|Urhobo Historical Society|
|THE LIFE AND WORK OF AGORI IWE|
FIRST BISHOP OF BENIN DIOCESE
Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
|Originally Published in 1998 |
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo
BISHOP AGORI IWE’S
ADDRESSES TO HIS SYNODS
1. PRESIDENTAL ADDRESS BENIN DIOCESAN SYNOD – MAY, 1962
THE BISHOP’S CHARGE.
1. Venerable Archdeacons,
Honourable Chancellor & Deputy Chancellor,
Brethren of the Clergy,
Brethren of the Laity.
I bid you all welcome to this Second Session of the first Synod of the Diocese of Benin.
2. The Charge I am to read to you this morning is like an inventory of events that happened within the Diocese since the last 12 months after the last Synod meeting. It is not a speech from the Throne as certain people would prefer it called. In essence, it is a find of stock-taking, prefaced here and there, with more or less admonitions and exhortations. And so, you would not expect from your Bishop a masterpiece of oratory. Now, with this explanation, I begin the charge –
3. The first session which me 12 months ago at Warri, was an epoch making. It was an inaugural Synod. It was an Infant Synod of Benin Diocese. It was a Synod to draw up policies.
4. Since that time, we have had our full Laws and Regulations to rule and govern our church life and affairs. We have had our Diocesan officials rightly and properly appointed and installed: we have moved onward, and are moving upwards, as complete autonomous ecclesiastical unit, within the church of the Province of West Africa, and within the Catholic Church. We thank God for this high privilege, and pray that we may be given sufficient grace to meet our high calling.
5. The Motto for our Synod is, “Speak Lord, for thy servants hear”. We are to let all tumultuous thoughts and passions be kept under; and every thing be quiet and serene in our hearts and minds. Then, and only then, are we prepared and fit to hear the Lord speaking to us, through our morning devotions, through the reports, the debates and the speeches of the Synod. We can then take the decisions that seem right and good to the Holy Ghost. “Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear”.
1. THE sudden death of Revd. Canon S.T. Ademoye on the night of January, 14th 1963, the eve of his departure to his new station, was a hard blow to us all. He had just returned from U.K., where he had been for a year course at St. Augustine’s and was located to Warri District. During the ceremony of his send-off at his old station, Auchhi, he suddenly fell ill, and died after a few hours. Canon Ademove had done a meritorious service in Afenmai District. May his soul rest in peace. To Mrs. Ademoye, the children and rest of the members of that family, we send our sincerest condolence.
2. WITH sorrow we have to record, the death of the Rt. Rev. A. W. Howells, Bishop of Lagos, who passed away peacefully on the night to March 8th, 1963. He was a great loss, not only to Lagos Diocese, but also to us and to the whole Province of the Church of West Africa. At his funeral in Lagos, this Diocese was represented by the Bishop and Mrs. Agori Iwe, the Venerable Archdeacon Akinluyi and Mrs. Akinluyi. May his soul rest in peace.
3. JUST last week, the 2nd of May, we were badly shocked with another sad news of the sudden death of one of our prominent members, Senator Dahlton Ogieva Asemota, High tributes have been paid to his honour by many eminent persons. One among them, was Chief Dennis Osadebay, President of the Nigerian Senate. He said – “Senator Asemota was one, very beloved in Benin. He was of jovial nature. When I learnt of his death tears filled my eyes. His positioning the Senate will be difficult to fill”.
AND what is our tribute to this illustrious man? He was the prime mover for the creation of Benin Diocese. He spoke vehemently for it in the Synod of Ondo-Benin Diocese, 1959; and met me in Ughelli the same year for talk about the creation of the new Diocese. He was the chairman of Building Committee of our Cathedral. His name was among those who are to address this Synod today.
“THERE is a remedy for everything but death. The best of men cannot suspend their fate; the good die early; and the bad die late”. May his soul rest in peace.
(a) Shall we rise to pay our last tributes to these great servants of our Lords.
(b) “I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, write, from hence-forth, blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord…Even so, saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours” – Amen.
7. THE BISHOP’S COURT
Extension and Renovation of the old Bishop’s court, were completed before the Christmas and we have since moved into the Court, Mr. S.P. Oloyede who acted as the sole architect; Mrs. E. Akinluyi and company who decorated the Court and the contractor; deserve our praise and gratitude – well done, thank you, beloved brethren. The Court has been earning good compliments of everybody: among them was that of the Archbishop who came to see it on his way to Ondo Diocese.
8. PROPRIETORSHIP OF SCHOOLS
Last Synod, you will remember the question, who shall be the Proprietor of Schools in this Diocese? That agitated the minds of many people. I am happy to report here that the Bishop is the Proprietor, and has been recognised as such.
9. CREATION OF NEW DISTRICTS
(a) Benin District has been divided into North and South Districts.
(b) Ozoro Parish has been carved from Oleh District to form a District.
(c) Afenmai District has been made into three Provisional Church Districts; namely, Etsako, Otuo and Okoko-Oke.
10. STATE OF THE ARCHDEACONRIES IN THE DIOCESE
The twenty (20) Districts are divided into Archdeaconries as follows: –
|Warri Archdeaconry ||Benin Archdeaconry||Asaba Archdeaconry|
|1.Avia ||1. Benin South||1. Asaba|
|2. Oleh ||2. Benin North ||2. Agbor|
|3. Umuoru||3. Ora||3. Kwale|
|4. Urhobo||4. Ishan||4. Akwukwu-Igbo|
|5. Warri||5. Etsako-P.D.C.C.||5. Ubulukwu|
|6. Agbon ||6.Akoko-Oke P.D.C.C.|
|7. Saple||7. Otuo P.D.C.C.|
11. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF ARCHDEACONRIES AND DISTRICTS
It is being contemplated to make Benin Archdeaconry into two or three Archdeaconries; Warri Archdeaconry to two. The present Benin North and South Districts shall become four districts; Ishan District shall become two or three districts: Urhobo District shall be made into two or three districts, and Agbor District in Asaba Archdeaconry to become two districts. The smaller the units, the easier and efficient the administration.
On Sunday, December 23rd, 1962, in St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City, the followings were ordained.
|Timothy O. Umukoro||Robert S.A. Ayodele|
|Albert A. Agbaje||Gabriel U. Imora|
|Ebenezer C. Onwauama|
|John O. Agbonze.|
That was the first ordination service in the New Diocese and the first conducted by the new Bishop.
13. STUDENTS IN TRAINING
|(a) For Ordination:||(b) For Catechist:|
|1. Francis Nwanguzo||1. Stephen Onyonyewoms|
|2. L. Aliu||2. Samuel Adaghara|
|3. John Terhere||3. Francis Ogue|
|4. E. B. Okwezuzu||4. John Ovoedhe|
|5. R. Ogholi||5. Joseph Aikhoje|
|6. Peter Ereh||6. Samuel Dumbili|
|7. Chirstopher Itamakinde||7. Stephen Evbrirhe|
|8. Joseph Oyekusibe|
The Revd. John O. Dafiewhare has gone to England to work in an English Parish and to study Youth work. He is expected back in April next year.
14. TRANSFERS AND LOCATIONS
(I) Revd. J.W.I Idahosa from Ishan District to Benin North District.
(ii) Revd. S. O. Igie from St. Peter’s Benin City, to Warri District.
(iii) Revd. P. O. Ejodame from Igarra to Ishan District.
(iv) Revd. E. C. Owuama from Igbodo to Sapele District.
(v) Revd. S. I. Otuogbai from Lampese to Akoko-Oke P.D.C.C.
(vi) Revd. S.O. Omotoriogun from Ondo Diocese to Okpe in Akoko-Oke P.D.C.C.
(vii) Revd. T. Umukoro from Trinity College, Umuahia to Ozoro District.
(viii)Revd. A. A. Agvaje from Emmanuel College, Ibadan to Uzebba Parish in Ora District.
15. CONFIRMATION SERVICE
During the year 1962, I conducted 33 services of confirmation and a total of 2,206 persons were confirmed –
In Benin Archdeaconry 1,372
“ Warri “ 446
“ Asaba “ 338
(1) Two clergymen from the Diocese of Uganda East Africa, visited the Diocese in June last year for sight seeing.
(2) The Revd. John V. Taylor, Africa Secretary of the C.M.S. visited in June and had meeting with selected clergy and laity. His purpose of visit was to know the problems and difficulties confronting the churches in Africa; with a view to help solve them were possible, He said, “In independent Nigeria, many expatriates have found it difficult to continue as servants instead of holding responsible posts in the civil service. But in the church, this is not the case. Expatriates are willing to serve as Missionaries and advisers on important issues in order to work out a good relationship and foster the union in the church. Because there are now eminent Nigerians, who are capable of leading, they should be the important figures, and given room to lead”.
Revd. Taylor made it clear to us that his society has not the intention to withdraw her Missionaries unnecessarily, and, that giving room to the churches here to lead does not mean that the society will relax into slumber.
(3) In December, 4 and 5, the Rev. and Mrs. R.T. Jourdan of the Church Assembly, Overseas Council, visited Benin City and were our guests. They left us with good impressions.
(4) In December 10-16, the Rev. Canon Douglas Webster of C.M.S. visited, and conducted a retreat for clergy and laity. Nearly 80 people were in attendance. Members were awakened to a new life of devotion to God and His Church. He made a donation of £10 to the Diocese.
(5) Early in January this year, the Revd. Willis Hunking of the U.M.S. Mokwa conducted a Bible Refresher Course for all Protestant Church Leaders at the R.T.C. Asaba. It was a useful course. Revd. Hunking shall address us in this Synod on the importance and desirability of Bible Courses for Church Leaders.
17. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICIA
March 1st this year, was observed the Day the Constitution of the Church of the Province of West Africa, we belong, came into being.
At midnight of February 28, church bells tolled throughout the Diocese. And on March 1st, there were celebrations of Holy Communion.
The effect of this Constitution is that the church of the Province of West Africa has gained her complete autonomy.
18. NEW ASSISTANT BISHOP OF ACCRA
This year, the Assistant Bishop of Accra, the Rt. Revd. E.D. Martinson, C.B.E., went on retirement, and the Venerable I.S.M. Lemaire was consecrated to take his place. We wish Bishop Martinson more happy years of retirement, and the new bishop, grace to fulfil onerous duty of his office.
Our hearty congratulations to the Honourable Revd. I. Ediki and Honourable G.I. Oviasu on their appointments Regional Ministers. May God grant them the necessary grace and wisdom to discharge the duty of their new office.
The command of Our Lord – “Go forth…make all nations my disciples” – appeared to be grossly neglected. We are prone to forget in our scheme of works, that there are other sheep which must be brought into this fold. That negligence may be proved against us. Out of a total of £10,000 budgeted for our work in the Diocese, not a penny was set apart for definite Evangelistic purpose. And of the many boards and Committees set up, not one was charged with this responsibility. As a church, this is a serious omission. A motion is coming before this Synod to urge us to cure this dangerous apathy and to consider definite ways and means for bringing the Good News of Our Saviour into the heathen hamlets and villages the Geographical boundaries of this Diocese. Let us heed the Command.
