Skip to comments.Nigeria: Over 20 New [Anglican] Dioceses to be inaugurated in 2007
Posted on 10/31/2006 4:29:02 PM PST by sionnsar
The Church of Nigeria pushes on with the mission to disciple as many as God grants amongst Nigeria's large population. To this end, the last Standing Committee of the church held in September in Port Harcourt, Rivers State approved the establishment of 19 new missionary dioceses and advised 7 other regions to go through the normal process for the creation of full fledged dioceses.
The proposed dioceses are Awgu/Aninri and Ngwo from Enugu diocese, Ikwo, Afikpo and Ngbo from Abakaliki diocese, Ogbaru from On the Niger, Etche from Niger Delta North, Isiala Ngwa South from Aba,. Kotangora from Minna, Zaria from Kaduna, while Jos diocese will produce Bukuru and another diocese encompassing the communities in Pankshin / Langtang / Shendam / Yelwa and Wase areas.
Others missionary diocese are Etsako and Akoko-Edo from Sabongidda-Ora diocese, New Bussa and Omu-Aran from Kwara, Ajayi Crowther and Oke-Ogun from Oyo, whilst Ifo will come from Egba diocese.
Other communities considered for missionary dioceses but were deemed to have enough Anglican presence to support full fledged dioceses include Festac/Ojo in Lagos-West, Nike in Enugu, Aba Ngwa North and Isiala Ngwa in Aba, Ikole Ekiti in Ekiti, Egba-West in Egba diocese and Ekiti-Kwara in Kwara diocese.
The inauguration of the missionary dioceses and consecration of their bishops have been slated for March/ April next year while dates for the full fledged dioceses will depend on when they complete the new diocese creation process. This process involves getting their individual synods to approve the splitting of the diocese, organize funding for the proposed diocese, put in place some organizational structures like the diocesan offices, Cathedral and residence and finally get the national approval at a Standing Committee or General Synod meeting.
Missionary dioceses on the other hand usually come about based on a perceived need to evangelize a wide area and effectively empower the missionaries and fledging churches with dedicated Episcopal supervision from the start.
The only other major concern for missionary dioceses is funding and sponsors are sought for to provide at least N3 million Naira annually for three years after which the diocese is expected to become self-reliant.
History of Missionary Dioceses
When the Church of Nigeria became an independent province in 1979, the entire northern Nigeria was administered as a diocese with headquarters in Kaduna. Today, the region is comprised of three Provinces and twenty seven dioceses with more to come. "The spread and growth of the church in the previously Muslim and Animist communities had been aided by the establishment of missionary dioceses" says Archbishop Akinola whose Abuja diocese started off as a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria but is now a fully self sustaining and self propagating diocese from which two other dioceses have been craved out over the years.
The Dioceses of Jos and Kano were created from the Northern diocese in 1980 and in 1989 the Abuja mission was inaugurated as a diocese. The major push however came during the Lambeth declared 'decade of evangelism' as the then Archbishop Adetiloye led church decided that no state, community or tribe should be overlooked in the evangelism effort. Dependence of the missions on the busy and greatly overstretched bishops was slowing things down while the rate of growth of the newly inaugurated dioceses was alarming.
With the leading of the Holy Spirit, the church embarked on missionary dioceses with the focus of developing the Anglican Christian presence into such that can stand as a diocese within three years. The stringent requirements for viability of the diocese were relaxed and others were encouraged to support the mission work in the new areas.
Eight such dioceses were inaugurated in Northern Nigeria in September 1990, two in the Niger delta region,1990 and 1992 and by 1996, the success of the northern dioceses led to the establishment of five more missionary dioceses there to cater for yet unexplored areas.
Until recently, most areas south of the country refuse missionary diocese with a Nigerian pride of "We can support a full one by ourselves." A recent experiment in Umuahia south-eastern Nigeria has however shown that this is an impediment to evangelism, and there is now a loud clamor for missionary dioceses from the largely Christian south.
In 2004, the diocese of Umuahia identified three missionary areas which were inaugurated as missionary dioceses in March 2005. The bishop of Umuahia Rt. Rev I. N. Nwosu reported to the next General synod that the missionary move has resulted in the establishment of thirty four new churches in the four dioceses within six months! Bishop J. C. Onuoha, one of the missionary bishops corroborating the report said the major handicap is finance as he has requests from other village heads who now want churches in their domain.
Finance has been the major handicap and some schools of thought express fear concerning the sustenance of the dioceses. Others think the establishment of dioceses is based on perceived ambition of some clergy for positions. Archbishop Akinola would have none of this. "Funding is not my problem. My Father in heaven owns the earth and He has said GO! The provision of funds should not be my problem but the Sender's. The work is His, the Glory is His. God wants the Gospel preached and people discipled for Christ. We are expected to 'Go' and be trusting and faithful." He said while charging everyone to prayerfully seek God's leading and direction to the resources God has provided for His work instead of 'celebrating laziness' because of lack of funds.
Election of Bishops
On personal ambitions, Bishop Onuoha said that should not be a problem. "No person can nominate himself for election as a bishop. My own election was a surprise to me. I did not even dream my name would be nominated not to talk of election. In fact, the constitution and canons of the church makes it difficult for ambitious self-servers to become bishops." He said missionary bishops are more of field evangelists rather than the urban diocesan administrators who wield power and influence. I did not covet this position and I do not think anyone who understands the task and associated weight would do so.
The process for the election of the bishops for the new dioceses has begun with letters written to the concerned Advisory Committees to meet and forward to the Primate in writing the views of the Committee in general terms on the qualifications (including level of education, parish experience, commitment, acceptability, etc.) required in the Bishop to be elected for the consideration of the Episcopal Synod.
Such views are then forwarded to all members of the Episcopal Synod for prayerful considerations before a meeting is conveyed for the election. Other election details are available online in the Canon IV of the Election of Bishops.
Good work in spreading the faith, Christian brothers.
Anglicanism isn't dead by a long shot, whatever the state of two or three of its smaller (if wealthier) churches...
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