|News - 2011|
MyDear People of God,
Praiseand thanks be to our Eternal God for sparing our lives to see this New Year2011. May His grace enable us to be fruitful as we serve Him in holiness andrighteousness all our days.
Theannual Bishops’ Retreat came up at our usual venue, Trinity Foundation’s RetreatCentre, Agbarha Otor from January 3-9, 2011 with a focus on the theme, A LIVINGSACRIFICE (Rom 12:1).
The theme was addressed in various ways,including a series of Bible studies led by our guest speaker, Rt Rev Dr ZacNiringiye from the Church of Uganda. There were also sermons, discussions andpresentations by other resource persons from our own Bishops of the Church ofNigeria. We re-examined our attitude as a church to the use of spiritual giftsfor the growth of God’s Church committed to our charge. We have found our timesof fellowship quite refreshing and soul searching as they have broughttreasured insights and reminders about the enormous challenges and dimensionsof our ministry as shepherd of God’s people. We have surrendered ourselvesafresh to excellence in this calling for which we have been consecrated.
We are thankful to the Ibru family fortheir continued hospitality during our times of retreat here.
We discussed and prayed about the recentbomb blasts in Jos and Abuja as well as the religious killings in Maiduguri –all at a time of celebration for the Christian world. We share the pains andheartbreak brought upon innocent citizens (including little children, pregnantwomen, people going about their legitimate pursuits) by sadists who chose thisbizarre medium of making whatever point they think they should make. We totallydenounce this, and have called on our national leadership to do everything toarrest this dangerous trend which is capable of blowing our nation apart. Whetherthese bombings are politically or religiously motivated, those behind themshould be dealt with under the appropriate laws: Ecclesiastes8:11,“Because sentence against an evil work is not executedspeedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to doevil”
We give thanks to God for the testimonies of growththrough the creation of the missionary dioceses. We thank God for those whomGod has used to support and sustain His work in these new frontiers. Yet we areconcerned about the missionary dioceses that are breaking new grounds and yetcannot afford the associated expenses to sustain the growth. This is why theStanding Committee of our Church decided at the September 2010 meeting in Lagos that we shouldhenceforth observe St Matthias’ Day (usually February 24, being the birthday ofthe Church of Nigeria) as a day to raise financial support for missionary dioceses. Aletter has gone out from the Primate’s Office that all offerings (tithes,Sunday Collection, offertory, churching, any special thanksgiving, building collection, orany other income under any description) taken on Sunday, February 27, 2011(being the Sunday nearest to St Matthias Day this year), be remitted to theChurch of Nigeria national headquarters (through the diocesan headquarters) forthe purpose of assisting the ongoing work of the missionary dioceses. If wefaithfully do this, we will indeed be able to conserve the great harvest the Lordis giving to us. We urge you to set aside generous offerings for this purpose.
Theregistration of voters is a critical stage in the march towards the nextpolitical dispensation. We strongly encourage our members to fulfil thisimportant civic responsibility as a first step of ensuring credible electionresults. We urge that earnest prayers should be made before the days ofelection and not so close to the election dates. We do not advise that vigilsprecede general election dates, as this will affect the involvement of thosewho have kept those prayer vigils. May the Lord be pleased to raise upGod-fearing leaders who will ensure peaceful atmosphere, social welfare,development, and above all, freedom of worship.
Weare glad to introduce the maiden edition of the Church of Nigeria devotional, The Daily Fountain and commend it foryour patronage. It is prepared with the Anglican Church in mind. The days inwhich we live are becoming more and more evil. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:12, “ Because of the increase ofwickedness, the love of most will grow cold” We must therefore heed ApostlePeter’s counsel in 1 Peter 4:7–8: “ Theend of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled sothat you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers overa multitude of sins.”
Tohim who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his gloriouspresence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory,majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages,now and forevermore! Amen.
Yoursin His Service,
The Most Rev Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop,Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria