Our gathering here at this epoch making event of assembling faithful Egba Anglicans residing in Lagos together for the courses such as sharing fellowship as Christian brothers and sisters, formally receiving our diocesan Bishop as an entity outside the shores of Egbaland, being afforded the information about the present state of development going on in the Church in Abeokuta and its environs; being intimated with the vision and mission of the present administration in Egba Diocese, intimating us with the celebration of the existence of the Diocese for forty years, an anniversary tagged RUBY and soliciting for your maximum support for the diocese especially on the issues raised above.
Quickly, let me remind us that the Diocese of Egba (Anglican Communion) was inaugurated on August 3, 1976 and St. Peter’s Church, Ake, the first known organized assemblage of Christians in Nigeria becoming the Cathedral and our revered father, the Rt. Revd Jonathan Soremi Adeniyi, B.A., OFR was enthroned as the pioneering Bishop. Birthing a Diocese is not an easy task, Baba J. S. Adeniyi successfully midwifed this as Egba/Egbado Diocese. Baba retired after nine years of episcopacy, first as assistant Bishop in Lagos Diocese/Archdeacon of Egba/Egbado (1971 – 1976) and as the pioneering Diocesan Bishop (1976-1979).
The Rt. Revd. Titus Ilori Akintayo succeeded him in 1980. During his episcopate, the Diocese of Egbado (now Yewa) was carved out as an independent diocese in 1990. Another landmark achievement of Baba Akintayo’s tenure was the construction of a new Cathedral building within a very short time of about four years.
To the entire diocese, the new cathedral building was a gift for the celebration of the tenth year anniversary of the diocese in 1986. These, among many other recorded achievements attesting to the physical and spiritual developments are legacies left to the diocese by the Rt. Revd. T. I. Akintayo. After his exit in 1994, the Rt. Revd. Mathew Oluremi Owadayo Ph.D was elected, consecrated and enthroned as the third Bishop of Egba in 1995.
On assumption of office, he worked assiduously to put the diocese on a higher pedestal than he met it. His episcopacy was full of monumental achievement as he increased the number of churches, hence the numerical growth of both the worshipers and ministers. He also built a state of the art kind of Bishopscourt. In his time, the diocese celebrated its Silver Jubilee Anniversary with the gigantic structure of an Event Centre built to mark the anniversary. The popular Omolaja Sodipo Memorial Anglican School and Anglican Women Nursery and Primary School were also established. These are schools performing excellently well and standing shoulder high with other institutions of learning in Ogun State and in the Nigeria. OSMAS is in the first ten percentile of Secondary Schools in the country. 103rd in the Country, 9th in Ogun State and 1st in Abeokuta Educational Division. It was during the episcopate of the Rt. Revd. Dr. M. O. Owadayo that the diocese was further restructured and two new dioceses were carved out as Ifo Missionary Diocese and Egba West Diocese respectively. The evidences of the ministry and episcopacy of Bishop Owadayo and Mama Owadayo abound all over the Diocese.
These three men of Great God were and are giants in their own rights. Bishop J. S. Adeniyi, a Fourah Bay College Graduate with the Dunelm (Durham) University Baccalaureate of Arts, an Educationist and Christian Educator, Principal of first generation schools in Nigeria, Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta among others. Baba was a Missionary per excellence. Bishop T.I. Akintayo, an epitome of discipline and cleanliness. A man of great faith, and very courageous. Baba Akintayo was a prayer warrior of great repute. Bishop M. O. Owadayo is a sound Church Historian, a Teacher of Pastors, a seasoned Church Administrator, a Pastor and friend of his Parishioners. Baba is a classical Preacher and Teacher of the Word.
The trio were and are fathers. Baba Adeniyi was my father both at home front and in the Church, he confirmed me in 1978. Baba Akintayo adopted me as a son into the church ministry and recommended me for Pastoral training and seminary education in 1990. Baba Owadayo received me in the seminary fashioned out this character as a minister for ordination, and I served him as the Provost in the Cathedral in 2006.
