in Him. We must endure loneliness and abandonment, loss and confusion, sometimes doubt and fear. In the midst of all these, Jesus calls us to focus on Him and follow Him. The Hymn writer puts it aptly
Jesus calls us over the tumult, of our life’s wild, restless sea; Day by day His sweet voice soundeth, saying, “Christian, Follow Me!!!” In our joys and in our sorrows, Days of toil and hours of ease, Still He calls, in cares and pleasures, “Christian, love Me more than these!!!”.
 Abiding in Jesus Christ: Jesus makes it clear that for His Disciples to inherit the mansions and home which He has gone to prepare as He promised in John 14:1-4, they need to remain attached to Him. Jesus is the Vine and the believers are the branches and God the Father is the Vine dresser or gardener. The gardener will take away any branch that is not useful and fruitful, the essence is to maximize the intake of nutrients. The branch can only draw nutrients from the mother stem, Jesus is the Stem of the plant. He is indispensable for the existence and fruitfulness of the believer. We are not like the parasite plant growing on the tree. No, we are but the natural or grafted branch. Jesus said Abide in Me and I in you for without Me you can do nothing which also requires our abiding in the Word of God as the source of nourishment and nurture for the soul and life of the believer.
The Hymn Writer expressed this aptly in the hymn:
I could not do without Thee, I cannot stand alone, I have no strength or goodness, No wisdom of my own: But Thou, beloved Saviour, Art all in all to me; And weakness will be power, if leaning hard on Thee.
Separation from Jesus will mean dryness and the consequence of being cut off from the source of water, nutrients and life. Jesus spoke of one of the fundamental faults leading many people away from abiding in Christ, the issue of covetousness, greed and materialism which are rooted in selfishness. In the parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21 Jesus depicts the attitude of the Fool. “The Fool has said in his heart there is no God or the fool lives as though there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good”. The rich man was a fool because he excluded God in his estimations and everything was simply about himself. Sin corrupts the soul, intents and body, attitudes and actions of the person. It is the rejection to submit to God, sin is a rebellion against the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Abiding in Christ is a total and continuous surrender of our hearts, desires and wills or aspiration to the judgement and scrutiny of God, His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Abiding in the Word of God: Jesus deepened the meaning and effect of the Word of God as given by the Moses, the Prophets in the Psalms and the other Wisdom Writings of the Old Testament. Jesus taught us the essence of the Commandments of God, He fulfills the Scripture. Jesus says that the Word which He speaks are spiritual and carry life and power. It is rooted in God. He said “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. ” Mere legalism breads death, but the Word of God when received in Faith and activated by the Holy Spirit gives life to the spirit, soul and body. It enlightens our understanding, guides our thoughts, informs our heart and will and moves us to actions that are in consonance with the Will and purpose of God.
God gives us His Word as a source of nurturing, sustenance, correction, manual for instruction in righteousness and to equip the believer for every good work. It is the Word of Life and Healing and light to our path in life. It is the weapon for spiritual warfare. We need to cherish and feed from the Word of God, the Bible. Whenever we are in God’s presence just being with Jesus we receive the Word and guidance from Him. The essence of Jesus drawing us to himself in salvation is actually to impact and impart our lives. He wants to carry out His Divine workmanship of transforming worthless persons into instruments of His work and service, shaping and fashioning the people He redeemed into conformity with His own image.
The effective tool in transformation is the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit deploys in “Pruning” and “washing”. This is a process that God does so lovingly in His children and servants. St. Paul expressed it thus “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” The cleansing and conforming of the believer and the Church are essential factors in fruitfulness.
Abiding in Christ and His Word is at the very heart of Fruitfulness and service to God. Spending time with God and His Word is the place to receive from God the revelation of His plans and purpose. This was demonstrated by Jesus thus, “Jesus appointed the twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” Abiding in Christ and His Word is the source of life and nourishment. We need to spend time in prayer, worship and study of the Word of God as our intentional act of obedience and following the Lord Jesus Christ. This we need to do in personal quiet time, in family altar and the corporate Worship and Study of the Word. This is what characterized the life of the earliest believers in Acts 2:42-47, these are the fundamentals of being the Church of God. Abiding in Christ and His Word is rooted in obedience of the individual and the corporate Body of Christ to the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ.
 Pruning by the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit lives and works in the believer helping us to conform to the Image of Christ, teaching us the mind of Christ; and leading us in the way of the Lord. He empowers us to do what God wants us do. But it is not much of doing than of being. God is more interested in who we are becoming than in what we are doing. The power to become in Christ is through the working of the Holy Spirit. This process is called Pruning, the act of cutting off outgrowths and branches that are not helpful for the Vine. God has the master plan of what He is making out of us, just as in Jeremiah 18; at the potter’s wheel. God is fashioning branches and vessels for the Master’s use. Pruning comes by the searching and exposure to the Word as in Heb 4:11-13. It may come through discipline and correction by the Word. Our Church is due for the Discipline of the Word and the Holy Spirit. Purging and cleansing of the Lord is a way of making the body be in good health so as to be productive. In which area of life will the pruning knife or purging by God be? God wants to give us a new lease of life if we let Him do it, it may be our heart, mind, our stomach or hands and legs.
 Flourishing in the fertile soil: The Vine requires much water and manure. When any tree grows in a rich soil it flourishes. It produces much green lives that would not wither. What is this flourishing that will bring us to the fullness and perfection and completeness? It is Faith. Jere 17:5-8 “Cursed is the man whose trust is in man and whose boast is in the flesh… but blessed is then man who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 1 shows us factors that can promote flouring in faith. Ezekiel 47:7-12 exposes the work of the Holy Spirit and the workings of faith. The Healing water from the Altar, the gradual and increasing power that nurtures, the begetting of life and mission as the fishes and fishermen along the bank, the trees which leaves are for healing and fruits for food. Faith without work is dead: James 2:14-17. Be ushered into the fullness of Christ.
There is also a flourishing that has much leaves but no fruit: this we see in Matt 21:18-22. Jesus saw the fig tree by the road side and went in search of the fruits but found nothing. God comes looking for fruit in the Church that looks so flamboyant and found nothing. Such tree is in the danger of being cursed. The lesson from the fig tree is Faith. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive”. Brethren, flourish in the prevailing faith like Abraham, be desperate in trusting God. Romans 4:16-22. Abraham dared believe God for the promise even when it looked impossible verses 18 to 22. Standing in faith you stand in right relationship with God. You can never be wrong trusting God, His Word and promises. Faith makes you flourish in God and have victory over the world as 1John 5:4-5. Brethren, let us walk into our completeness in Christ Jesus.
BENEFITS OF ABIDING IN CHRIST:
FRUITFULNESS: This is the major focus in the teaching of Jesus and expresses the expectation of God of all His creation. Bearing fruit is what God has fashioned every one of us for. It is the evidence of remaining in Christ. It brings glory to God and it is the proof of our Discipleship and persevering in Him.
ACCESS INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD: One of the great gifts that gives to His people is His very presence. It is the presence of God that distinguishes God’s people. God’s presence is like a protective shield over His people. It is God’s glory and covering. But sin, disobedience and rebellion can make God withdraw His presence and so His glory and covering. The consequence of that is disaster and anarchy. Abiding in Christ is the guaranty for seamless access into the presence of God. King David expressed the joy of this access to God’s presence thus; “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” It is a hunger and desire in the heart of every servant and child of God. “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD, all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” [Psalm 27:4]. The result of being in God’s presence is that He will protect, preserve and secure and fight for you. Jesus prayed “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father keep through Your Name those You have given Me, that they may be one as we are…”
ASSURANCE OF ANSWER TO PRAYERS: Jesus assures us that the benefit of abiding in Him is that whatever we shall ask the Father in His Name that we shall receive. Therefore, the assurance of God’s response to prayers is given. When we abide in Christ and have a closer walk with God, there is the tendency that God will reveal His eternal plans and purpose to all who walk with Him. We shall understand His purpose and as such pray for His will to be done. And even when it is not working the way we desire, like Jesus we shall be willing to surrender to His Divine will. This confidence and assurance emboldens the servants of God in such a way that no matter the challenges around us or whatever the world may throw at us, we shall weather the storms of life.
