By Emma Onumah
The Anglican Bishop of Owerri, the Rt. Revd. Chukwuma Chinekezi Oparah Ph. D, JP, has declared 2019 as a Year of Divine Expansion.
Bishop Oparah gave this prophetic declaration in his message at the Cross-Over Night Special Service, held at Christ’s Anglican Church Owerri on the night of Monday, 31st December, 2018, to usher in the New Year, 2019.
He declared that Nigeria, in no distant time from now, would be a celebrated nation.
The Prelate, who noted that there is nothing too hard for God to do, gave the assurance that God would raise all who believe and worship Him from the position of servitude to freedom and expansion, drawing his text from Exodus 14:5-19. He added that when the grace of God locates you, He would make the power of the enemy powerless.
Fear not, he said, the Lord would in this new year see all of us through, despite all odds.
The service which was conducted by the Archdeacon in-charge, Christ’s Church Archdeaconry, Owerri Ven. Zion Ngoka featured wonderful testimonies and melodious renditions, as the two lessons of the special service, drawn from Isaiah 65:15b-25 and Revelation 21:1-6, were taken by Mrs. Chizor Ngoka, wife of the Archdeacon, and Barrister Ken Opara respectively.
Meanwhile, 2018 Annual Get-together of retired Church Workers in the Anglican Diocese of Owerri has been held with a call on serving clergymen in the Diocese, not to forget their retired colleagues when they receive goodies emanating from thanksgiving services in their respective churches.
The get-together thanksgiving/Holy Communion Service which is usually held on the first Sunday of every New Year, took place at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri last Sunday, conducted by the Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Chinekezi Oparah Ph.D, JP. and assisted by the retired Church Workers Chaplain, the Reverend Chima Iwuchukwu.
Addressing the retired priests/church workers, Bishop Oparah who centered his talk on “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD (Ps. 23:1)”, noted that every worker, be it in the Lord’s Vine Yard or in the private/public sector, would one day retire, and should therefore endeavor to make his/her retirement period rosy, comfortable, and worth moving into.
The Prelate, who posited that it should be a blessing to go on retirement, used the occasion to congratulate the retired church workers for their efforts and enviable achievements while in office, such that have been able to keep the church of God in the Diocese waxing stronger and stronger, adding that, they should rise to the challenge of advising and letting their children know the benefits of working till retirement.
Unlike stories which, according to him, people used to peddle in time past, about lack of security in church work, he assured the serving church workers in the Diocese of the security of their work, provided they show seriousness and evidence of hard work in their respective places of deployment.
He enjoined them to relate well with one another and to trust in God, adding that both serving and retired ones are all important and a blessing to the church.
Bishop Oparah used the opportunity to announce that Diocesan Clergy and Wives’ Retreat has been scheduled to hold from Tuesday 15th to Thursday 17th January, 2019 at the Orlu Anglican Diocese Retreat Centre, Dim-na-IMume, Isu, Nwangele L.G.A, Imo State.
As he re-stated the intention of the Diocese of Owerri, to recruit 50 (fifty) Church Teachers, to man the new churches that are expected to be planted in the Diocese this year, the Prelate asked the retired church workers and the other faithful in the Diocese, to encourage their children, who have the calling and are trainable for the priestly vocation in the end, so as to facilitate the plan to expand the gospel of Christ in the Diocese.
Earlier, at the Eucharist service, the CATOL Administrator, Ven. Dr. Akajiaku Chukwuocha, who in his sermon, which he cautioned: “Christ is Life and Light of Men (John I:4), urged Christians to let the light shine in and around them, such that darkness would but comprehend or overcome it, in every aspect of their lives.
He noted that, the lack of light in the lives of many people today, has continually heightened the level of embezzlement of government fund by both civil servants and politicians, increased the rate of corruption in all sectors of the economy, examination malpractices, sexual immorality and other devices, thus making way for darkness to prevail, even in the ongoing 2019 electioneering period on which he observed that all manner of people are now being fielded for political positions, stressing with regrets, that the system has refused to produce righteousness and righteous people.
The Administrator prayed that God would eschew darkness in the hearts of His people, particularly those at the helm of affairs in this country, so as to better the developmental strides of the nation and enable it compete favourably with other nations of the world.
In a brief interview, one of the retired priests present at the occasion, Ven. (Engr.) Obioma Okere, who said this was his first outing at such an occasion since his retirement, expressed delight that the get-together has given the retirees a sense of belonging, as many of them, he noted, had the opportunity to express their opinions about the state of affairs in the Diocese, including giving testimonies about God’s goodness to them and members of their families. The retired Archdeacon prayed for the sustenance of the new visions of the Diocese towards the welfare packages being unfolded for both retired and serving staff of the Diocese.
Elder Cathechist Timothy Ononiwu of Nazareth Anglican Church, Ohohia Mbieri, in his comment, described the get-together as better organized this time around than the previous years, as everyone present at the party, he noted, was given one form of gift or the other, even where couples were involved.
In her own comment, the wife of late Rev. Gaius Echefu, Dame Jane Echefu, said she would be going home happier than she came, because of what she described as promise of security for the church retirees, and the encouragement given for them to bring forward their children who show interest to be trained as priests, irrespective of what course they are pursuing in the higher institutions.
The retired church workers present at the annual get-together included Venerable Emmanuel Oparah, Ven. Etheberth Nzeako, Ven. (Engr.) Obioma Okere, Rev. Canon (Arc.) Dennis Nkachukwu, Rev. Can. Christian Ogbugh with their wives, and many others.