By Emma Onumah
A one-day Retreat for all staff of the Bishop’s office and the Women Ministries, Anglican Diocese of Owerri, with the theme: “God First” has been held at the Hall of Parise, Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri.
Speaking at the first session of the Retreat, the Priest in charge, Amaulu-Mbieri Parish, the Rev. Canon Innocent Agunanne, who spoke on the topic “The Worker and His or Her Spiritual Life/’ drawing his text from Genesis 1, charged the staff to always allow God to lead them in all that they do in life, so as to make a marked difference out of it.
Canon Agunanne, made reference to Matt 6:33, and counselled the staff to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, in order that all good things from Him will be added unto them.
He emphasized the need for them to commit their ways unto God, and to be prayerful at all times.
Making further references to the Holy Bible, including Ps. 34, Ps 37:25, Neh. 1:11, Neh. 2:20, Esther 6:6, etc., the Cleric assured them that, whoever among them exhibits acts of righteousness and keep good relationship with God, would never beg for food nor be in very serious want all his/her life.
The Parish Priest, also advised them not to work with grudges, but put joy in all that they do, be it for God or for humanity.
Addressing the participants during the second session of the Retreat, the Archdeacon in charge, Ibeama Ogwa Archdeaconry and Vicar of Ebenezer Anglican Church, Ekwereazu, Ven Chukwudum T. Onwuka, who captioned his lecture: Divine Expansion and Great Expectation, enjoined the retreatants to endeavor to always walk with God, but warned that, for this to happen, there would always be an agreement between them and the Lord and Master, whom, he said, is also the Alpha and Omega.
According to the Archdeacon, when we place God first, every other thing would fall in line, stressing that whatever they do as workers in the vineyard, they should not only apply wisdom at work, but do it as unto God, their Creator.
He emphasized the need for them to work as a team, and to eschew slothfulness, and gossiping,” as well as avoid making wrong entries as to when they clock in and out of work regularly.
The Vicar condemned what he described as “official lies”, laxity, greed, wastage of man-hour, while at work.
Speaking about the need to punish recalcitrant and erring staff, as a deterrent, he also posited that it is necessary to institute adequate rewards for hard work.
The Clergyman enjoined them to join hands with the episcopacy for the realization of the corporate goals of the Diocese, to enable the Diocese move forward.
In the course of his lecture, the Archdeacon made several Biblical references, which include John 4:19, 1 Cor. 15:20, John 9:4, Col. 3:17-23.
In a brief open forum, conducted by the Clerical Synod Secretary, and Archdeacon in-charge, Uratta North Archdeaconry, Ven. Chike Anthony Samuelson, the staff raised some issues which, in their own opinion, were militating against their performances at work. They, however, expressed profound gratitude to the Bishop and Management, for mounting the retreat for them, after a very long time.
In his reaction, the CSS, noted that, most of the issues they had raised in the open forum, regrettably did not address the issue of their spirituality at work, on the basis of which the retreat was organized, but rather, issues of welfare that needed to be looked into vis-a-vis the administrative policies and conditions of service of the Diocese.
He gave thanks, first to God, and to the Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah Ph.D JP, for directing that such a retreat be held for the staff, and explained that the Bishop’s absence at the retreat was unavoidable, as he was reportedly away to attend a National EFAC Conference holding at Otulu Nnewi.