EMPOWERMENT FOR MISSION AND ACCOMPLISHING GOD’S PURPOSE: As grafted scion, every servant of God draws nutrients from the very source of life which is Jesus. As such the life and purpose and thirst for the salvation of souls and power to overcome the alluring of the world shall be given. The heart of the LORD beats for Mission and impactful obedient based Discipleship. Jesus longs for the reconciliation of the world which He loved and died for. “I have given them Your Word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is Truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
GOD IS GLORIFIED: In all His Earthly Ministry and works of signs and wonders, the aim of Jesus was to do the Father’s will, speak the Words of the Father and glorify the Father both by His life and even more by His death and resurrection. The Apostles lived the life of self-emptying or Kenosis such that the glory of God mattered more to them than their own humiliation and suffering. The focus of the servants of God who stood in the times of reformation of the Church was geared towards the Glory of God. It was such that their driving energy was “Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria”. [Martin Luther]. When a person abides in Christ, the out-flow of such life will be to glorify God. In seeking to glorify God, one is bound to encounter suffering. The focus of the early Apostles was summed up in what Paul said: “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, if we deny Him, He also will deny us, if we are faithless, he will remain faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” This is the Integrity of God. If we glorify God now we shall share in His glory that shall be revealed.
ASSURANCE OF ETERNITY WITH CHRIST: Abiding in Christ has a way of stirring up the longing to be with Christ just as Jesus longed to be with the Father. Jesus desired that all who serve Him with spend eternity with Him and be where He Himself is. In that High Priestly prayer of Jesus, He said “Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” It is Eschatological.
THE FRUITFULNESS THAT GOD DESIRES:
Bearing Fruit: What is the use of a fruit tree to grow big and bear no fruit, it has only wasted the soil, manure, space and time. Jesus gave the parable of the fruitless vine representing old Israel even as the gardener pleaded for time to manure and water it. God, the Gardener, is searching for fruit. May He find fruit in us all. Fruitfulness is the end of a process that cannot be short circuited. It is a product of what we are made of and what is inside of us. Who are you is a question that probes what we are made of. Jesus said a good tree will produce good fruit and a bad tree will produce bad fruit. Again every tree produces its own kind of fruit, a mango tree cannot produce oranges. The product of abiding, pruning and flourishing is fruitfulness. The fruit that God is expecting from us;
[a] The Fruit of Repentance: Matt 3:7-10, when John the Baptist saw the many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him he demanded for the fruits that befit repentance. People make mockery of being born again because some people claim to have repented but their life do not show that they have met Jesus Christ, 2Cor5:17.
[b] Fruit of Christian Character as Matt 7:15-20 “By their fruits you will know them” and not by their miracles or gifts or even position occupied in the Church. In 21-23 a dreadful Scripture when all is done Jesus speaks those words of condemnation and rejection, “I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness”. Faith without character erodes everything and makes powerless the Cross of Christ. When a Christian is devoid of Christ like character, it amounts to denial of Jesus. It is the pattern of false prophets and teachers. Jude called them clouds that do not bring rain. The character and likeness/image of Christ must be in us. There is need Bishops, clergy and lay leaders, like Paul the Apostle to desire and for us to travail until Christ is formed in the people.
[c] The Fruit of the Spirit which is the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in every believer’s life. The gifts of the Holy Spirit in Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4 are for service in the Body of Christ. Every member of the Body of Christ whoever that has repented and believed, and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at his/her confirmation has received at least one gift. There is the need for the Pastors, that is the Bishops and Clergy to serve God in teaching and stirring up the gifts that the Holy Spirit has deposited in every member so that they may be equipped for the work of Ministry. The Ministry or service in the Church is for every member of the Church. These Gifts of God is for the Ministry and Ministrations of the Church. We must desire the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The more excellent endowment given to be desired is the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit. Gal 5:22-23 enumerates it such as, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law. These are products of the presence, pruning and working of the Holy Spirit in every believer. The fruit of the Spirit is given by God as security for our calling and election in Christ Jesus.
[d] The Fruit of Soul Winning is a harvest that is so precious to God. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. It is a harvest into the eternal barn in Heaven. Mission is the heartbeat of God and the main Task of the Church. In John 4:34-38, Jesus witnessed to and won the Samaritan woman at the well. She too went and called others to Jesus. When Andrew found Jesus, “he first found his own brother Simon, and said to him “We have found the Messiah” and he brought him to Jesus. Jesus said witnessing to the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, this is His food, His heart’s desire and the purpose of HIS coming. He sent out the Twelve Apostles and the seventy-two for Mission, He gave the Church the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16: 16-18. There is great eternal reward for bringing converts to Christ Jesus. The crown of righteousness and the shining as the Stars of heaven. Daniel 12:3 states “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”. Jesus said that He called us that we may bear fruit and that our fruit may last or abide in Him. The way to bear the fruit that will abide is through Discipleship as in Matthew 28:18-20. Any Christian or Church that wants to be relevant to God and His Kingdom must make God’s priority his/their priority. To seek first, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness then God will prove Himself.
God desires that we live in the fullness of life and operate optimally in the perfection in Christ Jesus. he has a Desire for us which of good and not of evil, to give you a hope and to bring you to an expected end. God has also prepared a design as the vine so that He will be glorified.
VINE AS REPRESENTATION OF SALVATION, KINGDOM MISSION AND HARVEST: A vineyard is so important that a man who had planted a vineyard can be exempted from military service according to Deuteronomy 20:6. The Vine supplied fruits, raisins and processed for wine. No doubt it was an industry that employed much labour. The time of harvest is considered a time of blessing and joy. In the end of time God will visit this world with judgement. Apostle Paul expounded on the place of Israel as God’s chosen people and the reality of the seeming present exclusion from the righteousness and salvation that comes by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. As he recounted the privileges of the
Israelites to whom pertain the Adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises, of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, Who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
God in His Sovereignty excluded the Israelites so that He will accomplish the Mystery of the Vine in the salvation of the Gentiles. The Salvation of the Gentiles is in fulfilment of the prophecy of Hosea thus “I will call them My people, who were not My people and her beloved, who was not beloved” God has shown mercy and favour to the Gentiles, in order to provoke a righteous jealousy that will make the remnants of Israel to come to Christ. “For if their cast away is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Halleluiah!!! God will surely restore the remnant of Israel and that gives us the hope that God will restore as many people as will repent and return to Christ Jesus.
Jesus is the True Vine and we are the branches. And this is by the grace and mercy of God and requires that we remain and abide in Christ. It requires that we be humbly and totally dependent on God. God broke off the original branches in order to graft the Gentiles into the True Vine, such that we have become partakers with the children of Abraham in the promises and covenant blessings of God. As the Scripture says
And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
This brings out clearly the necessity for us to abide in that which God did for us in Christ. We were grafted into the true Vine and we draw benefits of the Eternal Life.
God is saying to us that we must “Take Heed to ourselves”. There is a note of caution “Be careful and do not be puffed up”. The fact that we were preferred to others, or succeeded where some failed or are better off than others is by the mercy and help of God. Let us hear the Word of God: “You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in”. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore, consider the goodness and the severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off…” Jesus the “True Vine” will harvest and rapture the saints who remain in Him in spite of the trials, sufferings and persecutions of the world. They shall be harvested into the Eternal Barn. The fruit of the Mission, in doing the will of the Father and finishing His work, is in this ‘white and ready’ Harvest of souls. Jesus talks of the task of harvesting souls and gathering fruit for Eternal Life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
VINE AS SYMBOL OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT: In declaring that He is the “True Vine” it implies that there is the “false vine” just as there is the “wild Vine” or grapes”. In Revelations the Scripture states “Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgement” so the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the winepress of God’s wrath. The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and the blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.” The Winepress is a place of processing the grapevines harvested from the Vineyard.
The flip side of this Eternal harvest in God’s Vineyard is the harvest of the “Vines of the Earth”. These are evil clusters that are ripe for harvest of God’s judgement. The clusters of the Vines of the Earth will be crushed in the Winepress of judgement and their blood will flow. This is one of the hard and frightening messages that looks cruel. But surely the judgement of God will come upon evil and wickedness.
The Scripture clearly paints the picture of the eschatological judgement of God on the Vines of the Earth,
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
It is important that we know that unless we are mindful of the necessity and certainty of the judgement of God, we may never see our desperate need for God’s mercy. As we talk of Vineyard, Grapevine and the Vine, it is necessary to know that the Scriptures presents God’s judgement with the imagery of the Vine. The unfruitful branch is cut off and withers to be burnt in fire. The unfruitful Vineyard will have its hedge removed, the water and manure will cease and eventually will be left to be devoured. The unfaithful Vineyard owner will be dispossessed and his labour be eaten by the enemy. These are severe consequences of unfaithfulness to God.
THE CAUSES OF NOT ABIDING AND UNFRUITFULNESS:
Satan, the wicked one and the prince of this world: The great enemy of God and God’s people is the Devil, the wicked one, that old serpent. He comes to attack, plunder and destroy. He steals the Word and instructions of God and exchanges the Truth with pride, lies and deceits and makes us not to remain in Christ and therefore unfruitful.
Persecution and tribulations: these tend to shake people to the foundation of their confidence. When the people who are more resourced and stronger or who have evil intension rise up against you it is always a challenge remaining focused and abiding. Many people tend to give up the pursuit of truth just to have respite and continue with life or join the stronger and popular side rather than suffer for the sake of Truth and that which will serve for the good of all. Often the strong and influential pursue their personal agenda and drive to control people and system for their own benefit at all cost. They afflict pain and suffering on others including calumny in order to get their way. Affliction is an instrument of aborting the intentions of people. Not many people will endure suffering, affliction and pains to defend the Truth and good. Compromise is a currency in worldly dealing.
Thorns of the cares of this world: One would have expected that Jesus would have called trials and pains “thorns”. In Matthew 13:22, He calls worry/cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches “thorns”. The sharper weapon and deeper impact on the soul, integrity and character of any person comes from things that make one dispose of what makes him a distinguished personality. Perseverance or endurance is a manly virtue. The ability not to sell one’s birth-right for a pot of porridge or soup just like Esau is the great resistance. The deceit and pride of position, material possession and fleshly pleasures are easy weapons that abort the fruit that comes from Christ. Balaam the Greedy Prophet failed to bring curses upon Israel, but he showed King Balak the subtle weapon of sexual sin and idol worship as more lethal weapons that could destroy God’s people. It worked in the wilderness against Israel in the wilderness and it is a lethal weapon against us in our earthly journey.
Impact of false Teachers and Prophets: The spiritual, material and social impact and gains from our walk with God can easily be aborted by distortion of the Sound Doctrine. The way that leads to life is winding and narrow and not many people go through it. Falsehood is popular and flashy and has alluring power. It is cheaper than Truth but ends in bitter disappointment, pain and shame. God gives the best at the end and sometimes when you have had terrible challenges. Resisting false teachings and deceitful enticement is the sure way to bear Godly fruit but it is painful and costly.
Wickedness, laziness and evil perception against God and His Kingdom: The enemy attacks the root of fruitfulness by attacking Godly character, mind-set, understanding and perception. In its place ungodly attitudes take control. When a person’s life is taken over by evil perception and wickedness, such person cannot bear fruit and because he has made the flesh his source of strength, he will not abide in God.
Unforgiveness and rivalry: Unhealthy sentiments will breed bitterness against people. Unhealthy rivalry may give temporal success and achievements but the goal is the promotion of selfishness. When people don’t forgive they are bound to be hurting and a hurting soul cannot bear fruit that will last to eternity. A liberal soul grows fat, is set free to become and do what God has designed him for. Unforgiveness and bitterness create rivalry and therefore unfruitfulness. Evil heart of unbelief, murmuring and complaints: Worldly lust and idol worship and defilement of the spirit and body are sources of unfruitfulness and makes a person not to abide in Christ and in the Word of God.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF NOT ABIDING AND UNFRUITFULNESS:
Danger of being Cut off the Vine and source of Life: Jesus warned that anyone who does not abide in Him and therefore cannot bear fruit will be cut off from the Vine. The danger of being severed or separated from the source of life and joy, peace and help of God hangs over every choice to live without God. God in His sovereign power chooses to show His benevolence on all. He makes the rain to fall on both good and evil. It is possible to enjoy the good things of life and yet not know the Lord of Life. The value of the salvation of soul outweighs the pleasures of life. Jesus said “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul”. The greatest danger of not abiding in Christ is that one is spiritually dead and separated from God, the source of True life.
Dry and be burnt in fire and Eternal Consequence: As we are living in the dispensation of the grace of God instant judgement is withheld. But yet the wicked must surely be punished. The more painful severance is the Eternal judgement and condemnation. The severe judgement of God is coming; therefore we persuade people to repent and be forgiven and be reconciled to God.
Lot’s wife and escape from the worldliness: We should learn the lesson from the fate of Lot’s wife. Worldliness and attachment to things has a way of enslaving people to self-annihilation and extinction. The consequence of not abiding in Christ and the Word of God is that one perishes with the world and passes away with it. Refuse to end with the world, instead be determined to enter the commonwealth of God, the eternal glory that shall be revealed at the coming of Christ and the transformation of our lowly bodies to becoming like His glorious body.
God’s disapproval and curse and the anger of God: There may be the possibility of putting on leaves and yet have to fruit. Appearance can sometimes be deceitful. When we are religious but lack the character and abiding obedience following we stand the danger of being disapproved by God. People may hail us but the most important is the approval of God.
The land that receives rain but fails to produce fruit is at the danger of being cursed: God desires fruitfulness. There are many parables of Jesus that show that God is interested in our success, making gains and bearing fruit. The purpose of God’s endowments is for spiritual, material and social gains that are morally acceptable to God and for the good of humanity. One can make impact without defrauding others or being oppressive or deceitful. When God blesses us with unusual connection, blessings and provisions He expects us to bear fruit and if we fail, such stand the danger of being cursed and unprofitable.
A timely warning for the Saints of the Loss of Eternal Inheritance like the Israel that came out of Egypt: The teaching of Jesus on the True Vine is a timely warning for the Saints of our time so that we shall learn from the Israel of old who came out of Egypt. The danger of being overtaken in the wilderness by the influence of the mixed multitude who never knew the God of Israel, or by the misleading of Religious leaders like Aaron who made the Golden Calf and made Israel to celebrate Idols rather than the true God, or by grumbling and scheming and complaining against the leadership instead of obedience, or be like Korah and his men who rebelled against Moses. If God did not condone the sin of Israel and viewed sin as wickedness and rebellion against God and His Word, then this just God will not allow our wickedness and rebellion go unpunished.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE THEME FOR THE CHURCH AND NATION:
The Necessity for Individual Assurance of Salvation and Abiding: The first issue that “Abiding in Christ” brings to the fore is, our relationship with Christ and one another. Jesus desires that every believer be faithful and remain in Him, in obedience and diligent fellowship. This comes by true conversion and sincerity in faith and obedience in Christ. The individual’s assurance of forgiveness of sin and salvation of the soul through faith in Christ Jesus the True Vine is very essential. This faith is an experience and encounter with the Living God that makes us to willingly surrender our will to God to obey Him and keep His Word. It is a journey and does not end till death. It means that every day we must renew our loyalty to Christ and diligently follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is true for every Believer no matter how young or old or how long one has been in the Church.
The Growing and Fruitfulness in Life: The branch of the Vine can only grow and bear fruit and be an integral part of the True Vine so long as it remains in the tree. It can only remain as it draws nutrients from the Vine. Spiritual Growth and fruitfulness comes when there is a spiritual hunger and desire to know the Lord the more and grow deeper in our walk with God. Growth comes by the study of the Word of God, obedience and practice of faith, Prayer, spiritual exercise of fasting and deliberate steps in sanctifying one’s life and practice of love and sacrificial service to God and humanity. Growth comes also through trials of life and faith, for when we endure trials and are helped by God, we learn and grow.
The Fundamental place of Discipleship in the Ministry of the Church: The Anglican Church is rooted in Pastoral and Nurturing in faith as her way to Ministry. Every Minister is first a Pastor then an Evangelist, Prophet, Teacher etc. The practice of Ministry and Liturgy is such that the Family is the focal point. The spiritual needs of the person from birth till death are covered. Where the children, young people and new converts and enquirers or catechumen are involved, then nurturing in faith through teaching and pastoral guidance is central to our ministry. To this end Discipleship and the Teaching Ministry of the Church must be rediscovered and intentionally given critical attention. Discipleship is the means of grooming, nurturing and pruning in faith through the intentional study of the Word of God. When we fail to do so our members will be “tossed to and fro carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” of our time. Let us return to the Teaching Ministry of the Church through intentional Discipleship.
Need to Contend for the Faith: When Jude wrote that short but powerful Epistle and pleaded that the Saints should contend for the Faith delivered or handed over to them, it was in a situation of compromise of the Truth, and danger of watering down the Doctrine and tenets of the Faith in Christ Jesus. Contending for the faith calls for standing out of the crowd and choosing to be true and loyal to God than to men. Obviously contending for the Faith calls for separation and division. Paul admonishes us that there is no fellowship between light and darkness and between the Temple of God and Belial. In the essentials of our faith there must be unity among believers in Christ Jesus. There must be clarity as to where we stand and hold on to. God desires that we walk worthy of the calling with which He called us, in humility, gentleness, patience in relating with one another and maintaining the bond of peace which the Holy Spirit gives. This is radically different from following the dictates of culture, popular opinions, and fashions of the world.