A good number of reports shall be read to you. Among them are Education, Schools and Colleges, Churches and Finances, Youth and Women’s work, etc. To avoid unnecessary repetitions I have left those out there.
22. LAY READERS
A Committee set up by the Diocesan Board to advise the Bishop on the methods of training and Licensing Lay Readers in this Diocese, has done useful work. It is hoped that, before long, the recommendations will be implements.
23. CHURCH UNION IN NIGERIA
A small pamphlet, entitled – “Church Union News”, which I have distributed to all clergy and few Laymen, contained, in a nutshell, what is required of average of members of our church to know about the Union. Another pamphlet, “Scheme of Church Union in Nigeria”, is also available here for you.
Before a final decision is reached, each Diocese or Body to form the union, shall be required to signify its consent to join it, by a resolution of its Synod, Council or Conference.
In this Diocese, we shall set up a Three-Tier-Committee for it – District, Archdeaconry and Diocesan – to consider whether or not we should join the Union. We shall watch our elderly Dioceses and move, as they move. It would be advisable, however, to keep within their steps.
24. ANGLICAN CONGRESS, TORONTO
As reported in our last Synod, the Congress is meeting in August this year. Our representatives are Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe, Clergy, the Venerable S. O. Akinluyi: Layman, G.H. Vellacott Esq.
25. THE CATHDRAL
Seeing is believing. As you can see here, the Cathedral needs no advertisement. Wonderful progress has been made in the building. When completed it shall rank in high order with modern Cathedrals in the Continent of Africa. A report on the work shall be read to you later in this Synod.
26. MATERNITY HOMES
Many Districts with Maternity homes and finding them difficult to run. The financial burden has become too heavy upon them.
A special committee to consider the matter has not met. But the following proposals have been made –
(a) That Local Governments be asked to run the Homes.
(b) That the Homes be handed over to Private Midwives to run.
(c) That the Homes be closed down.
It is heartening to not that our church is the first pioneer of this humanitarian service. The church has opened the way. We should thank God that many are now delighted to tread on this way.
27. THE OBA
His Royal Highness, the Oba of Benin, Akenzua II, shall honour this Synod by his visit.
The Oba, besides being our natural ruler, is a good friend of our church. He was present at the Service of my Consecration, and also at the Services of Inauguration and the Enthronement. He was Chairman of one of the big Receptions for me here in Benin City. Long live the Oba.
Mrs. Iwe and I have been very very grateful to the Districts, Parishes, Schools and individuals, for wonderful receptions accorded us during our tour of the Diocese. And, to mention in particular, the Churches and individual Christians in Benin City: their kind generosity and Christian liberality was more than surprise. “VBA RUESE O”.
29. VOTE OF THANKS
I beg to bring to the notice of those who shall move our vote of thanks; to include the followings –
(1) The Revd. Canon W. E. Burne; for his untiring efforts, as member of Boards of Governors of many Schools in the Diocese.
(2) Mr. K. Gill Honourable G. I. Oviasu, and their clerks; for keeping intact our financial state.
(3) Mr. G.H. Vellacott; for his kind services in preparing documents for our passports and acting as our travel agent.
(4) Miss J. V. Herklots; for her pioneer education work in this Diocese for the past years.
(5) And last, but not the least, Archdeacons, Canons, Superintendents, Pastors, Catechists, Principals and Tutors, Education Secretaries and A. As and all teachers.
ST LUKE’S CHURCH, SAPELE – REBELLIOUS ACT
It is with deep sorrowful feeling that I should refer in my charge to that willful and deliberate act of disobedience of certain sections of that church.
I will read to you two relevant letters. One to them from me before the incident. The other is a report from the Pastor, after that incident.
I wrote, dated 9th January, 1963
“My dear Brothers and Sisters in-Christ, I have today received your four-man delegation and discussed the subjects of your letter date 6th January, 1963 to the Archdeacon of Warri, copy to me. In the first place, I do appreciate your request to have a Yoruba speaking Pastor. That had been in our minds. As the present Pastor is going away to England by April, if all is well and orderly, we may find a way to satisfy you.
And secondly, I advise you to withdraw your statements that you will not allow the Pastor coming to lodge in St. Luke’s parsonage house, and that Urhobo section of your Church will not be allowed to worship there at the end of this month. These are very unchristian. Please do not carry them out.
With prayers that God may bless you and your work.
Yours sincerely in-Christ”
Bishop of Benin
A LETTER FROM THE PASTOR AFTER THE INCIDENT
“My Lord Bishop …
A report of what happened when I arrived Sapele on the 10th January, 1963.
I left Ivrogbo at 8 a.m. on Thursday the 10th January, 1963 and arrived Sapele at 12:30. Because the lorry driver and myself were not familiar with the road, we took sometime to find our way to St. Luke’s Vicarage Sapele.
When at last we found our way I was glad and the driver drove into the compound. At the Vicarage, there were quite a good number of people, men and women sitting down round the veranda. All I thought was that these people were there to give me and my family a welcome because I had sent a written message to them that I will arrive that 10th day of January. But to my greatest surprise, as soon as I alighted from the lorry, two men whom I came to know later to be Mr. A and Mr. B, came to meet me and inquired without a word of greeting whether I got a telegram which they sent. I replied no, and they went further to say “we are sorry, we have informed the Bishop, there is no room for you here in the vicarage.” When I asked what place is prepared for me, they said they were not interested and that it was none of their business. They then ordered that the driver should leave the compound at once, my wife and my family and our belongings still in the lorry.
I left my family and the lorry and hurried to meet Mr. S. O. Palmer, the people’s warden in his office which is some poles away from the Vicarage and told him all that has happened to me. He said he was sorry for what has happened, that he has tried to dissuade the people from that action and that all his efforts failed. He confessed that he was with them in making their move and sent a delegation to the Bishop, but since the delegation returned with a letter from the Bishop, he has changed his mind about the matter and advised the people to discontinue with the plan but they refused; therefore, he is powerless. However, he accompanied me from his office to the Vicarage and spoke to the people in the Yoruba language which of course I do not understand. He told me after his talking with the people that they have refused to let me in. he then went away and I was left with my family and property still in the lorry.
As I was helpless and hopeless, a friend came along and asked me to follow him to this house where he arranged for me to stay in a little apartment in one Madam Asagba’s house until better arrangement be made for me either to go back or to remain.
That afternoon the new went round the town and the other Anglican Churches in Sapele, viz: Urhobo St. Luke’s Isoko Anglican Church. Edo Anglican and Ibo Christ Church rallied round and go a house at No. 3/15 Ogorode Road, Sapele and took my family and my belongs to the house where I am now staying.
On Sunday the 13th, I decided to go and worship with them in St. Luke’s in spite of the way they treated me on Thursday. When I got to the Church at 9 a.m. the Church building was locked up and at about 9:45 a.m. they assembled in one of the school classrooms for their service. I went in with them in company of Mr. F. M. Ohen the Catechist in-charge of the Ibo Christ Church in order to worship with them and to speak to them. But they were so offended with my presence and they started to make a great deal of noise and one Mr. C. whom they invited gave out a hymn which they sang very badly and after saying some prayers, they left me and Mr. Ohen in the classroom.
However, I went to meet the Bishop at Benin who told me to be still and pray for them with hope that they will come to their right mind.
Up till now they have locked up the church and continue to worship in the classroom
The fact that nothing can be hidden in life I have been informed later that they did arrange for Policeman to hid behind the Vicarage in order to arrest men and charge me if I try to force myself into the Vicarage the very day I arrived and also they did consult a Barrister at Law for any case that may arise thereby.
I feel I must send this report to the Bishop before I leave Sapele since it has been arranged for me to go overseas.
Sgd. J. O. Dafiewhare
Note: However, I am happy to report that since a week ago, there has been a godly move, by a group of godly men and women in that Church to restore peace. And be it noted that St. Luke’s is one of the oldest and important churches in this Diocese.
I would like to refer to the 2nd Session of the 3rd Synod of Ondo-Benin Diocese, held here in Benin City, 1960, when the observation – “Although our Diocesan Constitution specifically states that any worker must be ready to move and regard the ruling of the Appointments Board as final.” Yet these two men tried and manoeuvred to flout the authority of their Bishop, and get their old glad to see that the Diocesan Board stood firmly by me, and the necessary discipline was administered. In the case of the Churches of this Synod to speak seriously to one another. Under any circumstances whatever, disobedience to constituted authority cannot be justified.
ST. PAUL’S IBO CHURCH, BENIN CITY
There, a group of gentlemen have constituted themselves as an authority to govern and rule the church from outside. Many things they have done, and many more they are trying to do disturb that church. I have warned them and continued to warn them. If they change they will be forgiven; if not, “sin is couching at the door”.
Did not St. Paul warn about false brethren? He said in Philippians 3.2 “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers.”
Thus, we pray in the words of church Litany – “From all sedition, privy conspiracy and rebellion … from schism, from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word and commandment … God Lord, deliver us”.
ONDO DIOCEASAN SYNOD – MY VISIT
On invitation of His Lordship, the Bishop of Ondo Diocese, I had the privilege of attending their Synod and preached the sermon. In a special reception arranged for me, a purse containing many pounds sterling, was handed to me. Many good things were said about me and Benin Diocese. They asked to convey to you their warm and affectionate greetings, with assurance of prayerful support and good wishes. This they have already shown in a practical way by compassionate deduction of £520:12s from an old assessment debt of £1,041:4s; owed them by Afenmai, Ishan and Ora Districts. This has helped to wipe out that debt immediately.
Now, with mixed feeling I am to tell you the news, as announced in their Synod, that our dear old father in God, the Rt. Revd. D.O. Awosika, M.A. L. Th. Shall retire this year. When the day comes we shall play our part as his good children.
Now, our relationship with the Ondo and Niger Dioceses is that of a son and his father. We have two big fathers on each side of us. Remember that old Yoruba lyric: “Tani pe a o ni Baba, Kal ani Baba.” And we can put, in the stanza to suit our case:
Bishop Awosika Baba wa,
Kai ani Baba:
Ondo Diocese Baba wa,
Kai ani Baba:
Archbishop Baba wa,
Kai ani Baba:
Niger Diocese Baba wa,
Kai ani Baba:
Tani pe a o ni Baba,
Kai ani Baba.
Now, with that jubilant note, I beg to conclude my charge.
May god bless our deliberations, and use us for advancement of His Kingdom, to the glory of His name, now and forever, Amen.
ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF BENIN
DIOCESAN SYNOD 1969
1. My Venerable Archdeacons, Canons, and other brethren of the Clergy.
Honourable Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor, My Registrar, Legal and Medical Advisers. Other brethren of the Laity; distinguished guests and friends.
I bid you all warm welcome to the second session of the third Synod of the Diocese of Benin.
2. There is something spectacular and thrilling in this Synod. Do you notice it? I will tell you.
Some members who attended the last synod as members of the House of Laity, have crossed carpet to the House of Clergy. We must salute them BRAVO! Because it needed a great courage to take Ordination Vows. Others have been scared away; yet these men have taken this course, not for motive of material gain, but for the service of our Lord and Master. And for them this petition becomes a reality – “To give and not to count the cost … to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do Thy will.”
