By Our Reporters
The Kingdom Expansion agenda of the Anglican Diocese of Owerri, under the episcopacy of Bishop Chukwuma Chinekezi Oparah, is set for the next level with the Bishop holding his first Synod since his consecration and enthronement, last year.
The Synod, which ends today with a thanksgiving service at St. Luke’s Church, Achi Mbieri, in the Mbaitoli Local Government Area, has as its theme, “You Are Important: Divine Recognition for Effective Church Growth and Expansion”, reflection of the Bishop’s passion for God’s Kingdom expansion and church growth.
The 2nd Session of the 21st Synod of the Diocese began on Thursday, October 3, with the arrival of the delegates and continued to Friday, when the keynote address was presented.
Yesterday, Saturday, the Bishop, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, Ph.D JP, presented his Presidential Address.
Today’s thanksgiving service will also feature the launching of the Bishop’s Foundation for Mission and Development.
At the Synod, various Archdeaconries and other organs in the diocese rendered accounts of their stewardship.
The Synod came as Bishop Oparah clocked almost one year in his episcopacy.
Christian Voice spoke to some prominent members of the Diocese of Owerri who expressed their views on the performance and achievements of the Bishop.
They commended the Bishop and scored him high for maintaining and increasing the physical and spiritual growth of the Diocese, especially through his Kingdom expansion programme, which has led to the establishment of many new churches in the Diocese.
Respondents cutting across the Clergy and Laity, expressed the view that he will take the Diocese to greater heights if he continued at the present speed.
A senior priest in the Diocese, Ven. Dr. Simeon Duruji, enumerated some of the Bishop’s achievements and described him as God-sent.
“Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, Ph.D, JP is a God-given leader. His achievement within a short frame of time and the way he’s carrying out his activities doesn’t show him as a new Bishop. Through his Kingdom expansion, many new churches have been created”, Duruji said.
Ven. Duruji, who is the Vicar and Archdeacon of Christ’s Church Archdeaconry, recalled that the Bishop set out a target of 200 churches before his retirement and quickly added that, “he may establish more than 200 churches from the way I see things”.
The Archdeacon, who isalso a lecturer in the Department of Christian Religious Studies, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, credited the recovery of the Ogwa General hospital, from the Imo State government to the diocesan who, he said, promised in his inaugural speech, to do so. The government has officially handed over the hospital totally to the Diocese.
Ven. Duruji commended the Bishop for ensuring that Archdeacon Dennis Junior Semi-nary (ADJS), which, he said, had almost gone into extinction, bounced back to life.
He noted that Bishop Oparah did not only sustain the Bishop’s Chapel mid-week service which has lifted spirituality in the Diocese, but also fashioned out office hours to attend to members of the Diocese.
The Archdeacon also cited ongoing construction of a Diocese Secretariat and a new Bishop’s Chapel, two projects whose foundations have been laid, as the Bishop’s achievements, pointing under his watch the Transfiguration Press and Christian Voice Newspaper have continued to excel.
“I score him 85% and I expect more wonderful things from him. He will take Owerri Diocese to greater heights”, Ven. Duruji said.
He, however, advised him not to be too soft but to stamp his authority and warned the faithful in the Diocese not to take his softness for granted.
In his own view, the Lay Synod Secretary II of the Diocese, Sir Soronnadi Unegbu rated the Bishop highly.
His words; “so far so good, since his consecration and enthronement in November 2018, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, Ph.D, JP, to the best of my knowledge, has performed creditably well. You know he has a Kingdom expansion programme. As we speak, the Bishop, led by the Holy Spirit, has been able to plant 28 new churches. He has also embarked on employment and training of Church Teachers. Just last week, the Church Teachers had a workshop/retreat at Good Shepherd Uzii. This will strengthen the Diocese”.
He praised the Bishop for the establishment of Trinity College Owerri Study Centre, which will open temporarily on October 8, at Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL) Owerri and described it as a big achievement on the part of the Bishop.
Sir Unegbu also described the Bishop as very innovative, adding that his Train A Priest (TAP) programme is yielding dividends.
“With over 20 new churches, over 50 new church Teachers as well as the acquisition of the Ogwa hospital which has started functioning with doctors and nurses, the sky is his beginning”, the LSS said.
He commended Bishop Oparah for observing the 60th Anniversary of the Diocese as well as for his plan to establish a tertiary institution in the Diocese.
Sir Soronnadi advised the Bishop to always rely on the Holy Spirit and enjoined the faithful in the Diocese to pray for the Bishop that the Holy Spirit will enable him in all his activities.
Another prominent member of the Diocese and the chairman of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri (KSC), praised the Bishop for what he called wonderful ideas.
“I am so much elated by what he’s doing so far, especially in the revival of hospitals and schools. You see, education is very important and that is one area the church needs to dwell more on. He is also establishing new schools. I want to especially thank Bishop Oparah for the Trinity College Study Centre, which is being cited in my town, Orodo”, the monarch said.
Eze Ohiri further pledged that, “as the chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, I promise that the Royal fathers will continue to support him and ensure that his episcopacy is successful”.
Similarly, the immediate past chairman of Owerri Diocesan Clergy Association, Ven. Ferdinand Chukwuemeka Mbalisi, expressed gratitude to God for the election of Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah as the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Owerri.
He noted that many projects have been springing up since the inception of his episcopacy, adding that the Clergy have cued into his church planting vision.
Ven. Mbalisi, who is the Archdeacon of Obazu, described the establishment of the Trinity College Study Centre by Bishop Oparah as wonderful, stressing that Owerri and other neighbouring Dioceses will benefit from it.
He commended the Bishop for his vision of theological education for priests and pointed out that cordial relationship exists between the Bishop and both the senior as well as the junior priests.
Ven. Mbalisi called on the Bishop to continue to take the clergy and the entire Diocese to greater heights as well as ensure realization of all projects especially nursing school at the Ogwa hospital.
Also speaking, the Registrar and Clerk of the Diocese, Sir Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN), expressed surprise at Bishop Oparah’s scintillating performance.
His exact words: “I must speak with all Christian honesty. I am amazed at the superlative performance of the Bishop. I’m asking whether he attended any training before becoming Bishop. There’s nothing to suggest that he has been there just for one year. From his consecration down to the 60th Anniversary celebration, the way he handles every activity is just perfect. And then the approach to the issue of time. He is a stickler for time and this has changed the perception of Owerri Anglican Diocese.
Sir Ekomaru was full of praises for the Bishop for his church planting vision as well as the recent commissioning of ‘army of Lay Leaders, which he described as spectacular, coming at a time when people are running away from the church.
The Registrar also noted the overall peace in the Diocese since the inception of the Bishop.
He equally commended the Bishop’s wife, Mrs. Chidiebere Oparah (Mama Owerri) for her support at home and in the ministry which has made the Bishop to excel.
Sir Ekomaru advised men of God to always keep to the terms of reference of their call and prayed God not to depart from the Bishop.
He also enjoined the faithful in the Diocese to rally round and support the Bishop in his ministry.