Take current role as a challenge, not achievement, Sanwo-Olu, Ndukuba, Akinfenwa tell new Bishops
• Okupevi’s consecration great honour for the Diocese, Lagos and Egun people — Sanwo-Olu
One of the significant events in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) was the consecration of four Bishops, last Sunday, at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral Diocese of Lagos West. The church made history by consecrating for the first time, an indigene of Lagos, precisely from the Egun ethnic group, as Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos.
The event drew a cream of church leaders from within and outside the country, government officials, captains of industry and well placed individuals.
The consecration of the 55-year-old Rt. Rev’d Ifedola Senasu Gabriel Okupevi as the 9th Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos was greatly celebrated. Among the newly consecrated Bishops were Rt. Rev’d Collins Olufemi Babalola for Diocese of Ajayi Crowther; Rt. Rev’d Festus Uzorka Nwafili for Diocese of Ndokwa, and Rt. Rev’d Ebenezer O. Saiki for Diocese of Akoko-Edo.
The church also presented Most Rev’d Blessing C. Enyindah as its new Dean and two Archbishops —Most Rev’d Michael Fape as Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos and Most Rev’d Timothy Yahaya as Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu in his goodwill message described Okupevi’s consecration as a great honour, not only for the Diocese and the good people of Lagos, but for the Egun people of Lagos, noting that for the first time a son of the soil has become a Bishop in the Anglican Communion.
He said: “It is a great joy, indeed, for the entire Diocese and the good people of Lagos, most especially, the Egun people of Lagos for having their son for the first time become a Bishop in the Anglican Communion.”
He urged the new Bishop of Lagos to uphold and promote the mission and vision of the Diocese. The governor said Okupevi’s consecration is a testament of many years of service to the church and his community, imploring him to continue to be a shining light to the Diocese and also to contribute his quota to its growth.
“To be consecrated is a critical component in our relationship with God and with those in the world. A consecrated life is one that is set apart and totally sold out to the service of God. It involves deploying one’s time, talents and forgoing worldly possessions for the cause of the church and to further the Lord’s interest on earth. Given your antecedents and faithful commitment to the service of God and his church, I have no doubt in my mind that you would make a positive impact in upholding and promoting the mission and vision of the Diocese. Your consecration, today, is a testament of your many years of service to the church and your community and I pray that you will continue to be a shining light to the Diocese and contribute your quota to its growth,” he said.
Remembering the home call of the immediate past Bishop of Lagos and Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos, Most Rev’d Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye, who passed on last year, Sanwo-Olu said: “It is of great importance that we remember our adoration and missioner, Most Rev’d Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye. May his gentle soul rest in peace.”
He enjoined the new Bishop to remember the importance of love, compassion and justice that the church is known for, which will always help in the administration and building of better future for Lagos.
He noted: “Let us renew our commitment and dedication to the kingdom service by being a good example for others to emulate. I wish to assure the new Bishop of the support of our administration, especially in the area of promoting mutual understanding and respect among the various religious adherents in Lagos State. Lagos is well known for religious tolerance and harmony. I will continue to sustain this atmosphere for inclusive growth and development in line with the goals and objectives of our administration’s development agenda.
“I congratulate all the Bishops once again on this day of their consecration, I wish them a fruitful reign and peaceful administration of their See. May your reign be peaceful, full of progress and great achievements. Your household will enjoy the favour of God and your hearts desires shall be met. Let me appreciate the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Primate, all the Bishops, especially the Bishop of Lagos West and the Supervising Bishop of Lagos, Rt. Rev’d James Olusola Odedeji for their doggedness and unrelenting spirit in administrating their own seat and See. The Lagos Diocese has, indeed, made history today. May the joy of today’s celebration usher in unprecedented progress and development for the church, our state and the nation.”
The first Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Rev’d Joseph Akinfenwa, in his sermon, berated political officeholders for not living up to their expectations. He noted that they are the cause of the pains Nigerians are experiencing today.
Calling on the new Bishops and those who were presented by the Church of Nigeria to see themselves as the beacon of hope for the downtrodden, the Archbishop said:“When people are pushed to tears, it is the clergymen and their wives that will offer their shoulders for them to lean on.”
Praying for the Bishops, Akinfenwa said: “Today is a day of joy for us in the Church of Nigeria, we are presenting new crops of leaders at various strata of leadership of the church. There must be some special nostalgia for the 55-year-old Bishop Ifedola who was ordained a Deacon in 1988 and now 35 years in the Lord’s service, to be consecrated a Bishop. It is, indeed, something that should invoke deep feelings as we return to this Bethel (Gen 28:16).
“At all times, we must remember that we are who we are only by the grace of God. It is God who has done it, not even the system or any man; so, we must return all glory and honour to Him. We must strive to please Him at all times. Brethren, our Lord Jesus told us of things that shall happen in the last days.”
He reminded the Bishops that there is rising intolerance for the truth of God’s word and, therefore, they should stand in the gap and preach the undiluted word of God to the world.
“We are presenting Archbishops, consecrating Bishops so that the gospel of the kingdom can be preached in all the world. We are doing so because any Christian institution that deserves to be relevant to God can only have one priority and that priority is missions, evangelism, soul winning… any church that wants to please the Lord and enjoy the best of His blessings must prioritise soul winning,” he stated.
Akinfenwa admonished the Bishops to see their consecration as a service to God and not as an achievement, adding that God’s interest is that sinners should not perish, but be saved, which is why God is recruiting people into His work.
“Sinners are souls to be won; so, there is work to be done. Since the announcement of your names, no doubt, you have been receiving congratulatory messages, please do not be deceived by those things, please do not be distracted; please look beyond the achievements and the merriments because there is a lot of work to be done. If you are made a Bishop, take it as a challenge and not an achievement; so, from today, erase that achievement from your heart. It is a challenge because you should see your call as a service and not a call to ‘come and chop.’ It is a call to serve your Lord and your Maker, not for enjoyment.”
Akinfenwa called on members of the church to cooperate with the new Bishops, pray for them and forget about what happened in the past.”
“Now, it is time to move forward. Whatever your title, whatever my title, whatever your position, we shall come before God and receive our due rewards from the righteous judge who cannot be bribed or what will be your reward and my reward, out of so many you have been chosen arise and shine thou light has come.”
Primate of the church, Most Rev’d Henry C. Ndukuba in his prayer for the Bishops said: “Collins, Festus, Ifedola, and Ebenezer, whom we ordain in your name, to share the ministry entrusted to your church. Almighty Father, fill them with the grace and power, which you gave to your apostles, that they may lead those committed to their charge in proclaiming the gospel of salvation. Through them increase the church, renew their ministries and unite members in a holy fellowship of truth and love and also enable them as true shepherds to feed and govern your flock. Make them wise teachers and steadfast as guardians of the faith and sacraments…”
Meanwhile, Okupevi has assured members that he would preach the undiluted word of God, expand God’s Kingdom and depopulate the kingdom of Satan.
He gave the assurance at his enthronement service, which held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos.
He said: “We will empower the evangelists, the youth as well as the aged; I shall continue where my predecessor stopped. We will continue with the building of the Centenary City, focus on our secondary school education and do our best to educate our youth and the children.”
Okupevi has promised to come up with charity programmes for the less privileged, to rehabilitate street urchins, set up entrepreneurial and vocational programmes to train the youth in various vocations including photography, arts and crafts, and bead-making among others, aside from boosting the capacity of small and medium enterprises.
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