3. Confirmation Service
During the year 1968, services of confirmation were held in 24 different centres in the Diocese. And a total number of 1,863 candidates were confirmed.
4. Lay Readers
Some years ago, a Committee was appointed which considered a special grade of Lay Readers for the Diocese; in addition to the old type of Lay Readers. The new Lay Readers are to be called Diocesan Lay Readers. They will be chosen from among our educated, experienced and matured Communicant members; who will be given more job to do in Pastoral and teaching work of the Church. Soon here, I will show you a sample and model of the new Lay Readers.
Already, the Bishop’s Chaplain has produced a beautiful form of service for their Commissioning, and at the same time indicating the functions of the new Lay Readers.
Many men have applied through their Vicars and Superintendents to be commissioned. This is very encouraging indeed.
The old type of Lay Readers will be called District Lay Readers, and will have their Ribbons and Badges changed; but their functions will remain the same. Pray for this new venture of our Lay Ministry.
5. The Lambeth Conference
The Lambeth Conference, a meeting of all Bishops of the Anglican Communion over all the world, is held every ten years. In the 1968 conference in London, I had the privilege to attend. We were 462 Bishops.
The Theme of the Conference was: “The Renewal of the Church.” And it was divided into three sub-headings namely: “The Renewal in Faith”, “The Renewal in Ministry”, and “The Renewal in Unity”.
The Conference lasted for 31 days. This period offered the Bishops an opportunity for spiritual refreshment, for learning from one another, and for a happy fellowship one with another.
69 resolutions were passed during the Conference.
Here, for purpose of time and space, I will give you substance of only five of them, namely:
(1) Resolution 4: on life of prayer. That the Church should search to discover those forms of spirituality and methods of prayer, both corporate and personal, which meet the needs of men and women today. And to pay more attention to the development of that capacity for silent prayer which exists in her members; and should encourage corporate and personal waiting upon God.
(2) Resolution 9: on Human Unity. The Conference affirmed that Human Unity can only be achieved if all Governments are willing to work towards a form of World Government, designed to serve the interest of all mankind.
(3) Resolution 23: On Marriage Discipline. The Conference recognises that Polygamy poses one of the sharpest conflicts between the Christian faith and particular culture. The Church seeks to proclaim the will of God in setting out the clear implications of our Lord’s teaching about Marriage. The Church bears witness to monogamous life long marriage as God’s will for mankind. Yet, it recognises that in every place many problems concerning marriage confront the Church.
(4) Resolution 24: On Ministry of the Laity. The Conference recommends that no major issue in the life of the Church should be decided without the full participation of the Laity in discussion and in decision.
(5) Resolution 33: On a Wider Ordained Ministry. The Conference considers that, while the full-trained and full-time Priesthood is essential to the theological principle which forbids a suitable man from being ordained Priest while continuing in his lay occupation … such provision is not to be regarded as a substitute for the full-time Ministry of the Church, but as an addition to.
Now, as time goes on, we shall see some of these Resolutions being implemented.
Since last we met, the following men have been ordained:
(a) On the Feast of Advent:
(1) The Revd. T.O. Okolugbo, B.A., as Priest.
(2) The Revd. N.A. Enuku, as Priest.
(3) Mr. F.A. Eboreime, B.Sc., Dip. Ed. As Deacon.
(4) Mr. A. W. Bovi, B.A. Dip. Ed. As Deacon.
(5) Mr. U. O. Ayeni, B. Sc. As Deacon.
(6) Mr. S.U. Erivwo, B.A., as Deacon.
(b) On the Feast of Easter:
(1) The Revd. F.A. Eboreime, B.Sc., Dip. Ed. As Priest.
(2) The Revd. A. W. Bovi, B.A. Dip Ed. As Priest.
(3) The Revd. U. O. Ayeni, B. Sc. As Priest.
(4) The Revd. S.U. Erivwo, B.A. as Priest.
(5) Mr. J. O. Kolo, B.A. as Deacon.
(6) Mr. J. O. Binitie, as Deacon.
(7) Mr. F.M.E. Vese, M.O.N., as Deacon.
(8) Mr. N. G. Lesso, B.A., as Deacon.
(9) Mr. D.U.A. Eferekaya, as Deacon.
May the Lord bless their Ministry.
7. Vital Statistic
(a) Total Registered Members (Baptised and Communicants) 50,000.
(b) Registered Communicants 15,000.
8. State of Finance
(a) The following Districts have done very well in contributions to the maintenance of the Diocese:
(1) St. Matthew’s District, Benin City.
(2) St. Peter’s District, Benin City.
(3) St. James’ District, Benin City.
(4) Eko-Abetu District, Benin City.
(5) Ekpoma District in Ishan Archdeaconry
(6) Uhonmora District in Owan Archdeaconry
(7) Oleh District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(8) Bethel District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(9) Owhe District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(10) Ozor District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(11) Aviara District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(12) Ase District in Isoko Archdeaconry
(13) Ughelli District in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(14) Agbon District in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(15) Uwheru District in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(16) Jeremi District in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(17) St. Luke’s Sapel in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(18) Warri District in Urhobo Archdeaconry
(19) Igobodo District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(20) Abbi District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(21) Ubulu-Uku District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(22) Owa-Ute District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(b) The following Districts have done fairly well:
(1) Ubiaja District in Ishan Archdeaconry.
(2) Obiaruku District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(3) Agbor District in Asaba Archdeaconry
(c) The following have done badly:
(1) Orhua District in Benin South Archdeaconry
(2) Iyekhoriomwon District in Beni North Archdeaconry
(3) Etsakor District in Afenmai Archdeaconry
(4) Akoko-Edo District in Afenmai Archdeaconry.
(5) Otuo District in Afenmai Archdeaconry
(6) Irhuekpen District in Ishan Archdeaconry
(7) Ebelle District in Ishan Archdeaconry
(8) Emai District in Owan Archdeaconry
(9) Iuleha District in Owan Archdeaconry
(10) Akwukw-Igbo District in Asaba Archdeaconry.
(c) The following Districts have done the worse, having contributed no penny during the year 1968, to support the Diocese:
(1) Ora District paid nothing, although the aggregate contributions of churches in that District amounted to £2;441:3s:10d, according to their statistics of 1968.
(2) Idumuje-Ugboko District paid nothing, although their aggregate contribution was £1,170:17s:4d in 1968.
(3) Igbanke District paid nothing, although they raised £634:5s:10d in 1968.
Questions may be posed here; can these three Districts claim to belong to this Diocese? And can their delegates be, de facto, members of this synod> these are questions for them to answer.
Out of £12,251 Assessment for 1968, only £5,117 was realised. As a result, the Diocese is owing enormous debts to Immanuel College, Ibadan; and Vining Centre, Akure; where we train our Pastors and Catechists.
Until these debts are paid, we cannot train in those institutions; and there is no where else for us to train our workers.
That is our deplorable position and I want this Synod to view the situation with all seriousness.
9. Obituary Notices
The following servants of the Lord have been called to higher service:
(1) The Rt. Revd. A. B. Akinyele, retired Bishop of Ibadan.
(2) The Rt. Revd. S.M. Nkemena, retired assistant Bishop on the Niger.
(3) The Revd. G. O. Akhigbe, Superintendent of Iruekpen District, Benin Diocese.
(4) The Revd. F. E. Nwaguzo, Superintendent of Aboh District, Benin Diocese.
(5) Mrs. F. E. Nwaguzo, wife of Revd. Nwaguzo.
(6) Others you will find on Obituary Notice Board. (Let us rise for a moment, in honour of these great men and women).
One of the Elders addressed me, saying who are these clothed in white robes, and whence have they come? And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, these are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore, are they before the throne of God and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17).
10. Benin Diocesan Rehabilitation Scheme
You will remember, the last synod meeting resolved to project this scheme in order to meet the needs of our unfortunate brothers and sisters who might suffer because of the civil war. I am glad to report that the Committee appointed for this job under our able Chancellor, is doing excellent work. Detail report of work of this Committee will be given in this synod. One of the Overseas’ visitors to this Diocese, after examining the Committee’s Books and Accounts, remarked: “This is one of the best arrangements so far, I know that have been made for displaced person of the war.”
11. Effect of the War on Our Churches
For you here, this is not a new story. Five of our Church districts can no more be reckoned on. They are:
(1) St. Paul’s District, Benin City
(2) Christ Church District, Sapele
(3) All Saints’s District, Asaba
(4) Aboh District in Isoko Archdeaconry, and
(5) More than half of Umuoru District in Isoko Archdeaconry.
Let us pray for these districts so that when the war is over they may regain their status among us.
12. Report from meeting of the Episcopal Synod of the Province of West Africa
(1) Resignation of the Archbishop: the Most Revd. C. J. Patterson, C.M.G., C.B.E., D.D., M.A., who has worked for 35 years as Missionary in Eastern Nigeria, is to retire at the end of June this year.
He is hoping to come to this Diocese to shake hand with us before he leaves. Everyone of you knows him. He is a true father in God. A good message of greetings will be sent to him by the Synod. And we shall move a vote of thanks for his meritorious work.
(2) New Appointments:
(a) The Rt. Revd. M.N.C.O. Scott, D.D., Bishop of Sierra Leone was elected the Archbishop of West Africa. He is an able person. This Synod will send him good message of congratulations.
(b) the Rt. Rev. L. M. Uzodike, Assistant Bishop of Niger diocese was elected the Diocesan Bishop of the Niger Diocese.
(c) The Revd. G.N. Otubelu, B.A., B. D., Dip. Ed. was elected the Bishop of the Diocese of Enugu.
May the Lord grant them the necessary grace to fulfil the duties of their new office.
13. Education Matters
For fear of trespassing on field belonging to our honourable Education Secretary, I should not touch matters of education. He will tell you in his report all you ought to know about our work in Primary and Secondary Schools, and in our two Teachers’s Training College.
14. Conferment of Church Honour
The following Clergymen of the Diocese have been conferred with Canonry Honour of the Cathedral:
(1) The Revd. G. I. Kerry
(2) The Revd. E. Arawore
(3) The Revd. M. M. Okerri
(4) The Revd. A. O. Ifeade
(5) The Revd. J. O. Dafiewhare
(6) The Revd. A. W. Bovi, B.A. Dip. Ed.
(7) The Revd. F.A. Eboreime, B.Sc. Dip. Ed.
(8) The Revd. U.O Ayeni, B.Sc.
These appointments were made to fill existing vacancies which have been long standing.
We congratulate them, and wish them well.
Reports reaching me from different centres are exceedingly encouraging. A heathen village of Okparabe in Urhobo Archdeaconry which hitherto had no church, now has a church of about 200 members. Many churches in Urhobo and Isoko Archdeaconries have increased their membership considerably last year.
Each Evangelist leader will give report of his work to this Synod.
16. New Comers to the Diocese
(1) Mrs. B. Gibson, B.Sc. Maths. (London Special Hons), Dip.Ed. the new Principal of Anglican girls’ Grammar School, Ughelli.
(2) Miss F. W. Dore, b. A., Dip. Ed. The new Principal of Anglican Women Teachers’ Training College, Benin City.
