Archbishop, Province of the Niger and Bishop of Awka diocese (Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim PhD, JP, on Sunday collated 5 Archdeacons and installed 11 Canons at the Cathedral Church of Saint Faith, Awka.
The Archdeacons Collated were Revd. Canon Christian Afamefuna Chilotam Chinwuko; Revd. Canon Rex Chika Kanu; Revd. Canon Nehemiah Ikechukwu Ugoagu; Revd. Canon Goodness Benjamin Okechukwu Amaechi; and Revd. Canon Ekenedilichukwu Wilfred Nwafor.
The Canons- elect include: Revd. Samuel Ezunu; Revd Bonny Okechukwu Ogaraku; Revd Nnamdi Chukwudi Ajaoku; Revd Ndubuisi Victor Ahanonu; Revd Timothy OkwuChineke; Revd Royce Umezulora; Revd Valentine Mbachi; Revd Samuel Ginikanwa; Revd Fidelis Ibezim; Revd Sunday Ike and Revd Prof Benjamin Osisioma.
Addressing the congregation shortly after the collation and installation ceremony, Archbishop Ibezim described the role of Archdeacons in the Church as the eye of the Bishop in an archdeaconry, while he described a Canon as a yardstick used for measurement of service to the Church.
Archbishop Ibezim, who is also the Bishop of Awka, urged the ministers to be focused in the service of the lord, even in the midst of challenges. He said that God called them to be soul winners which they must do through hard work in the Lord’s vineyard.
Speaking shortly in an interview later, Archbishop Ibezim said, ‘Today is All Saints Day. November 1, 2020, we collated and installed Canons and Archdeacons. The priests that were collated today are priests of integrity. They are priests that have worked hard in their various parishes and so we preferred them in Canons and Archdeacons.
‘The ministry is passing through challenging times, so we encouraged them not to lose focus. There are so many things that make servants of God to lose focus which, chief among them, is hardship. When the environment is hostile, it is very easy for the minister to lose focus.
‘So we challenged them today that no matter what is happening around them, they must focus on their ministry and what Christ has called them to do. Christ has called them to be soul winners; that is the primary aim of being in the ministry. There are many things that we need to work hard in order to live up to the expectation that God requires from us.
‘So today, being All Saints Day, we used it to remind them that many have succeeded as saints so they have no reason to give why they did not succeed.’
Bishop Ibezim reminded them that family played a vital role in the ministry and urged ministers to solidify their marriages, be strong in the ministry and work as a team so that God would use them as role models in the ministry.
In his sermon earlier, Right Reverend Festus Oyetola Sobanke charged Christians and Church ministers to be faithful in the service of the Church and humanity.
Revd. Oyetola who is the Bishop of Omu- Aran Missionary Diocese, described faithfulness as being full to what one believed, adding that one of the major things that caused setbacks in the ministry was unfaithfulness to God, Church authority and in all areas.
He said there were so many things about God Christians could not understand because the Christians were losing sanity due to their unfaithfulness to God.
Reminding Christians that success in life was a product of hard work,
Right Reverend Oyetola further charged Christians to be patient and persevere because, according to him, God did not create everyone equally.
‘What some people achieved at the age of 20, same others achieve at the age of 40,’ he said, while however urging ministers to work for their master which was God and not for selfish purposes, stressing that a ministry would cease to be the day the ministers began to celebrate themselves instead of the Almighty God, as, according to him, God owned the ministry and not priests.
He warned ministers to avoid obstacles to fulfilling the purpose of the ministry by avoiding pride, envy, discouragement, which, according to him, were the things that killed the ministry of God.
He charged them to work as servants and not to carry the office on the head and reminded them that the devil was destroyed because of pride.
He further urged the ministers to prove their accountability to God as everyone would give an account of their lives on earth. He said that a lot of ministers died and the devil was happy because they failed to fulfill their purpose, either as a result of pride, or others, advising them to remove pride from their lives, irrespective of the office they occupied.
The Provincial President, Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild and Girl’s Guild, Province of the Niger and Diocese of Awka, Anglican Communion, Mrs Martha Chioma Ibezim, advised the wives of the newly collated and installed ministers to remain faithful servants of God in the ministry, adding that they should support their husbands and remember their roles as home builders.
She said, ‘The men may not be there to take care of the house but it is the duty of the wife to fill the gap and make sure that the home is what it should be to have an effective ministry.’
Speaking to newsmen after his installation, Revd Canon Prof Benjamin Chuka Osisioma who retired from Nnamdi Azikiwe University as Professor of Accountancy, said the new portfolio was not a matter of position or status but a commitment to work of the ministry, and a greater commitment to the service of God.
Ven Nehemiah Ikechukwu Ugoagu while thanking God and Archbishop Ibezim for the opportunity to serve more, called on his colleagues in the ministry to be good laborers in God’s vineyard.
Also, Revd Canon Samuel Chukwuka Ezunu, while thanking God for the elevation, said it was not easy to be a Canon but a standard or a measurement rule.
Ven Dr. Kanu Chika Rex urged colleagues in the ministry to work hard and wait for their own time as God’s time was the best. He said that an Archdeacon was expected to be an administrator, helping the Archbishop and being the eye of him in their Archdeaconry and parishes.
The highpoint of the occasion was the Oaths of canonical obedience, allegiance to God and vow against homosexuality and bisexuality administered by the Awka Diocesan legal team led by Diocesan Chancellor, Hon Justice O. J. Okeke (SAN) to the new Archdeacons and Canons.
Also featured was the decoration of vice presidents and wives of Archdeacons by Provincial President and wife of the Archbishops/ Diocesan Bishop Mrs Martha Chioma Ibezim.