PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT THE END OF ANNUAL 2009 BISHOP’S RETREAT

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA

(Anglican Communion)

THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, CON, DD.

Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.

PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT THE END OF ANNUAL BISHOP’S RETREAT

HELD AT THE IBRU CENTRE, AGBARHA-OTOR, DELTA STATE,

JANUARY 5-10, 2009

Beloved in the Lord, Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Annual Retreat of Bishops of our Church took place at the  Ibru Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State from Monday 5’1’ to Saturday 10’1’ January, 2009. It was a blessed time of waiting on the Lord as we explored the various aspects of the theme “Revive Thy work, O Lord” Habbakuk 12. We were amazed at the abundant spiritual harvest that resulted from this exercise and are  convinced that it will have a multiplication effect on our collective desire and quest on various levels of our church.

We are indeed grateful to God Almighty for reminding us that a true enduring revival is only possible through the inspired Word of God. This fact is made abundantly clear in passages such as Nehemiah 8 through 13. The blessings that come from Word-inspired revival touch every aspect of our lives as individuals in both our churches and society we urge you all to deepen your knowledge of the Word of God and determine to put into practice all that is written in it as therein lies key to any genuine and lasting revival.. We must beware of those who have reduced revival to mere emotionalism that produces an “Andrews Liver Salt” type of experience.

Again, we were reminded that healing, deliverance and exorcism are recognized by both the Holy Scriptures and Anglican theology and practice. When these are carried out according to biblical principles and standards, the result is joy and peace. But when the process is manipulated for whatever reason it further compounds the problems of the victims”. While encouraging you to join your bishops to bring these often-neglected practices to the “front burner” of the ministry of the Church, we strongly urge that you should avoid patronizing “prayer contractors” and “occult masters” whenever you have any spiritual problem as this could worsen your situation.

We are aware of the activities of one self-appointed “Bishop” Maxvirgin Iheanacho, a dismissal priest of Orlu Diocese, who now promotes an organization called “Gospel Anglican Church”. Please be informed that he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). Do not allow him to deceive you.

My dear people of God, we have observed with dismay the attitude of many of our young people who choose recreation, such as playing football on Sundays, instead of worshipping God. More worrisome is the fact that this often takes place in the shadow of places of worship. We are also disturbed by the rate at which secularism is spread in our society. It is our resolve to address this issue and explore ways of assisting our youth to invest their time, talent and energy wisely and meaningfully in the things of God so as to draw from His abundant resources into old age. The next meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, which will take place in the Diocese of Ife from March 11-14, is dedicated to issues affecting our youth. While urging you to pray fervently for a clear vision from God on the way forward, we remind our young people of the Biblical truth that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”.

We will always thank God for our prayers and support during the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem in June 2008. The success of that historic gathering is a clear indication that God endorsed it and we know that future generations of Christians throughout the world will benefit from it. We implore you to carefully study the Jerusalem Declaration and ensure that it nourishes your faith.

We request that you also pray fervently that the attempt by the leaders of our Communion to build bridges of peace and understanding will be based on Biblical principles of repentance, confessing and reconciliation.

You may have heard that two of our brother bishops, the Rt Revd. Simon Bala of the Diocese of Kubwa, and the Rt. Revd. John Ezirim of the Diocese of Abab-Ngwa North joined the church triumphant last year. While thanking God for their lives and service to the Church militant we urge you to bear their families up in prayer for God’s grace and favour.

Our condolences go to victims of the recent uprisings in Jos, Pleateu State, and pray that God will hasten the time when all in every part of the nation shall dwell in peace and safety.

Finally, we are very much encouraged by the massive support the House of Bishops receive from our faithful and committed brothers and sisters of our Church as we labour in the Lord’s vineyard. Please help us pray for Dr. Goodie Ibru who has taken it upon himself to cater every year as we gather in Retreat. May this act of his always ascend to the throne of Grace as a sweet smelling sacrifice that will attract God’s blessing to him and his household.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola

Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria