UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF NIGERIA by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

 

PAPER DELIVERED AT THE ADO ODO/OTA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF NIGERIA (CCN) SEMIANR ON FRIDAY 5TH APRIL, 2019 AT ST. TIMOTHY’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, IDIROKO ROAD, SANGO OTA BY 12NOON.

TOPIC: UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF NIGERIA

The CCN is an offshoot of the World Council of Churches which is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES (WCC)

In the 1930s and ‘40s, as plans were being made for creation of the World Council of Churches, the majority of churches involved were based in Europe and North America. Representation of Churches by geographical regions arose from a vision of Christian unity that would no longer be held captive by “western parochialism” but provide a balance among churches of east and west, south and north. This balanced diversity was deemed essential to the catholicity, or universality, of the world-wide church.

The WCC has identified eight regions that complement one another in their partnership. Most of these regions have inaugurated autonomous regional ecumenical organizations (REOs) exhibiting their differences from one another in terms of history, membership, organizational structure and decision-making. Representatives of each region attempt to apply the goals of the global movement toward unity within those cultural contexts where their member churches live and bear witness. At the time of the foundation of the World Council of Churches in 1948 there were no regional ecumenical organizations yet. The first to come into being was the East Asia Christian Conference, in 1957. It was followed in 1959 by the Conference of European Church (CEC). At the early stage of this new development in the ecumenical movement, the leadership of the WCC voiced some concern that it would lead to fragmentation and weakening of the oneness of the movement. However, the creation of regionalized ecumenical instruments reflected the felt need of the churches for a place where they could deal with the specific issues of their region, and make their voice heard at the regional level. Regional ecumenical organizations also provide a context for the churches to express and celebrate their common regional identity, culturally, historically and politically.

In 1963, the African churches founded the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), and in 1966 the churches in the Pacific established the pacific Conference of Churches (PCC). The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) was formed in 1973. That same year the East Asia Christian Conference became the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). In 1974, the churches of the Middle East brought into being the Middle East Council of Churches  (MECC). And in 1982 the churches in Latin America created the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). The only region where there is no such body is North America.

Although the regional ecumenical organizations (REOs as they are being called) share a common identity and constitute a distinctive group within the one ecumenical movement,  they differ in approach, priorities, working style, and structure, according to the  particularities of each region. The different designations of “conference” and “council” also reflect nuances in their self-understanding. In two fo them, the Christian Conference of Asia and the pacific Conference of Churches, national councils of churches are full members along with the churches. The Caribbean Conference of Churches has category of associate membership for national councils of churches; the all Africa conference of Churches, the Conference of European churches and the Latin American Council of Churches have a similar associate status for councils and other organizations. The Middle East Council of Churches is shaped according to eth specific model of “families of Churches”.

In three of the regional bodies the Catholic Church is a full member: in the Caribbean Conference of Churches as founding member; in the pacific Conference of Churches since 1976 and 1991, and in the Middle East Council of Churches since 1990. The Christian Conference of Asia works closely with the Federation of Asian  Bishops’ Conferences, with which it has formed an Asian Ecumenical Committee. Similarly, the Conference of European Churches and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences cooperate in various programmes and have jointly organized European Ecumenical Assemblies. The Latin  American Council of Churches is in dialogue with the  Latin American Episcopal Conference.

In the early 1980s, the regional ecumenical organizations began to develop inter-regional cooperation. The general secretaries of the organizations started meeting regularly, to share information and discuss common concerns. The World Council of Churches joined this process. In 1992, the REOs and the WCC formulated and agreed on a set of “guiding principles for relationships and cooperation”. Since then, an “REOs and WCC General Secretaries Group” meets annually. It should be underlined that the regional ecumenical  organizations are entirely autonomous bodies, which in no way depend structurally or otherwise on the WCC. The WCC has formally acknowledged the REOs in its Rules as “essential partners in the ecumenical enterprise”. This partnership is reflected in the intensive programme cooperation between WCC teams and REOs, in a variety of ways, according to the nature of the programmes and regional proprieties.

The WCC 10th Assembly called the churches to join a pilgrims of justice and peace. This call sets the direction for the WCC in the coming years. All WCC programmes aim to support the member churches and ecumenical partners to journey together, promoting justice and peace in our world as an expression of faith in the Triune God.