Divinely, favour smiled on me to succeed them as heir to the Bishopric of Egba. What else can we do after these great bishops (workers) in God’s vineyard? The works are almost finished, we have to struggle with the remnants. But Christ says ‘the field is white (and wide), the harvest is ripe, pray that the Lord of Harvest should send labourers into the field for the harvest’. These our fathers had planted one part of the field or the other, what is left for us is to water, that there may be good yield at the end. They have bequeathed to us a large diocese to maintain, but we do not see ourself as maintenance pastor only but another worker. Thank God for the vision He has given us as template to work with in the diocese
The Diocesan Vision and Mission Statement (8 Nos.) are stated following
Egba Diocese exists to holistically preach the Gospel of Christ to reach the entire Egbaland, to enable it to recover its primary status as the agent for disseminating the message of salvation in order to make disciples for Christ and to bring social transformation to our immediate community and the nation.
To pursue holistic ministry among the members of this Diocese in particular and the people within the See in general; employing diverse evangelistic means such as outreaches, revivals, crusades and church planting in parishes and locality found necessary.
To help every member of this Diocese to be true Disciples of Christ, well grounded in the WORD (Bible) and living out the same to display true Christian virtues and influence others unto right living.
To lead a Church that has regard for other denominations, especially those with the common Christian purpose of fulfilling Christ’s injunction ‘that they may be one’; bringing all to the knowledge and love of God.
- THE YOUTHS
To bridge the gap between the youths and the adults of the Diocese by creating a conducive atmosphere for the youths to express themselves as full-fledged members of the Church and for the Church to be responsible enough to proffer solution to the quest of this up-coming generation of its membership.
- THE CHRISTIAN PARENTS
To encourage our young ones (male and female) to solemnize their relationship the Christian way by undertaking the Christian rites of marriage and sustaining the same as a life-long contract; and to support such couple to practice positive parenting.
- THE AGED AND THE VULNERABLE
To give more attention to the welfare of the aged, children, orphans, widows/widowers, indigents and other vulnerable groups (both in the church and our immediate society), being their voice and treating them with much concern and dignity.
- ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
To provide our members (especially the youths and those in the sub-urban areas) with information that will boost their economic prowess; exposing them to employment opportunities, linking them to profitable outlets of their products and increasing their productivity through provision of social amenities, agro-allied services and the likes. The Diocese will continue to expand its economic base by increasing its investment in long term and profitable ventures, thereby reducing the financial commitments of our churches to the Diocese.
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
To create awareness among its members and the immediate society about the importance of sustaining a healthy and conducive environment by educating them on hygienic living; disseminating necessary information about proper waste disposal, preservation and recreation of a true ecological environment, sponsoring and actively participating in activities that will reduce pollution; thereby curbing the breakdown of the ozone layer which results in serious health challenges.
THE HAND ON THE PLOUGH WITH OUR CO-LABOURERS
Thus far, since our resumption as the Diocesan in October 2009, God has led and still leading us in these areas:
In the area of evangelism, as God laid it in our heart, the number of churches in the diocese has increased with not less than sixty new churches and worship centres. Some of these churches can now boast of their structures, some have their buildings under construction, some have acquired land but still scouting for fund to build and some are meeting in residences of our members and on hired facilities.
