By Chukwudi Ikpe
The week-long activities marking the 60th anniversary celebration of the Anglican Diocese of Owerri were rounded off last Sunday with a thanksgiving service at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri.
The colourful service, which was presided over and conducted by the Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, Ph.D, JP, witnessed a large turnout of people including eminent Anglicans and other dignitaries from the state and beyond, who had come to celebrate with the metropolitan Diocese.
In an explosive sermon during the service, the Bishop of the Diocese On the Lake, Rt. Rev. Chijioke Oti, commended the founding fathers of the Diocese for their efforts pointing out that, at 60, Owerri Diocese has grown tremendously, giving birth to 12 Dioceses that make up Owerri Province.
He concentrated his homily on the gospel, which he described as light to the world and reminded the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese that God has placed them there to do His great work.
Bishop Oti charged the faithful in the Diocese and Christians in general not to allow the light which has been handed over to them to be extinguished.
He also charged the faithful to engage in serious and sincere prayers, preach and teach undiluted gospel and live exemplary lifestyles in order to sustain the growth of the church.
The Prelate went ahead to emphasize the importance of raising converts, through discipleship, to carry on the gospel to the next generation.
He equally charged the Diocese to be wary of its position in the state and to be at the forefront in speaking out against bad governance.
Bishop Oti extended his charge to those in position of authorities to rule with the fear of God.
The first lesson of the service from Exodus 19:1-8 was read by the Chancellor of the Diocese, Hon. Justice Lady Evelyn Anyadike, while the Registrar/Clerk of the Diocese, Sir Chukwumah Ekomaru (SAN) read the second lesson from 1 Corinthians 3:5-13.
Highpoints of the service was the cutting of the anniversary cake as well as presentation of various categories of awards to distinguished Anglican personalities.
The Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was honoured with the award of ‘AN ANGLICAN ICON’, while a former Governor of the state, Sir Ikedi Ohakim and the immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Prince Eze Madumere received the ‘DISTINGUISHED AWARD OF EXCELLENCY’.
Also honoured with the ‘DEDICATION TO SERVICE AWARD’ were Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Rt. Rev. Cyril Okorocha, Ph.D (Rtd), Rt. Rev. Chidi Oparaojiaku, Ph.D, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Maduwike JP, Rt. Rev. Chijioke oti, Jp, Rt. Rev. Bright Ogu (Rtd), HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri, Hon. Justice Lady Chioma Nwosu Iheme, Hon. Justice Lady Evelyn Anyadike, Sir Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN), Very Rev. Obasi Okere, Sir Martin Ebe, Sir Kingdom Akwuka, Sir Israel Ekezie and a host of others too numerous to mention.
Among those that received the ‘DISTINGUSIHED AWARD OF EXCELLENCE’ were Dr. Lady Angela Uwakwem, Prof. Lady Adaobi Obasi, Barr. Sir Abed Anyadike, Prof. Austin Awujo and a host of others.
The service also featured especial thanksgiving by Archdeaconries and the groups in the Diocese.