National Restoration: The predicaments around us breed fear, deceit, decline, loss and death. In the midst all these, God calls us to return to Him the source of life in repentance. His promise is that He will restore to us whatever the locusts have eaten up and recover all that was lost. Peace and gentle consideration of others have eluded us in Nigeria. God has the panacea to our malady and anarchy, it the peace that this world cannot give which is in Christ Jesus. The Word of God has the power to transform the individual and turn such a person into the Instrument that God would use to transform the Church and Society. The Church must engage the Society where we live and Minister. We need a National Rebirth. The paralysis that is confronting our people and the nation is that we are getting numbed by the constant killings such that the abnormal is becoming normal. Secondly, we are tired, confused and not knowing how to respond to the evil happening around us. Often the response of Prayer and righteous anger against the wickedness being perpetrated is weak. Nigeria is gradually relapsing to coma and stupor. God wants to awaken our consciousness to the possibilities that He alone can bring into our situation. Thus the shout of Heaven is “Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of My people?”. God will heal our people, the Church and our Nation. God will surely heal our traumatized people, purge the Church of worldliness and refocus her leadership in the things of God’s Kingdom, Righteousness and hear the Voice of the oppressed; He will heal our Nation and deliver our land from power of Hades has unleashed upon the people.
Stability as Essential for the Future of Church and Nation: Peace, Justice and Equity are essential ingredients for a growing and prospering Nation and people. Wherever these are lacking there is bound to be a discord. The noise of discontent is very loud in our National life which has been occasioned by insecurity, outright disregard of the principles and policies laid down for fairness in the polity. The shielding and preference for a particular group or tribe and their interest over and against other people groups and interests is the root of agitations in Nigeria. The agitations of some people for self-determination in an independent nation as ours is a cry for fairness and inclusiveness. It is a warning sign that the fundamentals of our unity have been eroded. The leadership of the nation need to listen to the citizens and strive for Stability. As a family, Church or nation the greatest danger is the internal divisions and sectional interests that can so easily bring down the nation or Church. This Church and Nation belongs to all of us. We need to engage each other and be considerate in dealing with every citizen. Agitators have a right of self-expression but it must be done within the ambits of the law and the context of abiding in the whole or stem. Not many branches can survive when separated from the main stem. Agitations must not cost the lives of the citizens or infringe on their freedom to move around and engage in their lawful businesses. Let us remain in one and build up together. We are better off abiding as one. The Church and nation need spiritual, liturgical, moral, social, and political unity and abiding together to make good progress, grow together and bear much fruit for the benefit of all.
THE MINISTERIAL FOCUS:
In Defense of the Gospel: The Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] in this end time is calling for the defense of the Gospel. We are totally committed to contending for the faith once for all delivered to the Saints. Together with all Bishops, Clergy and Laity we shall stand against the Revisionist trange doctrines that deny the Authority of the Word of God, the Bible and its power to order and guide our lives and practice. We will continue to uphold the Orthodox faith in Christ Jesus, the Authority of the Scripture and the Anglican Heritage as we have received it. We shall not yield to the shrewd or subtle appeal of the Church of England or The Episcopal Church (TEC) in America/Canada or their agents to compromise the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Family Focused Ministry: Our Ministry will have special focus on building healthy Christian Marriages and Family life as a means of building a healthy Church and nation. We shall uphold the teachings of the Bible on Marriage and Family life, and the Resolution 1.10 of 1998 Lambeth Conference which states that “In view of the teaching of the Scripture [the Bishops] uphold faithfulness in Marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believe that abstinence is right for those who are not called to Marriage. It also rejects homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture and cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.” Therefore, the Church of Nigeria remains resolute against Homosexuality, Lesbianism, Bestiality, Transgender and Cross-gender life styles and will not associate with any Church Denomination or organization or Province that accommodates, supports or allows such ungodly practices. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) (CON) shall remain “out of Communion with those churches that allow the blessing of same-sex relationships or encourage solemnization of same-sex marriages and practice or admit to holy orders/ordain those in same-sex marriages and those churches that pursue other departures from Biblical teaching”. [circulation]. We shall stand with all GAFCON member Provinces to uphold the JERUSALEM GAFCON DECLARATION 2008 as our clear and definitive statement of our Anglican Faith Heritage. Brethren, “it is appointed unto us on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Jesus Christ but also to suffer for Him”. This is our resolve.
Equipping the Saints: The Church of Nigeria remains resolute against every ungodly practice that is contrary to the Biblical faith such as occultism and its practices, the merchandizing of the Gospel and falsehood, every spiritual wickedness and segregation based on tribe or promotion of selfish ambitions over God’s Righteousness and Kingdom. The best way to defend the Gospel is to be rooted and built up in the teaching of the sound Word of God and living out the character of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we shall continue to build the faith of the Church members through the Teaching Ministry on the wholesome Word of God, Worship and Witness. The Healthy Church will be built by Healthy Pastors. Therefore, the review and strengthening of our Theological Education and Ministerial formations will be pivotal for the Church. Sustaining and expanding the existing training programmes will be a priority in meeting the needs of the Church in these challenging times.
Mission our Main Task: This Church exists to obey the Lord Jesus Christ and to carry out the Great Commission as He commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18. Mission and Evangelism will continue to be our foremost Task. All Mission organizations and the Church of Nigeria Missionary Society (CNMS) will be repositioned for the task of Mission. Africa will be our main focus but we shall work with other Christian Mission organizations to engage in World Mission and shall host World Mission Conference.
The Decade of 2020-2030 shall be to us THE DECADE OF THE REIGN OF GOD. This Decade shall be for “Re-Evangelization and Discipleship” in the Church of Nigeria. Our attention will be given to consolidation of the achievements of the Decade of Evangelism but with more attention given to spiritual nurturing and equipping the believers to live and serve God and Humanity, and prepare the Saints for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, presenting everyone holy and blameless before Him. Ministry with the Men, Women, Youth and Children will receive particular emphasis as a way to build the Church of the future. As part of the Mission we shall engage the local communities and groups in wholistic Mission through impactful social work that will have direct bearing on the lives of the people especially the poor, the weak and vulnerable people in our rural and urban communities. The Church of Nigeria Ministry will remain Jesus Christ Centered, Bible Based and Family Focused.
FIVE BILLION NAIRA [N5Billion] MISSION TRUST FUND:
There is an enormous need for funds to sustain and accomplish work in Mission, Education, Communications and Ministry of the Church of Nigeria. To this end we have appealed for a Five Billion Naira Fund to carry out the establishment of the Anglican University of Technology, Kwaita, Abuja; the Missions of the Church within and outside Nigeria, the strengthening of our Church establishments and Institutions and sustain our Ministry and key role in the world-wide Church. We have received some support and pledges but greater involvement and support are needed. The Church of Nigeria Economic team is working to see that every money given is properly accounted for and judiciously managed. We appeal passionately to our members, Dioceses, and Governments at all levels to assist the Church of Nigeria in realizing these laudable objectives.
We want to appreciate the pledges made by some eminent persons to support this effort of the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] and invest in human development. The Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike pledged to support the Anglican University of Technology with the sum of Five Hundred Million Naira [N500M]; and Prince Arthur Eze also pledged to support the University Project with the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira [N250M]. There are several others giving to this Fund. May God Almighty the Sovereign LORD of all the Earth remember you all and bless you, may He have regard for your sacrifice and bless you, your Families, Dioceses and States. The Designated Account is CHURCH OF NIGERIA [ANG COMM] UNIVERSITY PROJECT; GTBANK: ACCOUNT NUMBER: 061157778.
CHURCH OF NIGERIA MISSIONS:
REPOSITIONING THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA MISSIONS SOCIETY [CNMS]: The reconstituted CON Mission Board and the Management Committee of the CNMS have started their work. The Board has held several meetings by Zoom and physical consultations. They have put in place the conditions of service and welfare for all our Mission partners and workers. The salary of our Mission Partners have been centralized and we make effort to see that they are paid promptly. We thank all our Board members ably led by Archbishop Tunde Adeleye. The Executive Secretary of CNMS, Ven. Dr Adepoju and the Management Team are doing very well. They have moved into the Mission Centre in Osoogun. They have started consultations and collaborations with Dioceses on Mission training and partnership. This is a follow-up on the Consultation of the Bishops on Strategic Missions held in Archbishop E. Ademowo’s Conference Centre, Lagos. The Mission Team co-ordinates the Mission fields in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The success of the Joshua Generation International Mission Conference brought in about 2,500 youths from across the length and breadth of the Country to be nurtured for Mission work. Currently some have gone through the On-Line Mission Course being run by the Bishop Ajayi Crowther Mission Institute Osoogun. We thank Ven. Adepoju and his team. There are still many lands to be conquered and the harvest is ripe and more labourers and resources are needed. Pray, partner, give and support the Missionary outreaches in our Dioceses and the CNMS. This is the way to invest in the Kingdom of God.
