Reverend Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi: An Anglican priest without guile
The Church of Nigeria has indeed enjoyed unalloyed fellowship and leadership of distinguishable and irredentist apostles since its inception, from Henry Townsend, who in 1842 led the Church Missionary Society to sow the seed of Anglicanism in Nigeria. This was followed in 1846, by the Great Rev. Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who with the efforts and support of the pioneer Rev. of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Rev. Henry Townsend, Rev. Colmer and Rev. Phillips worked together to consolidate the CMS Missions across Nigeria. These apostolic geniuses laid the solid foundation on which the church today stands, especially among the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria. Through their efforts, the Anglican Church secured its base in Lagos and the Lagos church became a Diocese on December 10, 1919, with F. Melville Jones as Bishop and Isaac Oluwole, Assistant Bishop. Rev. Leslie Gordon Vining succeeded Jones as Bishop of Lagos in 1940, and thus the Anglican Church in Nigeria begun a new life of training and impacting the young and ebullient faithful, many of whom have continued to fly the flag of the gospel of Anglicanism.
In fact, before Rev. Vining’s death in 1955, he had trained scores of young enthusiast and dynamic Anglicans to continue with the propagation of Anglicanism as a priest. Rev. Vining’s efforts and training of young dynamic priests led missionary outbursts that later culminated in the Dioceses of Ibadan on January 25, 1952. This was before Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi was born on May 18, 1967, to the family of Elder Phillips Moses Abiola and Deaconess Phillips Alice Aweni of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, Papa Ajao Assembly, Mushin, Lagos. He grew under the tutelage of his parents in Mushin and later Olude area -Iyana Ipaja from where he joined the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University to read Statistics. While at the university, he was led to Miss Oluwaseun Foluso Osunade, the daughter of an Anglican priest, who later introduced him to the Anglican fellowship. Since then, he has never looked back in serving the Saviour Jesus Christ. Having graduated in 1999, he worked briefly in Banjul, The Gambia and Nigeria. He later joined the Immanuel College of Theology, Samonda Ibadan in 2005 and obtained a Diploma in theology at the popular Anglican seminary in 2007. He was subsequently Canonically Ordained a Deacon of the Anglican Communion by The Lord Bishop of Ogbomoso Diocese, The Rt. Rev. Ademoyegun Adewole Matthew Osunade in 2007, as Deacon of the Anglican communion at the Cathedral of St. David, Agboin-Ogbomoso and was relocated to the Ibadan Diocese under the lordship of The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Olatunji Akinfenwa, where he served at the St. Peters Anglican Church, Apete from July 1, 2007 to July 5, 2008.
He became a priest on July 6, 2008, and was transferred to the Bishop Adeniyi Memorial Anglican Church, Coca-Cola, Mokola, Ibadan, where he served faithfully (July 1, 2008 – July 28, 2015), until he was transferred to the Anglican Church of Resurrection, Harmony Estate, Ibadan. His contribution to the three churches, where he had served will forever be remembered. He was indeed an African priest without guile, because he would never compromise the word of God under any circumstances.
Rev. Phillips, Emmanuel Adeyemi’s activities in God’s Vineyard was indeed spurred by the unalloyed loyalty and commitments of his mentors and leaders in the Anglican communion including The Most Rev. Dr. J. O. Akinfenwa, Lord Bishop of Ibadan, Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. Ademoyegun Adewole Matthew Osunade (Rtd), formerly, Lord Bishop of Ogbomoso Diocese; Rt. Rev. Dr Ayo Awosoga, Rt. Rev. Jacob A. Ajetunmobi, Bishop of Ibadan, South Diocese, Rt. Rev. James Akinola (rtd), formerly Lord Bishop of Igbomina West Diocese, Rt. Rev. T. O. B. Fajemirokun (rtd), formerly the Lord Bishop Bishop of Ijesa North Diocese, Rt. Rev.
Titus Olayinka, Lord Bishop Ogbomoso Diocese, Provost of St. James Cathedral, the Very Rev. Dr. D. Olasande Olagbaju, Venerable Colins Babalola and Venerable B. O. Babatunde Obaweya (All Souls’ Church, Bodija Ibadan), late Ven. Ibukun ‘Wale Falope and late Rev. Canon Babatunde Adeyeoluwa among other leaders whom he gladly refer to as his fathers’ in the Lord.
Evidently, the Anglican Church Nigeria today has indefatigable individuals and leaders following the steps of late Rt. Rev. Olufosoye, late Rt. Rev. J. Abiodun Adetiloye and Rt. Rev. G. I. O. Olajide, all of whom probably had their training under Rev. Vining. These leaders have continued to provide the necessary instruments as leaders, with examples of expanding the church through evangelism.
They have evangelised many rural communities probably more than any other orthodox Mission in Nigeria, such that the Archbishop of Canterbury proclaimed it “the fastest growing church in the Anglican Communion.” One single fact about these leaders is their unwavering love and passion for the work of God, through which they have also tutored and mentored young members of the communion like Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi. Though I am not an Anglican, but my relationship with the Anglicans, particularly with Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi keeps me wondering at the way most of the saints and souls within the Anglican Communion commit their resources to the service of God. I know many of them, including several Anglican Bishops, who have no roof over their heads, but would go miles borrowing for the church and making sure the church of God is befittingly good for God’s worship and service without minding their personal challenges. These are the feats, which, Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi has chosen as a non-stipendiary priest, rendering excellent services for God, even against all odds. To him, no-thing is impossible… nothing is lost or hard to do, when it comes to service in His sanctuary.
Like the Anglican Church pioneers in Nigeria, Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi hopes are fixed on the final glory with the Almighty; hence he embodied the attitude of the Apostle Paul by “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13-14). He has continued to press on, even in this austere and economic depression by trusting himself to the will of our Lord Jesus, while sacrificing his all for the sake of the Gospel. He has continued to work enthusiastically for the Lord, “knowing that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
He once told me “that working for God is our story, through which we enjoyed God’s promise as Christians… nothing you do for the Lord is useless…, nothing, and that, it starts as we follow Jesus together as a family, around the table, sharing a meal, singing, praying, interacting, remembering our history and imagining our future…
The foregoing are indeed the sterling qualities that set Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi apart in his 10 years service at the Anglican Church Nigeria and five decades of his existence in the world. He loves his neighbours, always ready to serve others, even at very inconvenient hours. But most importantly, his devotion to serving God in His vineyard is immeasurable. His house in Ibadan has remained a place of succour to friends and several people, who have the privilege of meeting him and like Father Abraham; he will always bless you anytime you come across him. This blessed soul needs to be celebrated, while with us so that others would emulate him by encouraging others in Christian service. Personally, I am grateful to Almighty God for allowing my life to cross paths with Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi. My life is enriched by the example of his priestly life, unabashed defence of truth and untiring dedication to the service of God. Maybe the best way to pay tribute to my friend is to use the words of Apostle Paul in Phil 1:21, which I believe portrays best the life and priesthood of Rev. Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi: “For me, to live is Christ”. I, therefore, say ride on in the service of our Most Dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as you celebrate your 10th anniversary on the pulpit and your golden jubilee birthday anniversary.
Kayode Onipede wrote this piece from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso.