THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA
THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, CON, DD.
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ANNUAL BISHOPS’ RETREAT HELD
AT THE IBRU CENTRE, AGBARHA-OTOR, DELTA STATE
JANUARY 5-10, 2009
The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria, met for our annual retreat at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, from January 5-10, 2009. One hundred and forty bishops were present. We were also joined by thirteen bishops-elect who were to be consecrated at the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Ughelli at the conclusion of the Retreat on Sunday, January 11th. The theme of our retreat was “Revive Thy Work, O Lord” (Habakkuk 12:1) at the conclusion the House of Bishops issued this communiqué.
- SPIRITUAL REVIVAL
- We are living at a time when we desperately need a revival of the power of God in our churches and society. The morning Bible studies inspiringly led by Bishop Emmanuel Egbunu, the various teachings, and the opening presentation by the Primate entitled “Word inspired revival based on an exposition of Nehemiah 8 through 13, all emphasized that the unfettered proclamation of the Word of God is at the heart of any significant Spiritual revival. We therefore call on all the people of God to return to the Holy Scriptures as the source of their own personal revival.
- We rejoice at the inspiring testimonies of those among us who are serving in missionary diocese in parts of the country where the resources are limited but the needs are very great. At the 2008 Conference for Bishops of Missionary Dioceses held at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral Church, Ikeja, Lagos State, it was reported that as a direct result of this missionary endeavour, and the spirit inspired preaching of the Word of God, two hundred and eighty seven (287) congregations have been established in the past twelve months.
- NATIONAL CONCERNS
- We are grieved by the recent uprisings in Jos that led to a number of churches, commercial buildings, and homes being destroyed and more than five hundred people, including members of the National Youth Service Corps, loosing their lives. What was originally reported as a political conflict has now been shown to be the work of organized agitators determined to undermine the fragile peace that we had all worked hard to establish. We call on the governments, local, state and federal, to spare no effort to expose those who are behind these agitators and bring them to justice for the death and destruction that they have caused.
- We believe that there is a disturbing lack of reciprocity with regard to the establishment of and support for Christian institutions in predominantly Moslem areas. While there are no obstacles to building mosques and Islamic schools in areas that are predominantly Christian; building permits are denied churches and Christian schools in Moslem majority areas. We call on the governments, local, state and federal, to ensure that Nigeria stays true to its constitutional obligations of freedom of religion throughout the entire nation since we believe that failure to do this will be a continuing source of friction.
- The House of Bishops welcomes the reconstitution of the Federal Executive Council by His Excellency – President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. We hope that the appointed ministers will adhere to exacting standards of performance and to the specified parameters of their assignments to justify this restructuring. We are also aware that the Federal and State Governments are currently undergoing the annual, cycle of budget defense by Ministries and Parastatals. We are concerned that this will not be an empty ritual but that there will be strict accountability and demonstrated transparency in the stewardship of the resources of our Nation.
- YOUTH DISCIPLESHIP
- Having regard for the alarming growth of secularism, new age movements and militant atheism in western Society, and its growing impact on the youth of our own culture we call for a renewed emphasis on the discipleship of our young people. The Sunday school movement has lost its place in many Western Churches with the result that the youth are defenseless against the false gospels propagated by the media. We believe that there is an urgent need to equip Sunday School teachers and youth workers with creative, well designed programmes if we are to avoid a similar fate with our own young people who will be “sheep without a shepherd” if we fail to respond. The House of Bishops enthusiastically embraced the Primate’s call for a special emphasis on this vital issue at the Cathedral Church of St. Philip Aiyetoro, Ile-Ife, Osun State from March 11-14, 2009.
- We are convinced that Bible-centered discipleship is not only essential for our youth but it is vital for every Christian if we are to be the salt and light that our society urgently needs. It is only through the careful study of the Word of God that we can discover the resources necessary for the victorious Christian life. We urge all clergy and congregations to renew their commitment to personal Bible Study. We also call on each congregation to establish a healing ministry as a central element of their common life and ministry to the community.
- GLOBAL CONCERNS
- As a result of a presentation of a mission survey in the Sudan we were humbled by the remarkable faith of the bishops, clergy and congregations in a country that has been devastated by war for more than two decades. We embraced the primate’s call for a continuing Sudan Mission Initiative and as initial steps appointed the Dean, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, as the interim Sudan Mission Coordinator to work with the leadership of the Church of the Sudan so that we might discern together the next steps for this partnership. We resolved to continue the work of the Church of Nigeria Mission Society locally and in the francophone countries of West Africa including Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivore, Chad, Niger, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, Mali and Togo and individual diocese are urged to take an active role in specific projects.
- Following the primate’s report on the meeting of the GAFCON Primates Council with the archbishop of Canterbury, the House of Bishops, while expressing support for this effort to build bridges, stressed that in any effort to bring restoration to the Communion there can be no compromise on the need for genuine repentance by those who have walked away from the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’. We are, however, delighted by the continuing fruit of GAFCON, the developing Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans around the world, the work of the GAFCON Primates Council and the emerging Anglican Church in North America.
- The House of Bishops continues to pray for those countries that face the agony of armed conflict and are especially grieved by the current hostilities in the Holy Land where we all so richly blessed during our recent pilgrimage. We urge all concerned to seek an immediate lasting true and redouble their efforts towards a just peace for all inhabitants. Mindful of the enormous expectations already placed upon him we also prayed for the inauguration of Barak Obama as the next president of the United States. We assure him of our continuous prayers and remind him that only by holding fast to the teaching of the Bible will he be able to fulfill his mandate.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only, God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
The Most Rev. Peter Akinola,
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Church of All Nigeria