By Sam Eyoboka
THE Church of the Pentecost (Anglican Communion), established shortly after the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC ’77—a month-long assemblage of African gods and goddesses and idols from across the globe—roled out drums recently in celebration of 40 years of outstanding accomplishments in the spirit as well as the physical realms.
Besides the spectacular display of colours and the atmosphere of conviviality, the church also launched a book titled; “Mustard Seed of Faith: History of Church of the Pentecost (Anglican Communion), Festac Town”, chronicling how the Anglican Communion dared to bring Christianity to an emerging community that has just been infested with demons from far countries, bringing with it spiritual liberation for the new occupants of the estate.
The 256-page book supervised by the current Vicar of Festac Archdeaconry, Ven. Israel Omotunde Owoyele, painstakingly outlined 40 years of impactful activities of the church from its humble beginning till date, not forgetting to highlight the after effects of Festac ’77 on the nation and how the church helped to deliver Nigeria from such negative effects.
Another highlight of the occasion was the award ceremony where Nigerians who have contributed to the nation’s development including current Anambra State governor, Mr. Willy Obiano, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson, Olorogun Oscar Ibru, Dame Rebecca Aikhomu, Mr. Sunny Anaughe among others were acknowledged.
Addressing newsmen, Ven. Owoyele, said excitedly: “I feel great; giving glory to God that I’m the vicar when the church clocked 40. Within one year, this building, which cost hundreds of millions, was expanded without having to borrow from anybody nor indebted to any bank. We were able to achieve such strides because church members were so committed.”
The vicar maintained that some of those who ignited the flame 40 years ago have died, so “we felt that we need to put something on records for posterity and that is where the idea of compiling a historical book on the church came from. I thank God for the people He has given to me. They are so committed and as I opened my mouth as an oracle of God, they listened, believed and followed me and what we are seeing today is a testimony.”
Asked to speak on the state of the nation, Owoyele said: “The Nigerian nation is pitiful. When you look back to when we were growing up, we grew with the fear of God in us. But this present generation lack the fear of God and that is why you see people doing all sorts of evils. For instance, how can somebody just enter another person’s house and murder the children, father and pregnant wife and even open her womb and bring out the unborn baby? And then the government is helpless. How can some people break the wall into a school and kidnap the school children and yet the government is helpless in locating them?
“How can Arewa youths announce that Ibos should leave the northern states within three months? Where is Nigeria then? How can people abandon money in bureau de change and nobody can identify the owner? How can money be loaded in cabinets in a building and yet they cannot identify the owner? Who owns these monies? Can money just grow up there? It’s pitiful! And the most pitiful is that government is even perverting justice. They negotiate with terrorists. All these problems are caused by our leaders due to their greed and the lack of fear of God,” he roared angrily.
“We can go back to God by listening to God’s voice. The voices we have been listening to all this while are the voices of men and the voices of men are of Satan and that is why such voices are loudest but the voice of God is succulent, you need to be patient and attentive before you can hear it.”
According to him, Nigeria is still redeemable, pointing out “God loves us so much. If what has happened in this country happens in another country, it will be no more. So if we go back to God, He will do for us what no man can do and then His glory will return to us in this nation.”
Earlier the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West, Rt. Rev. James Olusola Odedeji, who preached the only sermon of the day, said the Church owes a duty to ensure peace and unity in the nation. “The Church is to ensure that Nigeria is worth living in and that where ever you originated from, you should be able to find your foot wherever you find yourself and that is the way to go.”
Commenting on the significance of the theme of the anniversary, “From Glory to Glory”, Odedeji said: “This church started 40 years ago as the first church in Festac Town. It started soon after Festac ’77, which was a kind of cultural and idolatry event but when the church started, the glory of Festac was restored, the place has been opened up ever since and the former evil associated with place has vanished.
“So they have moved from the level they were before to a higher level of success. And for this nation too, it is going to be alright, so we should not be discouraged. God can still help us to get to our promised land,” urging Nigerians to remain together and be prayerful, while everyone contributes his/her own quota to ensure that the country becomes better.
Asked when the Festac Arch-deaconry would be qualified to become a diocese, the bishop said: “It is a matter of time. Nobody is denying it and it will be our joy when that comes, but the creation of a diocese is not in anybody’s hands. It is a sensitive issue and we have to be very careful about it.”
Chairperson of the anniversary Planning Committee, Lady Adenike Okudoh, explained that part of responsibility of the co-mmittee was to further raise funds for the building of a children’s Sunday School hall as well as a modern hall that can eventually be a source of revenue to the church and reduce the financial pressure on parishion-ers.
According to her, the also plans to build a modern multi-purposehall that can be a source of revenue to the church and reduce the financial pressure on parishioners.
One of the awardees, Prince Ifeanyi Okezie, a Geologist, who described himself as a ranking member of this church said: “I have been undaunted in my fellowship in the church and God has enabled me to do a lot of things for Him,” urging other members not to be reluctant in using their resources to propagate God’s work. “There is blessing in giving. Once you give; it will be given back to you in great measure.”