(3) And a host of others who are serving in various capacities in our schools and colleges.
We give them our hearty and warm welcome; and wish them a happy and cheerful stay with us.
The following workers in or schools have been seconded to the Government of the State. They are:
(1) Mrs. Chief M. Brook, formerly Principal of A.W.T.TC., Benin City.
(2) Mr. M.A. Marioghae, formerly acting Principal of A.G.G.S., Ughelli.
(3) Mr. Z. O. Dongo, formerly Senior Tutor in Anglican Boys’ Grammer School, Igarra.
(4) Mr. J. B. Ighoomereho, formerly Senior Tutor in Anglican Boys’ Grammar School, Okpara W/S.
(5) Mr. D.A. Sule, formerly Administrative Assistant in Benin Archdeaconry.
(6) Revd. F.M.E. Vese, formerly headmaster of St. Andrew’s Anglican School, Warri.
It is our pleasure that we have this privilege of helping our Government by these secondments. The Government also helps us in a larger measure in our Educational work. It is only right and proper that we reciprocate in this humble way.
We appeal to our men and women, so seconded, to project our true image of charity, integrity and obedience to their new master. May God give them the necessary grace.
18. Location of Workers
(1) The Revd. R.U.E. Mariere, to the Cathedral as Curate.
(2) The Revd. N.A. Enuku, to Oleh as Curte.
(3) The Revd. P.I. Ogedegbe, to Holy Trinity Grammar School, Ora, as Tutor.
(4) The Revd. T.O. Uwoghiren, to Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Ibillo, as Tutor.
(5) The Revd. T. Otubue, to Ughelli as Curate.
(6) The Revd. J. Idume, to Obiaruku District.
(7) The Revd. S.I. Omoera, to Orhua District.
(1) Mr. J.O. Umukoro, to Okparabe Church in Urhobo.
(2) Mr. L. Eyabuno, to Warri District.
(3) Mr. G. Ossai, to Aboh District.
(4) Mr. D. Ariyo, to Benin North Archdeaconry.
(5) Mr. J. Madu, to Asaba Archdeaconry.
(6) Mr. J. Orioma, from Obiaruku to Isoko Archdeaconry.
(7) Mr. P. I. Osakue to Benin North Archdeaconry.
19. The Cathedral Building
This saying is true – Seeing is believing” as you can see, I need not describe to you the improvements and the work done in the Cathedral since last we met here. We cannot be too grateful to the Archdeacon and members of his congregation for their spontaneous action in this gigantic work. To them we say, well done. May the Lord bless you faithful givers.
20. Our Refugee Pastors and Teachers
With financial aids from Overseas and Lagos Diocese; and Ondo Diocese; we were able to pay part of arrears of salaries owed to those who fled their stations because of the war. We are still owing some of them.
21. The Forces of Evil Are Around Us
Never before was this saying true than in our age, “that the day is evil; and that we should redeem the time.” While we are fighting today in our country with determination to crush a rebellion – Rebellion has been termed in the Bible as the sin of witchcraft (cf I Sam. 15:23f) – We must not lose sight of other rebellious acts pestering the life of our church and society.
They are, immorality, corruption, injustice, brutality, insubordination and indiscipline. These also are the enemies of the church and the nation.
I appeal therefore; to all christians everywhere to be vigilant and alert against these evils. This is also a task that must be done in order to build a better church and better nation for ourselves, and for posterity to inherit and to enjoy.
22. The Theme for Meditation in This Synod
(1) Specially selected for this synod in this theme – “Behold the Lord Jesus is Coming”.
On Sunday you heard the preacher on this subject. And throughout this week, you will hear other speakers on this same topic.
Here let us take notice. There was the promise of Jesus’ birth. And he was born.
There was the promise of his death. And he died and was buried.
There was the promise of his resurrection. And he rose again the third day. And there was the promise of his bodily ascension into heaven. And he did ascend in his body into heaven, after 40 days of his resurrection.
Now, there is the promise of his bodily and visible return again to earth, yet to be fulfilled. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles boldly records this promise. “This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
(2) I wish we could also be stirred up to recapture the authentic thrill of Jesus’ second coming to earth, like the early Christians.
(3) It is high time for our christians, who read their Bibles daily, to interpret this prophecy of his second coming, in the light of those prophecies that are already fulfilled in him.
For no one can devotionally study the New Testament, without feeling that, the thought and hope of Jesus’ Second coming to earth, is everywhere present, and powerful in the first christians.
(4) The memorandum of this his second coming is enshrined, and embalmed in the Christian Creed – “…From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
(5) And it is treasured in our daily Canticle – the Te Deum. “We believe that thou shall come to be our judge.”
(6) And also, it is embodied in our Service of the Lord’s Super – The Holy Communion. “He did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again. “Do this in remembrance of me” – Till I come.
(7) Well now, my fellow christians: shall we break faith with those early christians, in the blessed hope of our Lord’s Second Coming? If we do, we may be numbered with the infidels. God forbid.
(8) The Book of Revelation declared, “Behold, he is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see him.” (Revelation 1:7).
(9) And Jesus himself confirmed this truth. “Surely I am coming.” (Revelation 22:20).
(10) The grace of our Lord Jesus, be with us all – Amen.
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BY THE RT. REVD. AGORI IWE, C.F.R., M.B.E., J.P., BISHOP OF BENIN TO THE SYNOD OF BENIN DIOCESE, MEETING AT AGBOR, ON MONDAY 2ND JULY, 1973
1. (a) Honourable Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor, Mr. Registrar, Legal Adviser and Medical Adviser, Venerable Archdeacons and Canan, Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, Your royal Highnesses, the Obis, Distinguished Guests,
I heartily greet you with warm welcome to this Synod, which is meeting, first time in this booming urban town of Agbor.
(b) And with warm cordiality and special salutations, we welcome their royal highnesses, the obis, who are delighted to attend the Synod on our humble invitations.
Obas and obis have a place in the Church of God. They are ministers of God. (Compare Romans 13/14 A.V.). They should claim their divine status by becoming believers, and associating themselves with the christian church, like other obas and Obis in the West and the East. The Lord save our Rulers.
(c) Now, I recall with interest a short story of the beginning of our Church here is Agbor. In the year 1911, christian church started in this area; first at Igbanke and later extended to Agvor here. The first members of St. John’s Agbor, were the persecuted converts in Igbanke, who fled to Agbor with their families for safety.
The congregation of St. John’s Church Agbor, comprised people of Yoruba, Ora, Ishan, Urhobo, Itsekiri and the natives, who came to settle for interest of their trades. The congregation is truly a cosmopolitan.
Today, St. John’s Church Agbor ranks with the progressive churches of the Diocese. With her energetic and experienced Pastor; and the help of a strong leadership of his wife among the women, this Church is flourishing with new developments. The new church building you see, compared favourably with other church buildings in the diocese.
May the Lord continue to bless this Church with increase of grace and faith.
2. Guildford Diocese: Youth Pilgrimage to West Africa
As from august this year, about forty young people from English parishes in the Diocese of Guildford, will be visiting different Dioceses of West Africa, to familiarize themselves with the churches. Two of these young people have been allocated to come to our Diocese. They are Master Timothy Good-acre and Master James Wood. They will arrive early August and spend about 6 weeks with us. Special Committee has met and drawn up programme of their work in each Archdeaconry. We shall be happy to welcome them and make them feel at home with us.
3. Confirmation Services
Confirmation services were conducted in 35 centres since the last synod. Number of candidates confirmed is 1,938.
Benin North Archdeaconry – 121
Benin South Archdeaconry – 122
Ishan Archdeaconry – 71
Owan Archdeaconry – 80
Afenmai Archdeaconry – 249
Isoko Archdeaconry – 575
Asaba Archdeaconry – 365
Urhobo Archdeaconry – 345
4. In Memoriam
We remember here all our faithful brothers and sisters, who have passed away to be with Christ. Their names are on the roll of Honour posted on the Board. Some of these, because of their exemplar life and work, we feel should be mentioned:
(a) George D. Nabofa – Retired Clergyman of this Diocese.
(b) The Rt. Rev. E.T. Dimieari – Retired Bishop of Nigeria delta Diocese.
(c) Mr. S.T. Towuru –who died in active service – few hours after a church meeting.
(d) Mr. G.I. Ogoh, Principal of Ibillo Grammar School – also died in active service.
(e) The Rt. Revd. R.N. Bara Hart, retired Bishop of Niger Delta.
(f) Pa. Azinge of All Saints’ Church – Asaba.
(g) Mr. G.K. Dorgu, Diocesan Lay Reader of St. Andrew’s Church, Warri.
To their families and relatives we express our deep sympathy. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. Amen.
Now, let us rise for a moment’s silence in honour of these faithful departed.
“And we commend to thy gracious keeping, O God, all servants who departed this life in thy faith and fear beseeching Thee to grant them everlasting light and peace through Jesus Christ, our Lord – Amen.”
5. Reports from provincial Synod
(1) The Encyclical letter from Bishops of the Province, to all the faithful in the church of the Anglican Province of West Africa has been distributed to you. There are few copies here for those who have not got it.
(2) A New Diocese of Kumasi – Ghana.
The Provincial Synod has raised Kumasi Archdeaconry in Accra Diocese to a new Diocese.
The Rt. Rev. John b. Arthur has been elected the first Diocesan Bishop. The Diocese was inaugurated in June this year.
We wish Kumasi Diocese, its Bishop, clergy and people, every blessing success.
The following devoted and faithful workers have retired from active service of the Diocese:
(1) Revd. L. A. Aliu (2) Mr. E. Nwosa, Catechist (3) Umolu, Catechist
We prayerfully wish them God’s blessing on their retirement.
This have been pasted on the Board for you.
7. Future Relationship of the C.M.S. To The Overseas Dioceses
Memorandum to explain this new policy has been sent to all Diocesan bishops. I need only to quote here, vital parts:
(a) “Where a truly mutual relationship has been established, the Diocese, province or Synod, will be wholly responsible for expatriates sent to it by the Society, for their employment (including the disbursement of the allowances provided by the society for their support) and for their material and spiritual well-being.”
(b) “There will; however, be both strong moral obligation and practical wisdom in consulting regularly with the society, as the sending Agency, on these matters”.
(c) “In the event of such consultation failing to yield agreement on a matter felt by the society or Missionary to be of overriding importance, it is, of course, taken for granted that the only course open as a last resort could be the withdrawal of missionary from that Diocese.”
(d) “Equally, a case might also arise where the Diocese itself felt compelled to insist on the society’s withdrawal of a missionary.”
While we regret this dramatic change of policy of the society, we can appreciate the wisdom that guided it. We have been assured that, the moral and spiritual relationships between us and the society, to whom we owe the existence of our churches and our christian up-bringing, shall not wane.
Transfer of C.M.S. property in Lagos
(a) Part of this will be transferred to Lagos Diocese, and
(b) The remaining part for the benefit of all the Dioceses in Nigeria.
We heartily offer our very warm congratulations to the following members of the Diocese:
(1) Chief S.O. Ighodaro, M.A., B.C.L., LL.B.; Honourable Chancellor of the Diocese; for his recent retirement from the service of High Court Judge of the Midwestern State. Justice Ighodaro has earned a good name and great respect, during his tenure of office as a judge. This is to our pride in the Diocese. For the Chief and Mrs. Ighodaro, we pray for good health and happiness.