Some of the completed and dedicated structures are:
- Andrew’s Church, Hilltop Anonymous Donors
- Olufunso Gbadebo Memorial Anglican Church and Vicarage Prince Adeyinka Gbadebo
- St. David’s Anglican Church Vicarage, Bode-Olude Prince Adeyinka Gbadebo
- Church of the Healing Cross, Kemta Idi-Aba Chief & Chief Mrs. Soga Ogundalu
- Barnabas Church, Oloke Members/Donors
- John’s Church, Oluwo Members/Donors
- Stephen’s Church Vicarage, Efon Adanri The Hon. Justice Ayobode Lokulo-Sodipe JCA
There are some already scheduled for dedication in the course of the Ruby Anniversary later this month and in August this year. They are:
- Anglican Church, Igbari Ake Village Ven. & Mrs. P. K. Kehinde
- Ceiling of St. John’s Church, Aberuagba Chief Dotun Oyewole Family
- Christ the King Anglican Church, Ijemo Agbadu Land Dalley Family
- Anglican Church of Nativity, Abule Oloni Oba Michael Aremu Gbadebo and Friends
- St Luke’s Church, Osara Chief Wale Jolaoso
- Jude’s Church, Ikija Members
- Women Organization Girls Hostel, Mawuko MU/WG
- Abeokuta Girls’ Grammar School, Onikolobo, Science Block and Library OSMAS Fund
Other churches and Church projects under construction are the following:
- *The Cathedral Church Tower O. P. Otolorin/ Christian Social Union
- Anglican Church of the Annunciation, Ilugun Olope The Most Rev. A. D. Akinde
- Emmanuel Anglican Church, Osara II The Cathedral Church of St. Peter
- Oba OyebadeLipede Anglican Church, Olokuta Estate, Idi Aba Lipede Royal Family
- John’s Church OluwoKemta Members/Diocese
- Jude’s Church, Ijeun Members
- John’s Church, Igbein Members
- Mary’s Church, Ijaye Members
- Church of Advent, Saje Members
- John’s Church (Vicarage) Oluwo, Onikolobo Members
- BJAMAC, Kuto Members
- Christ Church, Ijemo (Church Extension) Members
* The Cathedral is a cynosure in the Diocese, this project cannot be owned by individual or a society but it should be a joint responsibility of all. I supervise this project and I passionately appeal to us at this time to join hands with us to complete the tower quickly and not make it an abandoned project. It has the Spire, the Tower Clocks, the Elevator and the coverings with plastering left. At completion it is a Ten floor structure that will accommodate an Ecclesiastical Museum. The sum of fifty million naira (50million) is still needed for its completion.
In the Diocese, we now take the issue of discipleship with every seriousness, it is ensured that there is common Bible topics and themes being taken every week with adequate preparation collectively made by the priests and evangelists monthly. This is to further strengthen the spiritual development of our ministers and the members.
We sustain good relationship and fellowship with other Christian Organizations such as the CAN, CCN, and of importance is the Egba Day of Prayer, that we Co-ordinate at the moment. This is a group of all Church denominations that organize prayer times and crusades within Abeokuta and its suburbs. This organization has been in existence for more than thirty years and has the Alake of Egbaland as its Patron. We pray for the spiritual interventions in matters affecting the city of Abeokuta and the entire Egbaland, the indigenes, the state and the country. This is a body of watchmen and intercessors.
Many youths fora have been introduced into the Diocese to afford out youths opportunities to have Christ-based fellowship and to help them grow into true Christians and right citizens of this country. We have in the diocese the League of Gentlemen and the Ladies Guild – These associations are to accommodate our young graduates that are bachelors and spinsters for Christian fellowship instead of losing out after Boys’ and Girls’ Guilds during years preceding their marriage.
The Diocese is doing everything within its reach to support our youth in attaining excellent heights in their academics. Recently a Youth Resource Centre/e-Library was built and donated to the Diocese by Lekan Adesoye Foundation (LAF).
Various programmes are run as outreaches to these groups. Regularly, candidates are sent to PAF Youth Centre for skill acquisition so also at Majolaogbe Foundation Centre. There are empowerment programmes.
For maturity and true Christian parenting, there is the Young Christian Couples Fellowship. The membership is made up of young couples that are not more than five years in marriage.
Also, attention is being offered to the Aged, Widows and the Widowers, Orphans, Physically Challenged and the infirmed. We thank the Moses Adekoye Majekodunmi Foundation for the vision conceived to erect a modern Clinic in memory of Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi; the proprietor of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos and the former Otun of Egbaland.