BISHOP AJAYI CROWTHER MISSION CENTRE AND INSTITUTE, OSOOGUN: The Management team led by Ven. Dr. Adepoju has moved into the Mission Centre in Osoogun. We are still developing more houses and facilities for the Centre. A Christian Family has come to partner with the Church of Nigeria in building some Staff Quarters for our workers in the Centre. We have drilled a new and functional Borehole and work is in progress now. We need Classrooms, Library and other Facilities for the Centre. As soon as the COVID-19 situation is adequately resolved, we shall start residential Mission trainings. This will start with retraining and re-orientation of all our Mission partners in the field. The Centre will give strategic training to Missionaries who will engage some challenging Mission openings.
JOSHUA GENERATION CHILDREN AND YOUTH MISSIONS: The Joshua Generation Mission is an umbrella Mission of the Church that intentionally targets the children and Young people. It seeks to raise the young people of the Church as a Mission force for the Church and the nations. It aims at reaching them with the Gospel but also to empower them socially, educationally, economically and politically that they may occupy the seven mountains of influence the society. We desire to raise the youth who, like Joshua and Caleb, will conquer their generations for God’s Kingdom and impact our society. This is the Church’s response to the exodus and migration of our Youths to other denominations. This is our response to raising the next generation for Christ who will lead the families, Church and nation. This is the Church’s response to the anarchy and challenges confronting our young people in Nigeria today. We have made some contacts and plans to assist in the training of some Young people in Agriculture and Entrepreneurship. We need individuals and Governments and Organizations to sponsor the training of these young Christians in Agro-economics, Technology and Entrepreneurial engagements. Our vision is that these young people will be released into the world-wide Missions of the Church of God. Please help us to actualize this Vision as you invest in our Youth Mission.
DIASPORAL AND STRATEGIC MISSION IN NIGERIA: One of the new developments being witnessed in Nigeria today is the mass movement of many northern youths to the southern towns and cities. This is both for economic reason as well as religious Islamization agenda that is unfolding on every front. It is not only in the towns and cities but the more worrying development is the herders who occupy the bushes and forests of some communities. While we commend the efforts of the Governors and Community leaders in resolving these issues and forging a peaceful relationship, we see the very presence of these migrants as a new Mission Field. The Church of Nigeria is reconceiving the Nomadic Missions and response to these developments but it will be better that the Dioceses in the South will collaborate and partner with the Dioceses in the North to work strategically in reaching out to these northern migrants. The attempts made in places are yielding every fruitful result. This year we have planted about six of such churches. If we fail to take this Mission Task seriously, this door may close or become more difficult in the next five to ten years. Make haste while it is still day, the night is coming when no man can work.
CHURCH OF NIGERIA NORTH AMERICA MISSION [CONNAM]: The CANA Mission is currently undergoing some changes. We have legally dissolved CANA as a legal entity due to some functional challenges. In its place we have CONNAM as our organ for Mission in America. We visited from 20th to 27th June 2021. During the visit we dedicated the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity, Sugarland, Houston which is the Cathedral of the Diocese of the West where Rt. Rev Dr. Felix and Mrs Lilian Orji are serving as Diocesan Bishop, as the Supervising Bishop for ADOTT and the Co-ordinating Bishop for CONNAM. We had fruitful meetings and consultations with the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of CONNAM churches and Dioceses. It afforded us the opportunity to make clear our Mission in America.
The Church of Nigeria is not interested in an expansionist move in America. We have our sons and daughters who are strongly connected to their home in Nigeria. The situation in America necessitated that we provide them with a Spiritual Harbour where they can worship and live out their Christian faith and calling. We are mindful that America is quite different from Nigeria and we have many independent Churches and Ministries that have gone out to America to establish themselves. We cannot afford to compete with them here in Nigeria and also lose our people to them in America, because they offer what is uniquely Nigerian appeal spiritually and pastorally. The Church of Nigeria [ Anglican Communion] only maintains a “Pedagogical Presence in America”. We stand to encourage and enable all Faithful Anglicans who share our convictions on the Authority of the Scripture, faithfulness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the Anglican Heritage as we have received it, that they be who they ought to be in Christ and do the Mission of the Church of God. We have enough people, Bishops and Dioceses in Nigeria that we serve. We have enough problems to wrestle with. We are not in America to make money from America. We pay our dues to GAFCON and other International Christian Church Bodies. Whenever we travel to America we pay all our bills. The Church of Nigeria does not and will not levy or receive money from CONNAM Churches and Dioceses. Instead some of our Dioceses have supported the Mission work going on in America.
In consultation with the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of CONNAM, we are embarking on the restructuring of the COONAM Mission in America. A situation wherein the Dioceses are non-geographic and they all compete with each other, there is bound to be some bitter rivalries. There is no room for rivalry in this Mission, but there is much room for collaboration, working together and mutual support. This applies both to CONNAM and our relationship with ACNA. During the meetings we held with Bishops and some of the Leaders of CONNAM in Houston, we set up two Committees, one to give us a proposal on the restructuring of the Boundaries of areas of Diocesan Mission Work and the second Committee would give us the Legal and Administrative system that CONNAM should use for effectiveness in their operation. We want to appreciate the work and report submitted by Bishop Orji and Attorney Muyiwa Sobothe Chancellor of CONNAM. These submissions will inform the resolutions of this Synod on the CONNAM Missions. We trust God that the Mission of CONNAM will continue to grow and impact the work of God in America.
THE FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA: The Foreign Missions has held several Zoom consultations, the last one was on the 6th August 2021. We gave the exhortation and also shared the CON Vision and direction of the Foreign Missions. Brother Leo Bawa [CAPRO/WEC UK] spoke on “The Mission Burden in Europe and UK: the Challenges and Opportunities”. It was a good paper that elicited engaging and useful discussion from all the participants. We are excited at what God is doing through our dynamic Clergy serving God in every Continent of the world. We received reports from Europe and UK; Japan; the Gulf and Asian Countries, South America, East and Central Africa, and the West African Region. We are working on developing our Global Mission Strategic Evangelization Programme. We resolved that our recruitment will be based on the needs of the Mission Zones. Some areas pose more challenges than others. The greatest need is Funding the Missions. There is need to encourage the Gulf Missions because of the danger and sacrifice required in the Zone.
The West and Central African Missions will need a good structure in building up the indigenous leadership and membership who will be able to face the rising challenges of strong Islamization. The Vision is to raise indigenous beacons of the Light of the Gospel who will Proclaim Christ faithfully in the nations. This requires urgent action from the Church of Nigeria. The encroachment and fast islamic spread in the South American countries is frightening. We are carrying out surveys and study to determine Mission engagements in these Latin America and Roman Catholic dominated countries. The door of Missions and Church planting is to open the fields that are ready for the Eternal Harvest but the labourers and Funds are few, therefore we pray that God will raise the labourers and supporters of His Missions to the world.
THE BISHOP-MISSIONER OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA: The enormity of the Missions Task requires that we have an experienced Bishop to assist the CNMS, at Bishop Ajayi Crowther Mission Centre and Institute Osoogun, and Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary and serve as Mission Consultant of the Church. The Rt. Rev. Abiodun Ogunyemi has been appointed as the BISHOP-MISSIONER of the Church of Nigeria. He is based in Abeokuta and he is currently serving the Church of God in Missions.
We inaugurated the Church of Nigeria Prayer Mobilization for Mission on Thursday, 22nd July 2021. We have charged them to always cry to God on behalf of the Church and the nation; organize regular fasting and Prayer programmes for the Church and the nation, coordinate Provincial prayer partners for the purpose of evangelism and support, organize prayer support cover for Church of Nigeria programmes and Service arms, especially in their retreat/conferences and organize daily prayer chain for the Church and the state of the nation. We thank God for the Church of Nigeria Prayer Team led by Rt. Rev’d Sosthenes Eze for the vision to establish the Church of Nigeria Prayer School (CONPRAS) as a composite part of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Missions Enterprise. We have the mandate to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth and to possess the Nations as we pray. We have appointed Ven. Oluwaseun Owoeye as the CoN Prayer Mobilization Desk officer in the Primate’s Office. We thank all Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy and laity for participating in the 24/7 Prayer Chain, Fasting and Prayer and the National Prayer Conference. We therefore encourage you all to get in touch with the Prayer Desk officer for regular prayer update and program of the Church of Nigeria. Each Diocese and Province should ensure they have functional Prayer Coordinator that will work with the Church of Nigeria Prayer Desk office.