(2) Revd. Dr. S..U. Erivwo and Revd. Dr. E.O. Okolugbo; for passing their final Ph.D. Degree Examination, in the University of Ibadan.
We wish them more success.
9. Indiscipline in Our Diocese
It will be recalled that at last synod meeting, I spoke of indiscipline and misconduct in Churches; when I cited instances from a sister Diocese. Little did I know that such examples I quoted, would so soon be found in our own Dioceses.
Our Ecclesiastical Court has been constituted to look into certain cases of this nature, that have recently come to the open.
Be it noted that, the theology of Ecclesiastical Tribunal is not so much to punish; but rather a means to correct the proud and arrogant offender: in order that he might learn, not to offend: and that others might see, and beware of their behaviours (compare I Timothy 1:19 and 20).
10. Diocesan and District Lay Readers
We have cause to thank God for the noble work of our Lay Readers. We will always remember them in prayers. Lay Readers, like Catechists and Church Agents have been indispensable partners and fellow workers with the pastors in-charge of districts. They act as Evangelists and teachers; and at times do pastoral visitations.
Simultaneously, we give thanks to God, for the services of our supplementary priests. They are helpmates to priests in-charge of large congregation, in administering the Sacraments. Some of them have been made to do more than that. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. We wish more qualified persons, to offer themselves. May the Lord bless the work of these voluntary faithful servants.
11. Religious Education in Schools
It is gratifying to note that our Government has not stopped Religious instructions in schools.
Our duty is to arrange for teaching of Religion at the specified time on the school Time-Table. Each Superintendent pastor is to see that this opportunity is utilized.
Evangelism and Evangelists
Reports of various Evangelical activities will be read to the synod by the evangelists. From my personal observation good work has been done in many areas and the progress of Evangelism in certain parts of the Diocese is very encouraging. Praise be to the Lord; for adding members to his Church, “day by day those who were being saved.” (Reference Acts 2/47).
12. The State Service
On Sunray, May 13, 1973, there was held a unique Church Service, when the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and his amiable consort, were present. The Head of State read the only Lesson from I Corinthians 15 verse 35 to end. Our Military Governor, Col. Ogbemudia, who had worked very hard to put the Cathedral Building into a decorative attractive show, was present with his wife. Governors from other states and dignitaries were in attendance.
We were deeply impressed and inspired in that service. The theme of meditation centred on a Good heart and Sowing good seeds. Cultivate good heart and you will be well in life. Sow good seed and you will reap good harvest.
13. The National Census
We appeal to all christians everywhere to cooperate with the census officers when they come to them for the countings.
You will lose if you are not counted. Your village will lose if you are not counted. Nigeria will lose if you are not counted. Therefore, for interest of all, make yourself to be counted and advise others to be counted too. Correct census is great asset to a nation.
A New Specialist Hospital is Born in Our State
On May 12 this year, her Excellency, Mrs. Victoria Gowon, our First Lady declared open our first-class Specialist Hospital in Benin, with tremendous joy. The hospital is already proving its worth. Travel there and see.
The following men have been admitted to Diaconate:
(1) Jackson O. B. Aki (2) James Aruoren (3) Joseph Orioma (4) Abraham O. Chikuni
(5) John W. O. Atikpe
The Ibadan Diocesan Divinity Hall
We are grateful to the Bishop of Ibadan for allowing four of our men to enter this Hall for one year training for their ordination. They are:
(1) S.O. Nwabuoku (2) S.B.P. Okole (3) G. Efi (4) T. A. Dania
15. Shortage of Priests
This subject has been extensively discussed in our Diocesan Board meeting. Dr. N.O. Azinge’s memorandum submitted and explained to the Board evoked serious discussion. There are two sides to this problem – namely:
(a) Shortage of qualified persons for training
(b) Question of funds to maintain resident priests.
We noted that out of 55 priests in the Diocese, 15 are supplementary, with 9,335 population of Communicant members (1971) and additions of about 2,000 every year, an average full time priest will have to look about 500 communicants in his widely scattered congregations.
Adding the non-communicant members and children which more than double the communicants in every Church, the pastoral work of one priest in-charge, becomes difficult. As recommended in Dr. Azinge’s memorandum, training and ordaining of more supplementary priests would be immediate solution.
A suggestion that we start Home study plus Ordination classes in every Archdeaconry will be tried as an emergency programme.
Pray the Lord of harvest that he may send labourers into his vineyard.
16. M.R.I. (Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence)
This is the scheme by which churches and Dioceses send aids to one another.
In the current year, we made grants to the following institutions outside this Diocese – Iyi Enu – new Hospital Ogidi, 100 Naira; and Ile Abiye Hospital – Ado-Ekiti 100 Naira.
And we have received from C.M.S. Frontier Fund, for Ebelle.Ishan Evangelical work – 2,280 Naira. The Japan Episcopal Church and an American Church, have promised our Riverine area Mission, substantial aids for Evangelical work in the area.
17. St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City
The Cathedral has been raised to full status of Cathedral, by special constitution passed at our meeting. Towards this end, Benin South Archdeaconry has been dissolved. The churches belonging to it, are to be transferred to Benin North Archdeaconry, which shall be called “The Benin Archdeaconry”.
The two Archdeacons, with representatives of their churches shall meet to effect this change and report to the Diocesan. Report of the Cathedral itself, will be read by the acting provost.
18. The Ordination of Whom to Priesthood
This subject was fully debated at the last Diocesan Board meeting. The Board by its Resolution, unanimously approved it in principal. Except you raise any question about it here it may not be discussed further.
19. Provincial Regulations for Establishing a New Diocese
This is a matter that may concern us in this Diocese, sooner or later. I therefore quote relevant parts of the Regulations:
(1) “The initiative for establishing a New Diocese may taken:
(a) by any portion of an existing Diocese which desires its formation; or
(b) by the Diocese/Diocesan.
(2) The area to be formed into the proposed new Diocese shall be a component unit not less than an Archdeaconry.
(3) The petition to the Diocesan Board/Standing Committee shall be supported by the result of voting in each District of the proposed Diocese.
(4) The petition shall be supported by proof that the proposed Diocese, if formed, shall be viable.
(5) The test of viability will be satisfied:
(a) if it is established from records of the Diocese that the churches within the area of the proposed new Diocese have been continuously viable for a period of five years.
(b) If evidence is available of their capability to assume additional financial responsibility, which the establishment of a new Diocese necessarily entails.
(a) Erection and furnishing house for the Bishop
(b) Deposit of his salary for the first year.
(c) The establishment of adequate funds for administering the proposed new Diocese.
(d) The provision of a car for the performance, by the Bishop of his episcopal duties.
(6) And further, the following particulars are to be forwarded to the provincial Synod, with the petition to create the New Diocese:
(a) a clear description of the territorial boundaries of the proposed Diocese.
(b) The name of the proposed Diocese
(c) The name of the headquarters of the proposed new Diocese.
(d) Evidence of the viability of the proposed Diocese.
(e) Evidence to satisfy the provincial synod that what will be left of the existing Diocese, will remain viable, if the proposed new Diocese is created out of it.”
The above for your information and study.
20. Women’s Work
This Synod by preference, will hear direct reports from each Archdeaconry women’s Conference leader.
21. (a) The Ole-Ezi and S.U. Sects
The questionnaire paper I sent out in March, produced much valuable information about these sects. That Ole-Ezi members pray and weep, cry and shout with loud voice; fall and roll on the ground; predict future events and pretend to heal the sick by laying on of hands; pray on bottles of water for healing. They forbid their members from taking any healing medicine, even to cure a sore. And some of them use Saturday for Sunday.
You will recall that at last Synod meeting, someone of this Sect, a Sunday School organizer in his Archdeaconry, read a report of his work, which turned out to be a list of persons he said were healed by him. You will remember the rousing indignation of Synod delegates, shouting on him to sit down. This man has since joined a sect, where he has been ordained a pastor.
Ole-Ezi Sect, has been banned in our Church since 18th June, 1972. The members were excommunicated from our Church, unless they come to renounce the sect openly in Church.
(b) The S.U. Sect
(1) Copies of Mr. S. Igein Isemede’s extensive report on this subject have been distributed to you. He is one of the S. U. Leaders in the Midwest. We shall listen to our comments in due course. He stated the aims of the S.U. as follows: I quote:
(a) To aid the christian church in its ministries by special services whereby the Word of God is presented, especially to children and young people, so that those to whom it is presented may be led to personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; may be encouraged and instructed in the development of Christian characters and witness, and in a sense of vocation; and may take their place as members and workers in life of their churches.” Unquote.
That is a grand and good ideal to be taught to our children and young people.
(2) from the answers I received from my questionnaire paper, I like to quote the followings about S.U. members.
(b) “Their leaders are being sent to secondary schools to inculcate their dangerous teachings on the students. Now they are claiming to be a movement within the Church; but I suspect that, one day, they will break away entirely after gaining much members.”
(1) The Anglican Church cannot teach you to be saved. There is no need to belong to a church since there is no Church in heaven. Just join the S.U. and believe in Jesus and you will be saved.”
(2) “The Pastor of the Church is not holy. He is a sinner and God cannot answer the prayers of such people. They drink beer, smoke cigarette and take snuffs. How can God answer the prayer of such people?”
(3) “Your Baptism and Confirmation are useless. They cannot say you, unless you join the S.U. and believe in Jesus.”
(4) “the youths are taught to disregard their Baptism and confirmation as just mere formalities, which are not necessary for salvation.”
(5) “those who joined S.U. claim to be holier than all other people.”
Note: The writer said that he gathered these information at a direct face-to-face dialogue he had with S.U. group of students. Someone stated in his answer to my questionnaire that S.U. and Ole-Ezi have the same tenets.
THE THEME OF THIS SYNOD IS “AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST” II CORINTHIANS 5/20
Believers in Christ Jesus, were at the first time, nicknamed “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11/26).
The profession and life of a christian gives him various nicknames:
(a) He is called “Soldier”, because of his warfare against sin, the world and the devil.
(b) He is called “Foreigner” to define his status in the world.
(c) He is called, a Pilgrim, to illustrate his life’s journey on earth.
(d) He is a servant, to mark him; a person under the command of a great Master.
(e) And in our theme of Meditation here, a christian, is depicted, an Ambassador – Representative of a great king, in a country, not his own. St. Paul says – “We are ambassadors for Christ – God making his appeal through us – we beseech you on behalf of Christ – be reconciled to God.”
The message of an Ambassador, from his King, is that of reconciliation not of war and hostility. We as ambassadors for Christ should proclaim God’s good will, love and peace towards men of good will. During the Synod, preachers selected to lead our thoughts, will tell us more of this big theme.
The Lord be with you and with thy spirit.
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BY THE RT. REVD. AGORI IWE, C.F.R., M.B.E., J.P.
BISHOP OF BENIN TO THE SYNOD OF BENIN DIOCESE: MEETING
AT WARRI ON JULY 13-18, 1974
1. Your Excellency, My Lord Bishop, Honourable Chancellor, Mr. Registrar, Legal Adviser, Medical Adviser, The Provost, Venerable Archdeacons and Canons, Brethren of the Clergy and Laity; Your Royal highnesses and Chiefs, Distinguished Guest.
Peace and mercy to all of you that are in Christ Jesus our Lord. The love of God be with you – the word of God grow in you.
We have the pleasure in welcoming you to our Synod.
The synod is an annual Conference of our Clergy and Laymen, from all parts of our diocese. It stands for the unity of all Churches of the Diocese, which are represented here.
We meet together for Christian Fellowship and prayers and Intercession. We meet together for deliberation and Counseling and Edification. Our business has been spelt out in details on the official programme you hold in your hands.
Reports covering various aspects of our work and activities shall be read, and some of these may evoke serious discussion and criticism – remember to speak the truth in love.
It has been the good custom of our Synod to move the venue from place to place, so that our christians might be aware of the Body that Governs their affairs; and that the Synod members might be conversant with the different ethnic groups which constitute this Diocese. Thus, the sense of belonging is enhanced and encourage among the christians.
St. Andrew’s Church, Warri, in which we meet today is one of the oldest and largest congregations in the Diocese. It was founded in 1909 by foreigners (Africans) who came here to work under the then Government as clerks and teachers in the Government school; The Native Court Building was used for church services until 1911 when a church was built, opened and dedicated for Divine worship.
The present church building is the second building, opened and dedicated in 1961. The congregation on Sunday is now about 3,000; and a second church has been built, and completed to be dedicated to St. Peter, for worship.
Here are some of my pleasant memories of St. Andrew’s Warri. It was in St. Andrew’s School that I had my primary Education; and from St. Andrew’s School, I entered St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, in 1924. It was here I and my wife were baptised, and here we got married. Here I was consecrated Bishop of Benin in November 1961. And not – “Memory strengthens, as you lay burdens upon it; and becomes trustworthy, as you trust it”.
2. During the Festival of Easter, we ordained 19 Deacons to bring them into the holy Order of Priesthood. Namely:
|(a) The Revd. G. Efi|
|(b) “ “ T. A. Dania|
|(c) “ “ S.O. Nwabuoku|
|(d) “ “ S.B.P. Okole|
|(e) “ “ E.A.M. Osemeikhian|
|(f) “ “ J. A. Oghenekaro|
|(g) “ “ E.E. Eboh|
|(h) “ “ C.O. Ikpirri|
|(i) The Revd. S. C. Modi|
|(j) “ “ T.F.O. Olugua|
|(k) “ “ R. K. Morhirhi|
|(l) “ “ F. A Garuba|
|(m) “ “ S.O. Ighodara|
|(n) “ “ G. C. Ugbebor|
|(o) “ “ E. C. Ugbolase|
|(p) “ “ J. D. Okpidama|
|(q) “ “ Dr. N.O. Azinge|
|(r) “ “ O. G. Awani|
|(s) “ “ M. Ossai|
Fifteen of those as worker-priests, having completed their course of study and passed the prescribed examinations.
It is encouraging to note that they were enthusiastically welcomed and honoured by their different churches where they have been posted to serve. Reports reaching us are overwhelmingly good and commendable.
More and more requests are coming from congregations to send such priests to work among them. These priests have had reputable good characters in the churches; and their selections were applauded. One of the essential qualifications of a man to be priest is that he would be acceptable to the congregation he is sent to work.
The encouragement we have got from different churches would make us to train and ordain more worker-priests. “For the harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few”.
With about 550 Church stations in the Diocese, we need more priests, as against the 80 we have at present to minister to them. Let us continue to pray the Lord of the harvest, that he may send more labourers into his harvest.
And finally, we charge all our priests to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
3. CONFIRMATION SERVICE
During the period under review, we conducted 31 Confirmation Services in the Diocese. A total of 2,167 candidates received the Laying on of hands:
1. Benin Archdeaconry …275
2. Ishan Archdeaconry …205
3. Urhobo Archdeaconry …387
4. Isoko Archdeaconry …489
5. Asaba Archdeaconry …531
6. Owan Archdeaconry …141
7. Afenmai Archdeaconry …139
“Defend O Lord, these thy servants with thy heavenly Grace that they may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more until they come unto thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.”
4. IN MEMORIAM
We remember then all faithful brothers and sisters who have passed away to be with the Lord. Their names are on the roll of Honour pasted on the Board. We will only mention a few here:
(a) Paul Oghoro Biabo, diocesan Lay-Reader
(b) P.A. Orhiakhi, Cathedral Choirmaster, who died on 15th September, 1973.
(c) Samuel Akita Asaboro, a Diocesan Lay-Reader.
(d) The Revd. S.I. Nwabuoku, retired clergyman of this Diocese, died 16/1/74.
To their families and relatives we express our deep sympathy.
The labourer’s task over. The battle day past; Upon the farther shore lands the voyager at last: Father, in thy gracious keeping leave we thy servants sleeping.
May their souls rest in peace – Amen.
Let us now rise for a moment’s silence in honour of these faithful departed.
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living waters; and God will wipe away every tear front heir eyes.”
NEWS FROM EPISCOPAL SYNOD
The retirement of two Diocesan Bishops has been reported from the Episcopal Synod. They are the Tr. Rev. S.I. Kale, Bishop of Lagos, and the Rt. Rev. L.M. Uzodike, Bishop on the Niger. We prayerfully wish them God’s blessing on the retirement.
Two new Bishops elect have been announced. They are Rev. Canon H. Haruna, for Kwara Diocese and Ven. J.A.I. Falope for Ilesha Diocese. We congratulate them, and wish them abundant grace to discharge the onerous duties of their high office of Bishop.
The following devoted and faithful workers have retired from active service of the Diocese:
(1) Rev. Canon F. E. Okwuadi (2) Mr. Jonah Amaiyo, Catechist.
We ask God’s blessings on them on their retirement.
6. STATISTICAL REPORTS
|Number of church Stations||549|
|Number of trained Catechist||43|
|Number of Church Agents||203|
|Number of Clergymen||80|
|Number of Communicants||20,882|
|Number of Baptised Adults||18,042|
|Number of Baptised Children||15,010|
|Details of these figures is pasted on the Board.|
7. INDISCIPLINE IN THE CHURCH
It will be recalled that at the last synod meeting, I stated that our Ecclesiastical Court has been constituted to look into certain cases preferred against two clergymen in our diocese. Those cases have been reviewed and the two clergymen were found guilty and sentenced to Admonition. It is our prayer that they may be granted the grace of repentance.
May I quote here what a brother Bishop said in connection with church discipline, “The church should be a little more watchful and more ready to apply discipline whenever it is necessary no matter who is involved, and due for such disciple.”
8. CONGRATULATIONS – NEW APPOINTMENTS
Our hearty and warm congratulations go to the following clergymen for their new appointments:
(1) The Very Rev. K.C. Edokpolo, appointed Provost of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City.
(2) The Venerable Archdeacon A.O. Headi, appointed Archdeacon of Asaba Archdeaconry.
(3) The Rev. Canon Dr. E.O. Okologbo
The Rev. Canon J.O. Eseheh
The Rev. Canon D.N. Ockiya
The Rev. Canon J.L.O. Dania
Made Honorary Canons of St. Mathew’s Cathedral Benin City.
For them all, we pray for good health and happiness, and God’s grace to enable them discharge their duties honourably and faithfully to the glory of God and his Church, and to their own blessings.
9. THE DISTRICT AND DIOCESAN LAY READERS
Our Diocesan and District Lay Readers have continued to show great devotion and enthusiasm in their work. We thank God for their noble work.
Later in the course of this synod meetings, we shall be hearing reports of Evangelism from our Evangelistic groups by Adam; Umale; Elabor and Samson and a man from Fugar. I wish to mention here that good work has been done and is being done in evangelism in various areas in the Diocese. We thank God for his blessings on the efforts of our Evangelists. “Proclaim the message, press it home on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient, use arguments, reproof, and appeal, with all the patience that the work of teaching requires”. I call on all the faithful members of the Church to be alert to the great task of evangelism. This should not be left to the clergy and our accredited Evangelists alone. The laity, by your vocation, as you live in the world, that is, in each and all of the secular professions and occupations – you live amid the ordinary circumstances of social life. To this you are called by God in order that by exercising your proper function, and being led by the spirit of the gospel, you may work for the sanctification of the society from within as a leaven. In this way you make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life radiant in faith, hope and charity. Since you are tightly bound up in all types of temporary affairs, it is your special task to order and throw light upon these affairs. Working in the world, you are to share in the apostolic mission which Christ gave to his Church. To make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through you it can be the salt of the earth. Note that every layman by virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at all times a witness and a living instrument of the Mission of the Church.
“Come labour on,
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain
While all around him waves the golden grain
And to each servant the Master say,
Go, work today.”
11. STUDENTS IN TRAINING
The fact that we have made a number of supplementary Priests and may have to make more of such priests does not preclude us from sending suitably qualified men for training in our theological colleges.
We have in training at Immanuel College, Ibadan Mr. J.E. A. Amaiyo, and Mr. P.I. Onekpe from Isoko and Afenmai Archdeaconries respectively. Mr Daniel U. Adube completed his course this last June and will be ordained shortly after this synod session. Mr. Paul U. Abode is also doing a short course – Ordination in Vining Centre.
At the Vining Centre, Akure, we have the following lay men training to be Catechists: –
(1) Mr. P.B. Okoh (2) Mr. J.E.S Ilabor (3) Mr. A.O. Kaku (4) Mr. So.O. Enaroje (5) Mr. L.A. Abiri (6) Mr. G.E.A. Okotie (7) Mr. D.C.N. Emordi (8) Mr. J.A. Uti
(9) Mr. L.A. Adjara (10) Mr. J. Oletukovie
I wish to point out that we have always found it difficult to have men from some parts of the Diocese offering themselves for the ministry of the Church as Catechist. This does not augur well for the future growth of the Church in these areas.
12. ST. MATTHEW’S CATHEDRAL, BENIN CITY.
The report of the Cathedral will be read in due course, suffice it to mention that the Acting Provost of the Cathedral has been made substantive Provost of the Cathedral by his appointment during synod Sunday service. Once again we congratulate the Very Rev. K.C. Edokpolo, Provost of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City.
13. WOMEN’S WORK
By our new policy, the women are to hold their Conference on Archdeaconry level for two years running and give their reports to the Synod. On the third year they hold the Diocesan Women’s Conference.
Reports from each Archdeaconry on women’s work will be read by their representatives.
14. THE THEME OF THIS SYNOD
The Theme of this Synod is “The ills of our nation” – Corruption; Bribery; Fraud; Falsehood; Smuggling; Forging of Certificates – to name a few.
Compare Isaiah’s message. Isaiah found his people in consequence of the long successful reign of King Uzziah, (2 Chr. 26: 1-15) highly civilized, wealthy and progressively prosperous, but steeped in social unrighteousness and idolatory. He sees the collapse of a society so obviously corrupt and foretells the judgement of God.
This topic has been treated on Synod Sunday Sermon and other preachers will elaborate on it during the synod morning devotion.