Egba Diocese is equally seriously involved in Agriculture and allied businesses. We also offer to our members, distribution of improved seeds and seedlings. We assist our rural dwellers and farmers in marketing their products.
In this area of agriculture, the diocese could boast of 35 Hectares of Palm Plantation and 104 Hectares of Forest Conservation apart from other farmlands for arable crops production. In the same vein the following are other ventures in operation in the Diocese – Egba Dove Poultry, Egba Dove Piggery, Egba Dove Ranch, Egba Dove Palm Oil, Egba Dove Gari and Egba Dove Water as part of our contribution to National Food Security and as means of making the Diocese Self Sustaining and Self-Reliant financially. The Diocese has taken sustainability of healthy and conducive environment a priority. Our contributions include educating our members and our neighborhood on hygienic living and disseminating information on health matters.
My dear people of God, it is with a humble heart that we are asking for your support in all its ramifications for the diocese to be able to achieve all its desired goals. Let me mention the efforts of Chief and Chief Mrs. Olusegun Osunkeye in ensuring that Egba Diocese is financially stable and self-sustaining. They have built a four-bungalow Court (Residential) for the diocese for commercial purpose apart from the donation of a block of 4 flats made by Mama, our Diocesan Mother, Chief Mrs. Abosede Osunkeye to the diocese. This donation is unique and first of its kind in the history of the Diocese.
Let me acquaint you with some of our efforts to push the diocese forward but with some financial constraints. I mentioned earlier that more than sixty new churches have been founded in the diocese but many are without structures, I wish we can have more of our people adopting these churches for development individually or as joint venture for the Lord. These are between N10 million and N25 million depending on location and size.
To God be the glory for the new office complex for the Bishop. It is one of the projects to be commissioned along with Olusegun Osunkeye Court to mark the Diocesan Anniversary but we are yet to procure its furniture and Air conditioner fittings. Painting and internal decoration works are still pending, due to lack of fund. The poor power supply in the country has nearly crippled the works and activities in the Bishopscourt, there is need for a 150 KVA Generator to supply power to the complex. The entire Bishopscourt needs to be put under surveillance of security gadgets – CCTV and accessories.
Human needs are insatiable, our requests could be endless but we need to be modest. Whatever God lays in your heart, please do, for God loves a cheerful giver.
To crown it up, your Diocese is 40 years now and the Anniversary is being celebrated with pageantry. We are here with some of the souvenirs for you to buy at affordable prices. Also we have brought with us here fliers for the programme of events with invitation cards to the anniversary. We will be looking forward to your participation in our arrays of programmes. May I say PLEASE re-establish your link to your home church. As part of this Ruby celebration there will be book publications on Egba Diocese in Forty years, a compendium and a membership yellow page book that will contain names of all our members (home and abroad) that are alive during this celebration. Since you are here today please endeavor to collect a form, fill and return with it just N1,000 and the book will be delivered to you using your contact address, with no other charges.
CONCLUSION AND APPRECIATION
May I at this juncture express my profound gratitude to you for making it a date with us today. We appreciate our father and mother in the Lord: the Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola (the former Primate of All Nigeria) and Mama Susan Akinola, our standing encrouagers and guides, the Most Revd. Prof. Adebayo Dada Akinde and Mama Bassey Akinde for accommodating us within their Diocese us while we visited our members in Lagos, also for their and their magnanimity in hosting this forum.
My thanks and appreciations go to all the members of the planning committee of this programme– Ven. Folarin Sobo, Ven. Femi Ososanya, Revd. Canon Nathaniel Oke, Rev. Canon Tunde Adenekan, Rev. Emmanuel Fadipe, Mrs. Folasade Adetiba, Chief Folu Solanke, Mr. Titus Okunroumu, Mr. Seyi Osunkeye and Mr. Yode Delano. May God bless you and enrich you munificently.
Our dear people in the entourage of the Bishop from Abeokuta, God Bless you.
God bless Egba Diocese, God bless Egbaland, God bless Nigeria.