PEACE AND RECONCILIATION EFFORTS:
We give glory to God Almighty and thank our Church fathers, Clergy and Laity in all the affected Dioceses and parts of our Church. We pay due compliments to the Taskforce teams and Supervising Bishops working in the different areas. Ukwa Diocese: we are making progress in resolving the issues in Ukwa Diocese. The setback was in getting the agreed things done. But with the meeting of the Stakeholders, the Archbishop and Bishops and Diocesan Representatives of the Province at Owerrinta, hosted by Archbishop Nwobia of Aba Province, much resolution have has been made. The Bishop’s Retirement House is nearing completion. We had hoped that this would have been completed before the Standing Committee meeting. Peace is returning to the Diocese. The Rt. Rev. Manasseh has been appointed to supervise the Diocese of Ukwa and to drive the peace process to a perfect conclusion by making sure that the provision of the things needed fro the retiring Bishop are fully met for his disengagement.
Igbomina Diocese: following the Archbishop Akanya’s Visitation team much was achieved but there were some issues that needed to be sorted out. The Primate and the Church of Nigeria Officials met with Bishop Adekola and the Dean of St. Michael’s Cathedral Esie and their Five-man Teams to seek for lasting solution. After our deliberations we resolved that every stumbling block to peace must be removed. Thus, the Diocesan Synod Resolution to move the Cathedral Church from Esie was suspended on the directives of the Primate and the Cathedral Church was demanded to remove every conditions they had put and pursue peaceful resolution. Furthermore, we set up two Internal Peace Teams namely the Bishop and the Dean with their Senior Clergy and the Five Eminent Laity to this Peace Consultation from each side which will form the Laity Peace Team. They have worked tirelessly and submitted their reports. We are hoping that before the DIVCCON in November 2021 every matter will have been resolved to make way for a whole Diocesan Reconciliation Service.
Zaria Diocese: The Supervising Bishop for Zaria Diocese, Rt. Rev Timothy Yahaya has worked very diligently to sort out issues in the Diocese both with the Government and the members of the Diocese. Governor Nasiru El-Rufai has given us co-operation. In line with his promise to compensate for the demolished Parsonage outside the Cathedral Compound, he has allocated the Diocese a Fenced land in the GRA Zaria. The necessary processed for the acquisition of the land is being carried out and the issues concerning the Cathedral and Vicarage are being followed up duly.
The Primatial Chaplaincy: The Priests appointed to lead the Churches in the Primatial Chaplaincy are doing well but not without their challenges. We have a lot of work to do in those Churches and places that are still resisting our appeal for reconciliation. Some of these Churches are becoming big conglomerates with big congregations and schools in major cities across the country. The challenge of the schismatic groups and actions of some deviant Priests disciplined by their Bishops are raising some problems. We need to safe-guard the Flock of Christ.
REGISTRATION OF THE PATENT OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA [ANGLICAN COMMUNION]: The Registrar of the Church of Nigeria has registered the Patent of the Anglican Communion. Our legal documentations and registration are done. We are putting in place necessary things for action when needed. The challenge of the Orthodox Anglican Church and other groups are to be confronted by the Dioceses affected. The Bishops and the Legal Officers of the Dioceses are hereby directed to do the needful. Whoever that wants to start a church or ministry is free to do so but there is only one Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion]. The Office of the Primate, the National Church is ready to give the necessary support as will be needed by the Dioceses and Provinces.
THE SEVERE PERSECUTIONS OF THE CHURCH: The Christians Communities in some parts of northern Nigeria are being targeted and severely persecuted. We need strong advocacy nationally and more so internationally in order to tackle the internal forces of killer herders, kidnappers and jihadists. Our Dioceses in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Zamfara and Taraba and others States have lost people, properties and communities destroyed by Herders and Terrorists. The demolition of our Churches and kidnapping for ransom have weakened our Dioceses and forced our people to relocate to other places. The International communities and organizations are not speaking out against our sufferings and most of our displaced members are not being assisted by the Federal Government. Some of the IDPs have not received assistance from the Federal Government and some States have not fared better in caring for the displaced persons who are refugees in their own States. We still request that every local Parish should establish Food Banks and collect food, materials and money to help our indigent members. This is now a constitutional requirement in the New Constitution of the Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion], 2020.
EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT:
THE ANGLICAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, KWAITA ABUJA: The Implementation Committee of the Anglican University of Technology, Kwaita Abuja are doing very well. The Chairman Prof. Jerry Gana and his Team have set out an elaborate work plan and they have prepared the necessary documents required for the initial inspections and registration by the National Universities Commission (NUC) such as the Site Plan of the University, the Administration, University Laws, and others. They have collected the Registration Forms which will soon be returned. We are planning to do the Ceremonial Turning of the Sod in November 2021. We shall start the physical development with the building of the Conference/ Convocation Centre which we shall use for our Church Conferences. We appeal for the support of all and sundry for the development of the University so as to contribute to the development of our youth and Nation and engage the future. This University will be a Centre of Scientific advancement, Technological innovation and Academic and Moral Excellence. Individuals, Dioceses and Provinces should be available to assist in the execution of the projects to the glory of God.
THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND CLERGY MINISTERIAL FORMATION: The rate at which false Doctrines and prophesies are spreading and gaining ground demands that the Church should intensify her efforts in adequate Theological education for our Clergy and Church leaders. We appreciate the enormous contributions of our Theological Institutions and we shall continue to support them to stand for the Sound Doctrine and nurture leaders that will be relevant to God’s Kingdom and our Contemporary Society. There will be a Strategic consultation of our Theological Educators on Wednesday 13th October 2021.
THE CROWTHER GRADUATE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, ABEOKUTA: The new Governing Board of the Graduate Seminary is doing well. They need to carry out infrastructural repairs and development of the Institution. The Rector and his Management Team are making great progress. We have received the request from the Governing Board that the Church of Nigeria should advance them with Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000) for the development of the Institution. The new Governing Board was reconstituted with the caliber of members that we hope should be able source for funds and give a new life and activate the full potentials of the Institution. We hereby direct them to assist both the Church and the Institution. The Graduate Seminary Abeokuta, will have a special task of developing a curriculum for the training of the Clergy and leaders of the Francophone and other Missions of West and Central Africa so that we can raise Indigenous Churches in these Mission fields that are Self-Propagating, Self-Supporting and Self-Governing. A Church that can truly withstand the onslaught of Islamization that is sweeping across these regions presently.
GENERAL MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH:
CLERGY WELFARE AND MINISTRY: The welfare of our Clergy and the creation of favourable condition for Ministry remains a very important aspect of the development of the Ministry and growth of the Church. We shall continually demand of the Bishops and the Diocesan Boards to ensure regular payment of the stipends and other allowances due to all Clergy and Church workers. We encourage every Diocese to ensure that the Clergy enroll in the Pension schemes and programmes that will ensure support during their retirement years. We have continued to receive protests and appeals from some Clergy who feel that their cases with their Bishops require the intervention of the Primate. We encourage the Bishops to endeavour to maintain discipline and also show mercy. On the other hand, the level of rebellion among some Clergy who are under disciplinary action is taking a new dimension. We have had encroachment of some newly founded Churches or ministries by such aggrieved Clergy. In any case godly Discipline must be maintained. Obedience remains a hallmark of our walk with the Living God. “Shall we then continue in sin and disobedience that grace may abound? By no means”. We shall plead with our fathers in faith that we temper justice with mercy.
SENOIR CLERGY TRAINING COURSE AND ALL NIGERIA CLERGY CONFERENCE 2020: Glory be to God Almighty for the great success recorded at the recent Clergy Conference hosted by Niger Delta Province and the Diocese of Niger Delta North, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul Diobu, Port Harcourt. We are greatly indebted to the Planning Committee ably led by Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Sowale and the Local Planning Committee led by Archbishop Blessing Enyinda and all our Resource Persons. We thank all our Archbishops and Bishops for supporting our Clergy to be at the Conference, some were unable to attend due the security situation in the country and funds. But our joy is that many were able to join by Zoom. The Theme of the Conference “Effective Anglican Ministry in the 21st Century” [1Timothy 4:] is very apt. it was impactful and we continue to pray that God will bless all Clergy of the Church of Nigeria and make you all effective Ministers of the Gospel in these challenging times. This Church shall continue to grow and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against us.
MISSION TO MEN THROUGH THE CHRISTIAN MEN’S FELLOWSHIP: Men and Fathers are very important for the over-all Ministry of the Church. They play a very pivotal role in the Family, Church and Society. They are Covenant Connectors, Bearers of Generational blessings and builders of homes, Church and Society. They are the Priests of their homes and determine the future of their families. Therefore, we are refocusing on Mission and Ministry to and with the Men in the Church of Nigeria. To this end we have appointed Archbishop Cyril Odutemu, the Archbishop of Bendel Province to be our National Co-ordinator for the Christian Men’s fellowship. We have held Zonal Strategic training and consultation for the leaders. A National Vision and Mission have been crafted for the Men’s Ministry, and the Bye-Laws and Constitution are ready. The National Convention for all Men of this Church will be held in the cathedral Church of St. James the Great, Ibadan from Wednesday September 29th to Saturday October 2nd 2021. We hope that the Men’s Ministry will be more vibrant than the Women Ministry. We plead with all our Archbishops, Bishops and members to support the Men and fathers of this Church. This Family Focus will rebuild our family lives and restore the Family Altar and nurturing of our Children in Faith and grow the Church. When men arise the Society will be rebuilt.