It is important to note here that whereas some people may think and say that the Church has failed, the fact remains that the Church has not failed. It is the people that have failed to hearken to the warnings and admonitions of the Church cf Matthew 11:17cf “we piped for you and you would not dance. We wept and wailed, and you would not mourn…God’s wisdom is proved right by its results.”
15. OUR MAIDEN DIOCESAN ALMANAC AND OUR MAIDEN MAGAZINE
For many years there has been a cry for the production of a Diocesan Almanac and Magazine, especially from the laity. The decisive moment came during the last synod at Agbor when an editorial Committee was appointed to work on this project. As you all have seen the maiden issue of our Diocesan Almanac was produced in April 1974. I hoped you have all bought your copies of this historic Almanac. If you have not by now bought a copy, there are some copies available for you here. Buy your copy and kept it, for it will be of great importance to your children and future historians will make much from it.
Our maiden Diocesan Magazine is now out and in the same way I commend it to you to obtain your copy. This and the copy of the Almanac will go into the archive of the Church for research scholars in the future.
16. OUR EVANGELICAL MISSIONS
We have in this Diocese three evangelical Missions, namely, The Riverine Mission; Ebelle Mission, and Fugar Mission.
Reports from each mission area will be read later at this synod. News reaching us however indicate that much progress is being made in the various areas. We are grateful to the evangelists and their groups and pray that God may crown their efforts with greater success.
“O’er the heathen and pagan lands around
Thick darkness – the darkness of sin broodeth yet:
Arise O morning star
Arise, and never set.”
17. THE YOUTH ORGANISATION – TEACHING ETC.
We pay tribute to the Rev. Canon Dr. E.O. Okolugbo, Rev. T.O. Uwoghiren and the Rev. Canon J.L.O. Dania for reactivating our Youth Organisation, especially for the training course arranged for Easter season this year. About two hundred young people from all over the diocese attended the five day residential Leadership course from Monday April 8th to Friday April 12th 1977. The participants were awarded certificates at the completion of the course by the Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe, C.F.R., M.B.E. J.P., Bishop of Benin, in St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City. More reports about the Courses will be read later in this synod. Reports reaching us from the Districts show that the youths are taking great interest in their work by running Sunday Schools and other Church activities. May God bless them and their leaders.
18. OUR FINANCES
I am glad to report that our finances have improved during the year under review. The stronger Districts have maintained their strength and stability while some of the weaker ones have arisen out of their slumber and facing up to their responsibilities. An extract from the Auditors’ report reads thus “Response to payment of assessment has improved during the year. Special mention should be made of Iuleha in Owan Archdeaconry, for paying up her debt of N1,112, plus N471 assessment for 1973. We congratulate the people of the District”
We admonish those Districts which are still sleeping to wake up and move with the time or else time will move without them. “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work.”
19. CHURCH BUILDING
We notice with joy the efforts of many congregations in this Diocese in putting up new modern Church buildings to replace their old out dated churchbuildings. This is a mark of improvement and progress for when completed we can worship God in the beauty of holiness.
I would however, warn that this should not be an excuse for not paying assessments. Workers’ salaries must be paid promptly and regularly to enable them work with less anxiety for food and clothing. See to it that salaries are paid first before Diocesan and Archdeaconry levies after which buildings can be constructed. May God grant you his blessing and grace to will and to do all these things.
20. NEW PUBLICATIONS
I wish to recommend to you a book “Introducing Christian doctrine” written by Mr. John Q.S. Phillips, B.A. LL.B.P.G.C.E. Diocesan Religious Education Adviser, Niger Diocese.
I recommend it to all Clergy, Catechists, Teachers and all engaged in christian education. You will find it very useful in preparing your religious lessons and sermons.
Also, here is “Notes on Bible Reading” published by the International Bible Reading Association. I wish to introduce it to you and encourage you to use it in your daily Bible reading. The representative in Nigeria is Mrs. O.S. Banjo, P.N.B. 5298, Ibadan, Nigeria. Obtain your copies from her.
Another book I want to bring to the notice of the clergy is “The Parish Priest at work.” This is a book you must all possess.
21. THE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDCUATION SCHEME
We hail the Universal Primary Education Scheme proposed by the Federal Military Government. We will encourage and support it, and pray for its success.
We would however, now as before advocate for the provision whereby religious and moral instruction should be given to our children in all schools. It is to be noted that when society throws away certain fundamental religious and moral values, men always resort to violence to get their way, and gun to maintain discipline. And unless men chose to live by absolute religious and moral standards in their personal and public lives, and seek for God-governed men to govern their affairs, the nation is doomed.
“From politics without principle,
Pleasure with Conscience,
Wealth without work,
From knowledge without character
Industry without Morality
Science without Humanity
And worship without sacrifice
Good Lord deliver us”. Amen
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BY THE RT. REV. AGORI IWE C.F.R, M.B.E., J.P., BISHOP OF BENIN TO THE SECOND SESSION OF THE 6TH SYNOD OF BENIN DIOCESE HOLDEN AT ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH ASABA ON JULY 10-15. 1976.
1. Your Excellency, My Lord Bishops, Honourable Deputy Chancellor, Mr. Registrar, Legal Adviser, Medical Adviser, Education Adviser, Honourable Treasure, The Provost, Venerable Archdeacons and Canons, Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, Your royal Highnesses and Chiefs, Distinguished guest, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is our great pleasure to greet you and to welcome you to this second Session of the Sixth Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Benin, meeting here in all Saints’ Church, Asaba. May God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ mightily bless each one of you: and may blessing, joy and peace of heart be your rich gifts from God our Father.
2. OUR THEME
The Theme of our Synod this year is “The Christians’ only weapons” are PRAYER, FAITH, AND LOVE. In our age today so many things happen and are happening. The question that is being asked is, what is the Church doing, what has the Church done and what can the Church do to arrest the situation? The topic has been deliberated upon during synod service on Sunday and other preachers will elaborate on it everyday during the synod morning devotions. Hold fast to this, that “the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy stronghold.” We do not fight with weapons of flesh, our only weapons are prayer, faith and love, these are strong enough to demolish fortresses. You can legislate and close down all the drinking houses and brothels in the country, you can patrol all the high ways in the country with armed soldiers and police men and so on. The leaders of the nations will hurry from one summit conference to another and issue one joint communique after another yet there will still be the wave of crime and corruption. Argument and cleverness will not destroy human greed, pride and wickedness; but e utter simplicity of heartfelt sincerity – in Prayer, Faith and love.
3. WE MORN THE LAST GENERAL MURTALA RAMAT MUHAMMED
On February 13th 1976, our Nation was thrown into great grief and mourning because of the untimely death of our great and beloved Head of State General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, Head of the Federal Military Government Commander – in- Chief of the Armed Forces. He was assassinated by a group of treacherous and unpatriotic individuals who however since then have met their own end. Services were held in our churches to mark the end of seven-day official mouning period declared by the Federal Military Government. We are sure that did not end the mourning, for every now and then we recall some of the things he stood for and we suffer what a great loss his death is to the Nation. You will no doubt agree with me that in his short time of office he salvaged this country from the position of purposeless drift and launched it on a new pedestal with a sense of purpose and direction. This was General Murtala Ramat Mohammed, a gallant and courageous soldier who during the unfortunate civil war in this country staked his life to liberate the Midwest State now Bendel State, yea, Benin Diocese. Benin Dioces join the millions of Nigerians to mourn the loss of this great Nigerian.
We thank God that in his place Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo has stood to continue in the footsteps of Murtala Ramat Muhammed as he himself said. “I will continue in the spirit with the task of Nation Building with a spirit of complete dedication”. Let us pray for men of courage, honesty and dedication to lead this country: – O God, give us men; A time like this demands strong minds great hearts, true faith, and ready hands. Men whom the lust of office does not kill; men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; men who will not lie; men who stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking. Tall men, suncrowned, who live above the fog in public duty and private thinking; through Jesus Christ our Lord – Amen.
4. CONFIRMATION AND DEDICATION
As we reported last year the confirmation services were not held in 1974 but in 1975 we took all the confirmation services and a total of 3,271 persons were confirmed in the Diocese:
1. Afenmai Archdeaconry …284
2. Asaba Archdeaconry …902
3. Benin Archdeaconry …375
4. St. Matthew’s Cathed. ….61
5. Ishan Archdeaconry …210
6. Isoko Archdeaconry …785
7. Owan Archdeaconry ….96
8. Urhobo Archdeaconry …550
9. University of Benin ……8
On Sunday 25th April, 1976, St. Peter’s Church, Igbudu-Warri was dedicated.
On Saturday 27th December, 1975, the feast of St. John Apostle and Evangelist, Rev. Peter I Onekpe and Rev. Gabriel Aghazeta were made priests and Samuel Dumbili and Samuel Adaghara were ordained Deacons in St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City. This year we look forward to ordaining 20 Deacons and two priests. Two men are at the moment training in Immanuel College, Ibadan for ordination while ten are in Vining Centre, Akure doing their Catechists; course. Your prayers are asked for these men.
6. NEW APPOINTMENTS
We congratulate the following for their new appointments. On December 27th 1975, the Rev. Canon G.I. Kerry was appointed Archdeacon of Ika Archdeaconry. The Rev. Dr. N.O. Azinge, Rev. Dr. P.E.I. Nwabuoku, Rev. T.O. Uwoghiren were made Honorary Canons of the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew’s Mr. Justice A.O. Obaseki, Registrar of the Diocese, was appointed Acting Judge of the Supreme Court during the year; and Mr. Justice Chief J.A.P. Oki was appointed Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Bendel State.
The Ven. B.P. Apena, was appointed Chairman, Isoko liquor Licensing Tribunal. And the Rev. Canon Dr. N.O. Azinge has been elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (FRCP). It is our prayer that God may endue them with grace sufficient to discharge their duties creditably to the glory of God and to the welfare of our people.
7. LAY READERS
We have been receiving many applications from well-meaning and devoted christians from all over the Diocese to be made Lay Readers. This is a very good sign but we have to limit the number; this more so as we are looking forward very soon to the division of the Diocese. We are always proud of the men who are already serving in this category, our admonition is, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for so much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
8. YOUTH WORK AND SUNDAY SCHOOL
As usual the report of Youth Work will be read in due course, we have noted with satisfaction the way they are handling our Sunday School, and say well done. “For I rejoice greatly, even as thou walkest in the truth, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.” (3 John 3,4)
9. WOMEN’S WORK
The Diocesan Woman’s Conference was held during the year in Ekpoma, Ishan Archdeaconry. The report of this and the reports on Women’s work in each Archdeaconry will be read by their leaders.
10. NEWS FROM THE PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA
The 15 Dioceses in Nigeria are all agreed in thinking and saying that they ought to become a Province, and the Church of the Province of West Africa has approved of the creation of a Province of Nigeria. When the Province of Nigeria is created, the Dioceses of Sierra Leone, Accra, Gambia and Rio Pongas, and Kumasi will remain in the mother Province. The Diocese of the Episcopal Church of Liberia had been formally accepted as an associate member of the Province.
