BY FOLU OLAMITI
Monday, July 30, 2018 will remain significant and memorable for the diocese of Lagos, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). It was the day the diocese enthroned a new diocesan bishop in the person of Right Reverend (Dr) Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye to take over from Most Reverend Adebola Ademowo who retired gloriously after serving for 29 years as bishop of the Church Of Nigeria and archbishop of the Lagos Province.
The enthronement ceremony which was quite serene was at the same time colourful due to the array of dignitaries who graced the occasion. Not less than 62 bishops representing the heirachy of the church of Nigeria were present, joined by eminent personalities from all walks of life across the country. Members of the Cathedral Church Of Christ, Marina, Lagos who were present also adorned beautiful attires to celebrate the day.
The church auditorium was filled to capacity while worshippers and guests who could not find seats inside had to sit under canopies outside the church. The ceremony was by all means a historic event, a testimony to the wide acceptance of the new bishop, thus laying to rest the initial apprehensions raised in some quarters following his election.
In his inaugural address, Olumakaiye humbly acknowledged the good and unforgettable footprints of his predecessors in the diocese and promised to build and improve on their efforts to lift the diocese to the next level. He said he would carry the priests along in this task and would make their welfare a priority. He also recognised the contributions of the various societies in the church and prayed that God would reward them. He however observed that it may be a hard task for him to surpass the achievements of his immediate predecessor, bishop Ademowo whom he said trained and nurtured him in the ministry.
On the state of the nation, he said the country required divine intervention in her quest for the right and enduring solutions to her challenges. He urged Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, to return to God so that the light of God would illuminate the nation, thus paving the way for the desired positive changes to manifest.
“Light brings order where there is disorder. Light and glory are inseparable,” he said.
Quoting from the book of Isaiah 60:1-3, he said: “It is time for the light of God to shine in our lives. It is time for us to arise and shine. When the light of God comes, the glory will shine. The intensity of your light will determine your glory and shinning.
“We should go back to the ancient path of obedience, dignity of labour, honesty, fear of God, love and also being faithful to the things of God. By the time we walk on the path of righteousness, the beauty of holiness will be seen in our lives by everybody and the society will be better for everyone to live.”
He urged Nigerians not to lose faith in the country but to continue to pray and preach the undiluted gospel that will lead to a positive change of the hearts and attitude of all stakeholders.
“We should live the talk and allow the light of God to illuminate the hearts of our leaders. When we have absolute faith in the words of the Lord, there will be a major change in the country,” he said.
He advised the country’s leaders to lead the country in the path of righteousness, guided by the fear of God.
Unfolding his plans to take the diocese to higher level, Olumakaiye said his top priority would be evangelism and revival of the church, which he noted had been a significant pillar of the evolution of the Anglican Communion since the 18th Century with the emergence of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) that God used to bring revival and awakening to the church.
He recalled the historic efforts of the early fathers of faith under the CMS who braved all odds including demonic strongholds to bring the gospel to the dark alleys of Africa. He said: “Our light has come in this diocese. The mission mandate is not a suggestion but a command. When the glory of God appears, deliverance takes place. The church of God is not a club house. It is a place of fulfilment.”
He explained that the revival will “target the total man. We will provide for the needs of the people. We will engage in the priestly, prophetic, pastoral, prayer and praise ministries. We shall have diocesan convention ground where we will hold large-scale meetings. