· Okrika Anglican Diocese begins Synod with theme: ‘We Wrestle Not’
By Ignatius Chukwu
The Anglican Diocese of Okrika, Rivers State, seems angry that the Church as a body is not praying enough.
This is why the diocese has interpreted wrestle in the spirit to mean waging war which means prayer warfare.
For this reason, the Synod of the Diocese starting on Thursday is devoted to prayers, thus ‘When Synod Prays’.
According to the bishop, Right Reverend Enoch Atuboyedia, the greatest strength of the body of Christ is prayer needed to break yokes and turn situations.
He said at a press conference on Tuesday, 02 May 2023, intended to announce the Synod, the top cleric said the Diocese was keeping the tradition of the Anglican Church worldwide to be strong on ‘ecumenical initiatives’.
He said from 2004, “We started having our Diocesan Synod and Saint Peter’s Cathedral Church, Okrika, hosted the first session of the first synod. Thereafter, other institutions have been hosting the synods of the diocese.
“This year, the Cathedral Church will be hosting the second session of the 7th Synod of the Diocese of Okrika.”
The Bishop declared: “It is starting from Thursday, May 4, 2023, to Sunday, May 7, in the year of our Lord, 2023, with the theme: “We Wrestle Not”.
Explaining the import of the theme, the Bishop said: “We decided to choose the theme of the synod because we believe it aptly describes the Church in our present generation.
“Talking about ‘wrestling’, it is all about praying, it is all about being involved in spiritual warfare. It is open to all of us that the Church today is doing less praying. So, we decided to come up with a theme: ‘We Wrestle Not’, to say that as a Church, we are not praying as we ought to pray.
“We believe that the guest preacher during his address on Saturday at the synod, greater light will be shown on the theme of this year’s synod, to awaken all of us as believers, all of us as Nigerians, to stand on our ground and pray for our country, to pray for the Church and for us to pray for our various communities, for peace, for unity and for love.”
Giving a background, he said
He said the Cathedral Church has a very long history since 1878. “In 1881, the church was officially named by Bishop Ajayi Crowther.
This year, the church will be marking 146 years of existence and centenary of St Peters Church (Sept 1923). It was built in one year.
“By 2024, we will celebrate the centenary of the building. From the beginning, it was built to serve as headquarter. At a point, most churches in the area were under the Okrika Church. Okrika archdeaconry was Diocese in November 2003. Our premier bishop, Tubokosemie Robinson Abere (retired), was consecrated on Sunday, November 16, 2003.”
He said Synods started in 2004. “There is need to pray for the people, the community, for progress and for concord. It is also important to mention that we have not been folding our hands. We have a court we can call our own and other facilities, all to the drive of the retired, Abere.
“There are few other things we are doing as a church such as a scholarship scheme, 15 university students so far. Also, the Diocese trained 269 persons in various skills. We have a Medical scheme for all the clergy to go for full routine checkup. We implore them to make use of this.”
On housing, he said they have launched a scheme for all workers where each cleric would pay N20,000 while the Church will pay N1m per year. Workers are to pay N10,000 per month. “By 15 to 20 years, all clerics and workers would own their houses.”
He said the Diocese is building a befitting secretariat and that the proceeds of the synod would go to the project.
He stated thus: “The Guest Preacher, Rt Rev Stephen Oni, Bishop of Ondo. Will pay courtesy visits to traditional institutions in Okrika. “We are expecting many visitors, Gov Nyesom Wike, local council chairmen of Okrika and Ogu/Bolo are expected among with others.
He reiterated that the Church exists for prayers, but distraction is much. “We want to drag back attention to prayer. When Synod Prays is the title of the prayer. It wants to show what happens when the Synod prays.
“In ecumenical movement, every turn of event starts from the Anglican Communion. So, now, prayer is the focus. The church will achieve it.”