The DIVINE COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE (DIVCCON): has continued to be a source of spiritual renewal and blessing to members of this Church and beyond. We are indeed very grateful to Archbishop Tunde Adeleye and his Team for their sacrifice and trusted leadership. The last edition was a great success in spite of the challenges of COVID-19. The registration for this year’s Conference has started and will hold in Abuja at the National Christian Centre from Monday 8th to Friday 12th of November 2021. We request every Diocese to mobilize our members for this Whole-Church conference.
THE ANGLICAN COMPASSION AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE [ACADI]: The Church of Nigeria is a caring Church and engage in wholistic Ministry. In order to build up our capacity to engage the communities and respond to the social and heart felt needs of the people among whom we serve, we have established a Faith Based Organization which has been registered with the Corporate Affiars Commisssion as “ACADI”. We are greatly indebted to Prof. Adesegun Fatusi and his Team for their efforts in giving direction to this work of the Church. We have also assigned an office space to them in Abuja. ACADI with work with all our Dioceses to establish their Diocesan Faith Based Organization and co-ordinate their operations. The launching of the War Against Drug Abuse and Addiction is scheduled for Tuesday 21st September 2021 will be anchored by the ACADI and they will help in driving its implementation.
CHURCH INVESTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS:
THE CSS COMPANIES: On 19th April 2021, we had a meeting with the Chairman and some members of the Board and Management of the CSS Companies at Ikeja. We had a very good and fruitful interaction and received the report of their operations.
To follow up on the meeting and seek for ways to reposition the CSS Companies we set a Taskforce as follows:
- Mazi sam Ohuabunwa = Chairman.
- Toyin Okeowo = Deputy Chairman.
- Lady Priscilla Eleje = Member
- Chudi Illoh = Member
- Olumide Philips = Member.
- Yusufu Pam = Member.
- Sir Stanley Amuchie = Member
- The Rt. Rev. Timothy Yahaya = Member
- The Rt. Rev. Chidi Oparaojiaku = Member
- Engr. Ihekwumere Azuwuike = Member.
- Chief Abiodun Asiwaju = Member
- Sir Gershon Amaewuhule = Member
- The Ven. Dalimore Odigie = Member
They were inaugurated on 29th July 2021. They will submit their interim report on 29th October 2021. We hope that their work will be a guide to reposition the CSS Companies for profitability and greater future.
THE ADVENT CABLE NETWORK NIGERIA [ACNN]: We must commend the ACNN Board and Management for their labour of love which has improved their operations and services. The Television Station is serving this Church very creditably. We thank Chief Folu Olamiti and Engr. Korede, the General Manager. We have acquired new equipment and made a lot of improvement in the programmes and their impact in the Church and the Society. ACNN is working to have a slot on the DSTV Platform. We thank the Rt. Rev. Olumakaiye for the efforts he is making in this direction. We shall soon be opening Zonal Offices and currently contacts and plans are on in the desired places. ACNN needs the support and patronage of all our Dioceses and Ecclesiastical Provinces.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH APP: The ICT Unit working on the APP will present it in this Standing Committee meeting and hopefully launch it for individual subscription and usage during DIVCCON in November, 2021. All our future proceedings and Conference registration shall be available through the APP in the future. It will serve as our communication platform for the Church of Nigeria. We encourage all our Dioceses and members to register and use this App as soon as it is launched.
ECUMENICAL RELATIONS: The Ecumenical Relations of our Church is not as it should be. We have put in place a Team of our Leaders to review and suggest ways of improving on our Ecumenical Relations so as to make this beneficial to the Church of God in Nigeria. We have written to the Methodist Church Nigeria requesting that we establish an Anglican-Methodist Commission so as to attend to issues of Mission and Ministry and improve on our Ecumenical relations. The relationship and partnership with the Methodist Church dates back to the very beginning of the work of CMS in 1842 in Badagry. We own some Institutions together and these have served both Churches. We are still waiting for their response. The CCN, CAN and other bodies are doing well and the Anglican Communion actively participates in all thier Ecumenical bodies.
[A] CHURCH OF NIGERIA MORTGAGE BANK: We must commend the efforts of some of our Dioceses in providing Micro Finance Bank services to our members. The drive for better economic and financial inclusion and provision for our members must be encouraged. One considers that in a developing economy like ours in Nigeria, the Church has a great role to play in empowering our members economically. Again considering the enormous human, material and financial resources we are blessed with as Anglicans, there is need to harness these for the benefit of the Church, our members and Nation. To this end we propose the establishment of the “Commonwealth Mortgage Bank” as a Banking and Commerce outfit of the Church. The Mortgage Bank will help our members tap into the mortgage and real estate development which is one of the viable industries in the Nigerian economy.
[B] CHURCH OF NIGERIA CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE TASK FORCE: The Church of Nigeria will continue to contend for the Faith which was once and for all delivered to the Saints. Some recent developments in our Nation necessitates that we must take certain steps in order to maintain the tenets of the Christian Faith and the teachings of the Bible. The politicization of Christian pilgrimage, the subtle attempt to change the National Curriculum of Education from the Primary to Secondary schools which would have affected the teaching of the Christian Faith and Bible in our public schools, the most recent change in the destination of the National Christian Pilgrimage from being a pilgrim to Israel, Jerusalem and other holy sites in Israel to now a tourism to Jordan a Muslim country. This recent development and the disparity in the exchange rates given to those who desire to go to Israel has become a matter of concern. This subtle change may totally undermine our true understanding of our faith and erode the benefits of Christian pilgrimage. We call on the Christian Association of Nigeria to resist this new development. So long as the Muslims are allowed to go to Mecca and Medina for their pilgrimage, the change of the destination of Christian pilgrimage is a fundamental one and if allowed will be a compromise of the true Teachings of the Bible. For this reason, we hereby constitute the CON Christian Pilgrimage Taskforce to: [a] Explore the possibility and viability of having a very functional Body to organize and take all Christian Faithful to Israel for Christian Pilgrimage. [b] Enlighten and mobilize Christians on the importance and place of Holy pilgrimages for Christians, [c] Put in place, in consultation with other Christian Church Bodies and organizations [within and outside Nigeria] effective and functional Pilgrimage for Christians in Nigeria and beyond. [d] Propose a Three-Year pilgrimage plan for members of the Church of Nigeria and other interested Christians. The Taskforce shall be as follows:
- Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Odutemu = Chairman.
- Most Rev. Markus Ibrahim = Deputy Chairman
- Rev. Dr. Godfrey Ukanwa = Deputy Chairman
- Rev. Dr. Ogunbanwo. = Deputy Chairman
- Provincial Representatives [One Clergy, One Lay]
- Joshua Lambert = Secretary and Desk Officer Primate’s Office.
CHURCH OF NIGERIA COMMITMENTS TO GLOBAL MISSION:
- MATTHIAS COLLECTIONS: The Church of Nigeria collection to support our Dioceses and Institutions shall be done on Sunday 27th February, 2022. We are very thankful to all our Archbishops and Bishops for mobilizing our members for the 2021 collection. We received a total of One Hundred and Seventy-Six , Eight Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand and Two Naira (N 176,843,002) The list of our contributions are in the Appendix.
ADVENT COLLECTIONS: The Advent collection is taken on the Advent Sunday. The National Church collection is meant to fund the Capital Projects of the Church of Nigeria. We appreciate all the support and contributions made by our members and Dioceses. The sum of One Hundred and Fifty-One million, One Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand Five Hundred and Eighty Naira Only (N151,143,580) was received in 2020 and it is designated for the development of the Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther Mission Centre, Osoogun. The performance of every Diocese is in the Appendix. This year’s Advent collection will be on Sunday 28th November 2021. It will be designated for the development of the Conference Centre at the Anglican University of Technology, Kwaita Abuja. May God richly bless and reward every Diocese and bless the work of His Church.
THE GAFCON MOVEMENT: The Church of Nigeria is a founding member of the GAFCON Family, a movement of the faithful members of the Anglican Dioceses and Provinces who have chosen to remain faithful to God, His Word and live out their faith in faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and maintain the Orthodox faith and our time tested Anglican Heritage. The COVID-19 Pandemic affected most of GAFCON Countries and so affected the life and work of the Church. We appreciate God, who in His faithfulness has preserved our lives. We thank the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, the Chairman of GAFCON for giving very courageous leadership to GAFCON. The GAFCON meetings have been done virtually through via Zoom. The proposed Conference for 2020 in Kigali could not hold. The GAFCON Primates were able to meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th September 2021. It was indeed a reunion of the GAFCON Family and God was mightily present to guide and bless us. Many of the Provinces are still facing great health challenges and still under restrictions. GAFCON is making great progress in the UK and Europe. We thank God for Bishop Andy Lines and his Team for holding forth the frontiers of Mission in UK/Europe. We stand with the new Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and pray for God’s leading for the Church of God. More so we thank God for the healing and deliverance He performed in life of Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, the General Secretary of GAFCON. Glory be to God Almighty.