Today the WCC focuses its work in three programs areas: Unity, Mission and Ecumenical Relations, Public Witness and Diakonia and Ecumenical Formation.

All programmes share a responsibility for strengthening relationships with member churches and ecumenical partners, spiritual life, youth engagement, inter-religious dialogue and cooperation and building a just community of women and men.

Nigeria is the most populous and largest oil-producing country of Africa. A former British colony, Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, as a federation. The federal system, imposed by the British, has been a source of conflict, the worst of which was the Biafra secession war from 1967-70, which took more than a million lives. Nigeria has gone through a succession of military and civilian regimes, marked by corruption, violence, and human  rights abuses. In 1999, elections brought back a more stable government, Economically, Nigeria has remained a poor country. The oil revenues only benefit the ruling minority. The WCC has supported the Ogoni people in their struggle against the oil companies. The north  of Nigeria is predominantly Muslim, the south Christian. Violence between Muslims and Christians has occurred frequently, especially in the northern states which have established Sharia’h law, but also in the south. Besides the large mission-founded churches such as the Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, etc. Nigeria has a large number of African Instituted, independent, and Pentecostal churches, which are very active in evangelism and church panting in neighbouring countries, in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. The churches are organized into five distinct groups namely the catholic churches; the Evangelical church of West Africa (TEKAN/ECWA); and the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, who make up the membership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella body representing all Christians.

An international ecumenical team of church representatives, so called “Living letters”, paid a solidarity visit to churches and ecumenical organizations in Nigeria from 15 to 20 May 2010.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF NIGERIA (CCN)

The Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) came into existence in November 1929 with the effort of missionaries. It began in the south as a result of an informal meeting of a small group of missionaries who then met in Ibadan to discuss the line of action concerning the new Educational law instituted to separate religion from education. The meeting brought together mainland protestant Churches. It also made efforts to incorporate the Roman Catholic Church but the Roman Catholic Church never became a member of CCN, for Roman Catholic Church considered it a Protestant movement. The Roman Catholic Church later came together to work with CCN in the area of education and health. The aim of the meeting reflected in the name ‘United Missionary Council for Education’ which was the first name adopted by this association. The meeting described as the first ecumenical attempt of the churches in Nigeria had impact all over Nigeria as Churches in the North later joined the movement. As a result of the meeting the government was prevented from enacting the law. This accomplishment reflected the power of joint action and one voice. This success have the missionaries the courage to start an organization and in 1930 the name of the association was changed to Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) giving room for the organization to address issues, other than education, that are affecting the lives of Nigerians. For a dozen years the leadership of the organization was mostly in the hands of missionaries.

THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF NIGERIA (CCN) OGUN STATE CHAPTER VISION

“A united Christian Organization that is the conscience of the Society for the fullness of life for God’s creation in Nigeria.

MISSION

To facilitate and build the capacity of member denomination that ensures a sustained Christian lifestyle, witness and transformation of the Nigeria Society.

VALUE STATEMENT

  1. Responsible Steward: We shall be transparent, accountable, provide machinery for checks and balanced and be cost effective.
  2. Equal Participation: We respect the capacity of all God’s people; we recognize diversity and respect people’s opinion.

iii. Ecumenical Body: We are bound together in Christian Faith and will promote Harmony, Justice, Peace, Love and Unity.

  1. Spirit of Boldness: we will be bold enough to observe events taking place and speak out on these issues discreetly.
  2. Exemplary Life: we will demonstrate the spirit of honesty, faithfulness, accountability and transparency in all spheres of life.

FUNCTIONS

The function of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter shall include, but not limited to the following:

  1. To facilitate and/or establish the Christian Church in Nigeria, Ogun State that worships one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which accepts the scriptures of the old and new testaments as sufficient for salvation.
  2. To act as a forum by means of which its member-denominations can consult together and, when necessary, make common statements and take common action.
  • To act as a consultative body whereby, chiefly through its departments, the churches can work together in sponsoring projects or programmes of common benefits and interest.
  1. To generate such funds that will make for the carrying out of the vision, mission and value statement of the Council. These Funds shall be used to run the Council and establish such Institutions as will make the council relevant to eth needs of the society at all times.
  2. Generally to perform such other functions as will enable it to achieve its objectives.