Two new Bishops have been elected for the two new Dioceses of Egba/Egbado and Ijebu. They are Rt. Rev. Jonathan Soremi Adeniyi to the Bishop of the new Diocese of Egba/Egbado; and the Very Red. Isaac Bandele Omowaiye Akintemi to be Bishop of the new Diocese of Ijebu. Consecration and Enthronements have been fixed for August 1976.
The Bishops of the Province in Convocation issued the following letter under the leadership of the Holy Spirit: -“Pastoral letter issued by the Episcopal Synod of the Church of the Province of West Africa at Ibadan Nigeria on the 10th February, 1976.
PASTORAL LETTER TO ALL THE FAITHFUL IN THE
CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF
WEST AFRICA GREETINGS
We the Bishops of the seventeen Dioceses in Gambia Sierra-Leone Ghana and Nigeria meeting in Synod at Ibadan on the tenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventy-six send you greetings. Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
GROWTH OF THE CHURCH IN THE PROVINCE
Twenty five years ago when the Church of this Province was formally inaugurated the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most Rev. Geoffrey Fisher, said, “we trust that that in the days to come this new Province will become the mother of Dioceses and of more Provinces as it grows and increases.” At that time there were only five Dioceses. Today there are Seventeen Dioceses which will stretch from Senegal to Nigeria. Of these up to fifteen are in Nigeria alone.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury said while preaching the inauguration sermon in April 1951 the Province of West Africa has indeed become the mother of new Dioceses and is now about to become the mother of the Province of Nigeria. The Provincial Constitution also makes provision for subdivision into Provinces. We therefore thank God for all this growth and the opportunities for new relationships in which the old links are retained.
THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
The growth of the Church is not limited to physical size or geographical expansion. Far more important is the spiritual growth and maturity bearing in mind the apostolic traditions by which the church began and developed. The Bishops by virtue of their office as successors of the Apostles are in duty bound to hold, preserve, and propagate the Church as the Body of Christ of which we are members. It is in this spirit that the number, of Dioceses has increased to the present stage to warrant the formation of another Province while at the same time retaining the links which ensure the wholeness of the Body of Christ.
The Church therefore is under obligation to maintain its one, holy catholic, and apostolic nature in which “there is no question of Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman; but Christ is in all” Colossians 3:11. If St. Paul were alive today he would have gone to add that the Church of Christ is one in which there is no question of indigenes or non-indigenes sons of the soil or expatriates. Rather it is “One Body and one spirit, as there is also one hope held out in God’s call to you; one Lord one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”. Ephesians 4:4f.
THE CHURCH FOR ALL AGES
The Church is a large family which embraces all ages of men and women, boys and girls. Throughout its history the Church in West Africa has endeavoured to minister to all and sundry, to involve them in the task of evangelisation, and to keep before them their duty of loyalty to the Church. We urge that young people be encouraged to continue to witness to their faith in Jesus Christ. Conscious of the value of their informed insights, we recognize the need to involve the youth more directly in decision making in both secular and ecclesiastical society.
We cannot but refer to our former pastoral letter issued in 1972 in which we warned the faithful against the disruptive influence of secret societies or cults which directly or indirectly conflict with the religion of Christianity and interfere with total Christian allegiance and unalloyed commitment to Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Church. We are pleased that in recent times the youth, the press, and others have shown considerable awareness of the dangers in these secret cults. We still maintain that our loyalty to Christ should be undivided, total, absolute.
Finally we are conscious of the alarming inflation of our time coupled with the stresses and strains of modern life. Yet we take this opportunity to assure you of our concern and prayers for guidance that a solution to the problem may soon be found. Always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “In the world you will have trouble. But courage: The victory is mine; I have conquered the world.” John 16:33.
11. FUTURE OF BENIN DIOCESE
During the last Synod we reported that applications have come from Warri and Asaba areas praying the Synod to approve the creation of separate Dioceses of Warri and Asaba. And as we hoped, the Synod then sitting in the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew Benin City, unanimously approved and passed a resolution and recommended same through His Grace, the Archbishop to the Church of the Province of West Africa for approval. We are happy to report to you that the Church of the Province of West Africa has approved the creation of the separate Dioceses of Warri and Asaba out the present Benin Diocese, and has passed this on to the Standing Committee of the Province for implementation. The Provincial Standing Committee and the Episcopal Synod shall deal with this in August.
Everyone has by now seen and heard of the wonderful progress that is being made throughout the Diocese by our Evangelists. Their reports will be read during the Synod Session. We still raise the cry and call on all to wake up to this great task of evangelism in fulfillment of our Lord’s command. Go ye therefore, and make disciples. As we have always said, it is your task and mine to bring Christ to our people and to bring our people to Christ.
“Come, labour on!
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain,
And to each servant does the master say,
Go, work today.
Come, labour on.
The toil is pleasant, the reward is sure;
Blessed are those who in the end endure;
How full their joy, how deep their rest shall be;
O Lord, with thee” (J.W. Franck).
13. DISPOSITION OF CLERGY
(1) Ven, A.O. Ifeadi moved from Ubulu-Uku to All Saints’ Asaba.
(2) Ven. C.A. Echenim from All Saints’ Asaba to Christ Church Obiaruku.
(3) Ven P.O. Ejodame posted to Okpe in Afenmai Archdeaconry.
(4) Rev J.O. Aruoren from St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City to St. John’s Ughelli.
(5) Rev. J.L.O. Dania took up appointment in St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Benin City.
(6) Rev. W.O. Umejei from Owa-Ute District to Ubulu-Uku District.
(7) Rev. T.G. Otubue from St. Andrew’s Agbarha-Otor to St. Luke’s Sapele
(8) Rev. J.W.A. Atikpe from St. Luke’s Sapele to St. Andrew’s Agbarha-Otor
(9) Rev. S. Dumbili to Idumuje-Ugboko District
(10) Rev. S.O. Nwabuoku from Idumuje-Ugboko to Holy Trinity, Asaba.
(11) Rev. P. I. Onekpe to St. Paul’s Awuyemi, Okpella
(12) Rev. S. Adaghara to St. Michael’s Emevor.
At the last Diocesan Board meeting two of our senior clergy gave notice of their retirement at the end of this year. They are the very Rev. K.C. Edokpolo. Provost of the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew, and Ven. B.P. Apena. Archdeacon of Isoko Archdeaconry. It is our hope that the Diocesan Board will arrange fitting send-off for both of them. We thank them for their valuable services and wish them happy retired life.
With deep mourning we announce the death of the following whom we miss so much. Their names are on the list of Honours on the Board. Here we mention only a few:
(1) Ven. J.A.O. Emoefe (2) Mr. Joshua Oghenekaro (3) Mr. Agustus Omokaro Ogiugo (4) Pa. S.O. Orhewere, retired catechist, aged over 100 years (5) Mr. John Arieleno (6) Mrs. Okwaudi wife of Canon F.E. Okwaudi (7) Mr. Victor Ehanire son of our treasurer
Saint Paul said, I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers; in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in the heights or depths – nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Father, accept our praise and thanksgiving for the lives of all thy faithful people who have served thee on earth and are now at rest. Grant that we too may dedicate ourselves to thy service, following their good examples, and share with them thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Number of Church Stations … … 459
Number of Clergy … … 89
Number of Catechists … … 46
Number of Church Agents … … 203
Number of Lay readers: (a) Diocesan 56
(b) District 127
Number of Communicants … … 25,182
Number of Baptised Adults … … 22,242
Number of Baptised Infants … … 18,510
Number of Enquirers & Catechumen 11,195
Number of Membership … … 77,467
A Chart showing figures in each Archdeaconry is on the Notice Board.
17. OPERATION FEED THE NATION
We heard and read of Operation Feed the Nation. The Church foresaw this twenty-five years ago when the Rural Training Centre, Anwai, Asaba was established and the gospel of feed the people was first preached by the Rev. Prior. Then many local farmers were instructed and advised to take to food production in the impetus from our Rural Training Centre, Asab. We hope Food the Nation Centre” to produce more food than ever before. We call upon the Board of Governors of the Rural Training Centre to take note of this. We are sure that before the synod rises on Thursday every one of you will make a trip to R.T.C. and see for yourself what is going on there. Make sure you copy something to take away with you to your towns and villages and thereby play your personal part to make the operation feed the nation a huge success.
We will conclude this address with the thoughts of our theme for this yea’s synod – Looking back to the comparative calm of the past good old days and comparing it with today, in this year of our 1976, with society’s preoccupation with all things material and sensual, and the rule of the oilboom, we can see the tops of the mountains of Christian morality and good ness like islands in the waste of the water of human greed and fraud. We have today the full measure of the roaring inflation; the moral break-up of so many of the old and trusted values and standards, with one hand we call for the revival of our culture and with the other we break our valued culture. Yes, we have no more difficulty in reading the handwriting on the wall. But the christian need not dismay, for the supreme assurance remains that the Gates of Hell cannot, and will not prevail against the eternal truth. True in this world there will indeed be much tribulation, but our hope is set on the knowledge that Christ bids us to be of good cheer for He has already overcome the world. Yes, our war is not fought with weapons of flesh, yet they are strong enough to demolish fortresses, these are PRAYER, FAITH, AND LOVE.
Non one can read the addresses of Bishop Agori Iwe to his Synod, without being moved and convinced that Agori Iwe, was spirit filled, spirit led, and a mighty man of valour in the Church of Christ. He was bold and fearless in the defense of the Faith, whose custodian, he as a Bishop, was. And so he, after quoting innumerable instances of the promise of our Lord’s second coming, and after reminding us about the earlier promises about his birth, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension all of which were fulfilled, posed the challenging question.
‘Well now, my follow Christians. Shall we break faith with those early christians, in the blessed hope of our Lord’s second coming? If we do, we may be numbered with the infidels God forbid.”
This crystal clear Christian and Biblical position is patently in contradistinction with the position taken by some in the 1960’s (i.e. Agori’s contemporaries in the episcopate) and in the 1980’s. As in well known, following the consecration of one of such persons as Bishop at the Cathedral in York in Britain, the very spot where the consecration took place was destroyed shortly after by lightening. And there were those who could not but interpret the incidence as expression of divine disapproval.
Indeed can we reject the bodily resurrection of Jesus, his ascension, cost doubt in his second coming, as many, even Bishops, do these days, and still claim to be christians? That is the crucial question which the Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe posed to his synod in his presidential Address of 1969. If we break faith with early Christians, we may surely be numbered with the infidels. “God forbid” is the Bishop’s prayer.
True, Bishop Agori Iwe throughout his ministry on earth, served His master conscientiously and with undivided loyalty. Only few can equal his leadership qualities. He was loving, but firm, he taught his flock unceasingly, to be dedicated to the cause of Christ, and in his last Synod the theme of which was
“The Christians’ only weapons are Prayer, Faith, and Love”.
He left the flock Christ entrusted to him in no doubt that He who he called them is faithful and is able to keep them to the end. In his words,
“True, in this world there will indeed be much tribulation, but our hope is set on the knowledge that Christ bids us to be of good cheer for He has already overcome the world. Yes, our war is not fought with weapons of flesh, yet they are strong enough to demolish fortresses, these are PRAYER, FAITH AND LOVE.