The Church of Nigeria will continue to play a key role in supporting and sustaining the operations of GAFCON. We have financial responsibility to GAFCON such that apart from our annual contribution, we like other GAFCON Provinces and Dioceses need to take a special collection for the support of the work and Missions, of GAFCON and remit such to the National Church. The collection and remittance for 2021 have not been very encouraging due to the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We plead with all our fathers in God to remit whatever you have collected so that remittance can be made to the GAFCON office.
CREATION OF DIOCESES: During the General Synod we placed a Moratorium on the creation of Dioceses whether Full-fledged or Missionary Dioceses. This will be reviewed by the next General Synod. We shall put in place a Committee to set the Modalities and requirements for the creation of Dioceses. The Committee will submit its report in the next September Standing Committee meeting so that the guidelines will be clearly spelt out. The Committee will be as follow:
- Rev. Dr. Joseph Akinfenwa
- The Most Rev. Daniel Yisa
- The Most Rev. Dr. David Onuoha.
OUR GRATITUDE: We owe our lives to the Almighty God for His protection over us in the COVID-19 Pandemic, even though it is not yet over but we trust God to keep us safe to the end. We thank all our Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy and their wives for their sacrifice in the service of God, the Church and Humanity. May God bless and renew your strength continually. We are grateful to the Laity and the Women, Youth and Children Ministries and all the Organizations of the Church, God will remember and reward you now and in eternity. We thank the Bishop and Mama Humphrey Olumakaiye and the Diocese of Lagos for hosting this Standing Committee. God will reward our members and bless Lagos Diocese continually. We are amazed at what you are doing in the building of the Centenary City. Your hand has laid the foundation and your hand will put the capstone.
On behalf of the Church of Nigeria we express our profound gratitude to the Most Rev. Dr. Ephraim and Mama Ademowo for the bold and godly leadership you sacrificially gave to the Church of God. Your legacies will be sustained and in your retirement you will enjoy robust health and God will renew your strength daily. We thank all our retired Fathers in faith and assure you of our prayers and support. Even in your old age you will enjoy God’s presence and you will still be fruitful and relevant to the Church of God. We appreciate all our Committees and Task forces for your labour of love for the Church of God.
OUR SORROW: We commiserate with all who lost their dear ones. In the period under review we lost some fathers in God namely, the late Bishop Augustine Omole of the Diocese of Sokoto, and the following retired Fathers in God, Archbishop Caleb Maduoma [former Bishop of Ideator and Owerri Province], Bishop [Lt. Col] Titus Ogbonyomi [Diocese of Northern Nigeria, Kaduna and Abuja], Bishop J.F.E Edewor [Diocese of Oleh]; Bishop Awosan. Some of our Bishops lost their family members such as Rt. Rev. F.I. Olugbemi who lost his mother, Primate Ndukuba,who lost his mother, the late Mama Selina Ndukuba; the Dean Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev Buba Lamido lost his brother, the late Mr. Buba Ali. Some of our Diocesan officials were called to rest. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace and rise in glory at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
OUR JOY: We rejoice with the newly consecrated Bishops and their families and pray God to guide and bless your ministry in the Church of God. We congratulate all those blessed with marriages, child birth, graduations, employment, promotions and happy retirement. Your joys and testimonies shall abide and God will bless you immensely.
2022 to 2023 Standing Committee Meetings: The Diocese of Evo will host us Monday 21st to Friday 25th February, 2022. We shall go to the Diocese of Jos [tentatively] Monday 19th to Thursday 23rd September 2022. The Diocese of Nnewi will host us Monday 13th to Friday 17th February 2023 and the Diocese of Kubwa will host us from Monday 18th to Friday 22nd 2023.
IN CONCLUSION: The rising extremist and fundamental Islam that destroys everything in its path, and especially targeting Christians and Muslims who will not support them is very worrisome. The revival of our African obnoxious cultural practices is as a big threat to the Christian Faith as well as the Islamization that is going on in our country today. The invasion of our educational Institutions by occultism, bandits and popular culture and unwholesome influences of the western world are great threats to the future of our children, the Church and the Ministry.
The bane of the Church of our time is a loud profession of the faith that is devoid of the integrity and character of God. Much noise with not much fruit. Indeed, we see what Paul said of the perilous time in 2 Timothy 3:1-10. Some people have the form of religiosity but deny the power of God, nor allow themselves to be changed by the Faith of Christ. The consequence of all these is instability and ineffectiveness in people’s lives. In considering the fact of God’s eternal plan and the great expectation of the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the question is “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8b].
We may have taken many things for granted while the path to moral and spiritual rectitude looks simple but it carries the power that transforms. When Jesus said we should abide in Him and He in us, and abide in His Word. He declares that without Him we can accomplish nothing. That is God’s way. The presence of God, His consciousness and the Word of God have the capacity to challenge and correct our perceptions when we truly submit to the Living God.
The capacity of the Believers to be focused, resist the wiles of the world and the devil, and bear fruit that God desires in His Kingdom, is only found in Jesus Christ. The fact that God has grafted us into Christ, and has shown us mercy and favour, that out of nothing He has elevated and blessed us. God has given us positions of responsibilities in Family, Church and Nation, in industry and commerce and positions of influence. We should not take lightly what God has done and given us in Jesus Christ. We must not joke with our salvation and the responsibility that God has given us. If God did not spare the Angels, the generation of Noah, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, then surely God will judge us and our generation. God wants us to shine as light and be the salt of our decaying society and the only way to do so is by abiding in Christ and the Word of God, and serve God in Worship and Witnessing to God’s love. The Fruit He desires of us is the Fruit of Repentance, Christ-like Character, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Fruit and Harvest of Soul winning and Mission. The LORD of Glory says “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For the branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the Vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me…. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father”. To the only Wise and Eternal God, be Glory, Dominion and Excellence, now and forever. AMEN.
“I COULD NOT DO WITHOUT THEE…”
YOUR BROTHER AND FELLOW-BRANCH IN THE TRUE VINE;
 Psalm 27:1-2 NKJV
 The debt-to-GDP ratio is the ratio of a country’s public debt to its gross domestic product (GDP)The higher the debt to GDP ratio the less likely the country will pay back its debt and the higher the risk that the country would default which would cause financial panic in the domestic and international markets. PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before 3. Debt to GDP: 2019 = 29.17%, 2020 = 35.05%, 2021 = 31.94% (SOURCE: GOOGLE SEARCH)
 John 15:1.
 1 Chronicles 29:11-12.
 John 4:10.
 Isaiah 51:1
 John 15:4-5.
 Church of Nigeria Book of Common Prayer (BCP) 39 Articles of Religion: Article 21: Of the Authority of General Councils.
 Chad Brand, Holman illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Holman Bible Publishers 1998) 1651.
 Douglas, J.D. New Bible Dictionary (2nd Edition) (Leicester: Inter-Versity Press, 1962),1651.
 Genesis 14:18.
 Numbers 13:20
 Numbers 13:23.
 Ibid., 1237.
 Genesis 49:8-12.
 Psalm 80:8-12.
 Ezekiel 5:4.
 Matthews 20:16.
 Vines; An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers,1996) 2.
 John 11:49.
 Vines: An Expository., 685.
 Ibid., 2.
 1Corinthians 2:20.
 Luke 16:34.
 1 John 2;15-17.
 2Corinthians 4:2.
 James 3:13-18.
 James 4:8.
 Romans 12:2.
 Ancient and Modern 353.
 Psalm 14:1; 53:1.
 John 6:63.
 Roman 8:29.
 Ephesians 5:25-26.
 Mark 3:14.
 1Corinthians 2:13- 16.
 Isaiah 35.
 Ezekiel 12, Revelations 22:1-2.
 Psalm 16:11
 John 17: 21.
 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
 John 12: 26.
 John 17:24.
 Phillippians 3:17-19
 John 1:41-42a.
 Romans 9:4-5.
 Romans 9:25; Hosea2:23.
 Romans 11:15.
 Romans 11: 17-18.
 Romans 1119-23.
 John 4:34-38.
 Revelations. 14:18-20.
 Revelation 21:8.
 Mark 8:36
 Ephesians 4:14
 Philippians 1:29.
 Romans 8:1.
 John 15:4,8.