MEMBERSHIP

A member Church of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter shall be:

Membership is open to a Christian Church in Nigeria, Ogun State, which:-

  1. Worships one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
  2. Accepts the scripture of the old and New testaments as sufficient for salvation.
  • Has an established organization.
  1. Teaches its members the Christian way of life and exercises Christian discipline.
  2. Is prepared to work in co-operation with other member-denominations.
  3. The list of member – Denomination shall be the one that exists in Ogun State as listed in Appendix 1 provided that the Assembly may add to the list in accordance with Article 4.
  • A prospective member – Denomination shall be sponsored by not less than three members – denomination, each of which shall be in good standing in the council.
  • The Application of such prospective member-denomination shall be considered by standing committee who shall forward its recommendation to the assembly.
  1. The recommendation shall be accepted by not less than two-thirds of the voting members present at the Assembly at its regular meeting.

Associate Membership

An Associate member – Body shall be recognized Christian Organization, which teachers its members, the Christian way of life and exercise Christian discipline, and which is prepared to work in co-operation with other member-denomination. Its application for associate membership shall be acceptable to not less than two –third of the voting members present at the assembly at its regular meeting.

Termination of Membership:

Membership of the council shall be terminated either by member- denominations own choice, or on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, ratified by the decision of not less than two –third of the voting members present at the state general meeting, provided that such Member – Denomination, prior to termination, shall liquidate all indebtedness.

ORGANS OF THE COUNCIL

The organs of the council shall be:

  1. The State general Assembly/meting
  2. The State Executive Committee
  3. The Divisional Area Committee
  4. The Unit Area Committee

The State General Assembly/Meeting

This shall be the Highest Organ of the Council.

Composition of the Assembly /Meeting

The State general assembly/meeting shall be on constituted as follows:

  1. Elected or appointed officers of the council, viz: The Chairman, the Vice Chairman, The Secretary, The Assistant Secretary, The Treasurer, The Financial Secretary, The Auditors, The legal Adviser and Four Public Reaction Officers which shall come from the far divisions.
  2. Divisional area officers viz: Remo, Ijebu, Yewa and Egba
  3. Officers at the Standing committee or officers at the National level are also members of the state general meeting and shall have right to vote.

Qualifications for the State Assembly/Meeting

Representation

Division

REMO

IJEBU

YEWA

EGBA

Every member denomination sending delegates to the state assembly/general meeting must ensure broad geographical spread within the local government that exists within the division.

OFFICERS OF THE COUNCIL

The officers of the council shall include

  1. The Chairman
  2. The Vice Chairman
  • The Secretary
  1. The Assistant Secretary
  2. The Treasurer
  3. The Financial Secretary
  • Two Auditors
  • The Legal Adviser
  1. Public Relation Officers (4) from each division

Election of Officers

  1. For the election of the officers, the executive shall form electoral body that shall produce nomination form to contestants.
  2. The nominations for the various positions shall be from the recommendation of suitable persons for the officers sent or sponsored by the Divisional Area.
  • Major Officers, such as the Chairman, eth vice chairman, the secretary & the treasurer shall be rotated among the existing denomination in the state.

Tenure of Office

All Officers shall hold the office for three (3) years of not more than two (2) terms.

Duties of Officers

The Chairman

  1. The Chairman shall be the head of the council and shall run the council in accordance with its vision, mission and value statement.
  2. He shall be the Chairman of the assembly/state meeting.
  • He shall speak for eth council in all matters relating to the vision, mission and value statement of the council.
  1. He shall be the major signatory to the accounts of the assembly
  2. He shall perform such other duties as may be necessary for the efficient running of the council, provided that such duties are not assigned to any officer of the council.

The Vice Chairman

  1. The Vice chairman shall in the absence of the chairman, perform the functions of the chairman.
  2. He shall be the chairman of the finance committee of the assembly.
  • He shall perform such other functions as may be assigned to him by the assembly.

The Secretary

  1. He shall be the chief Executive officer of the chapter.
  2. He shall be responsible to the executive on the execution of the policies of the chapter.
  • He shall be an ex-officio of all boards and committee set up by the assembly.
  1. He shall in conjunction with the Chairman invite members to meetings.
  2. He shall be a signatory to the accounts of the chapter.

The Assistant Secretary

  1. He shall assist the secretary in performing his duties generally.

The Treasurer

  1. The Treasurer shall be responsible for all the monies collected and expended on behalf of the council.
  2. He shall be the secretary of the finance committee of the assembly.
  • He shall be an ex-officio member of the assets and development committee of the assembly.
  1. He shall liaise with each board or committee of the council to ensure profitable performance of the council’s assets and properties.
  2. He shall be a signatory to the accounts of the chapter.
  3. He shall, with the approval of the finance committee, prepare the annual budget of the council and present same to the assembly at the last meeting of the year.

The Financial Secretary

  1. He shall keep record of money/monies received or incurred by the Assembly.
  2. He shall prepare vouchers for all expenditure of the assembly.
  • He shall work in close co-operation with the treasurer and general secretary.
  1. He and the treasurer shall make available all financial records to the auditors annually or at any other time as may be directed by the assembly.
  2. He shall ensure prompt payment of all duties for the four (4) divisions.

The Auditors

  1. There shall be two auditors who shall inspect and audit all account books at least once a year.
  2. They shall certify all audited accounts correct or otherwise.
  • All audited accounts shall be accomplished by a certificate used by the Joint auditors and submitted to the Assembly.

The Legal Adviser

  1. The Legal adviser shall be responsible for all the legal matters of the chapter.
  2. He shall advise the chapter on the proper documentation and registration of all the chapter’s assets.
  • He shall advise the chapter on the choice of capable lawyers to handle any legal; matter that the chapter may wish to take the court; and monitor the progress and proper prosecution of such legal matter.
  1. He shall perform such other legal obligations as eth executive or state assembly may seek to do, or as he may deem fit for the proper execution of the chapter’s vision, mission and value statement.

The Public Relation officers

There shall be four (4) PRO’s who shall publicize all activities of the assembly.

Vacancy

Where a substantive officer resigns from office or leaves office by way of translation, transfer, and the immediate subordinate officer to him will take over his functions. The vacant position of the subordinate officer will then be filled according to the provision of the Bye-Laws.

FINANCE

The Council’s financial need shall be met through:

  1. Annual Dues
  2. Other levies as may be determined by the council from time to time.
  • Income from properties.
  1. Grants in Aids and Donations

The financial needs shall be decided upon annually by the Executive/State Assembly and shown in a budget prepared by the finance committee sufficiently within the financial year.

All the funds of the council shall be lodged into a reputable banks approved by assembly. The Chairman, secretary and treasurer shall be signatories to the accounts.

The financial year of the council shall be from 1st January to 31st December of each year.

DIVISIONAL COMMITTEES

MAJOR DIVISIONAL COMMITTES

  1. For the convenience of operation and getting effective participation at the grassroots, the council shall break the state into four divisional area committees.
  2. For the time being, the state shall be divided into at least four (4) divisional area committee namely:-
  3. REMO DIVISIONAL AREA consisting of the following local governments: Sagamu, Ikenne & Remo
  4. IJEBU DIVISIONAL AREA consisting of the following local governments: Ogun Water Side, Ijebu Ode, Ijeu East, Ijebu North West, Ijebu North & Odogbolu.
  • YEWA DIVISIONAL AREA consisting of the following local governments: Yewa North, Yewa South, Ado-Odo/Ota, Ipokia and Imeko Afon

EGBA DIVISIONAL AREA consisting of the following local governments: Abeokuta South, Abeokuta North, Ifo, Ewekoro, Obafemi/Owode & Odeda.

The function of the major Divisional Area Committee shall include but not limited to:

  1. Implementing the decisions of the council and to facilitate the work of its committees in so far as such work requires the help and co-operation of the Major Divisional Area Committee
  2. Dealing with matters of local interest in their respective areas.
  • Dealing with such matter as shall referred to them by the state assembly.
  1. Coordinating the activities of state chapters within the Major Divisional Areas.
  2. Raising Funds for the execution of the projections of the committee.

Each major divisional area committee shall appoint its officers as stated above.

Each major divisional area committee shall send copies of its annual report to the state general secretary for record purpose.

 

The Rt. Revd. Dr. J. Akin Atere

The Lord Bishop, Diocese of Awori & State Chairman, CCN Ogun State Chapter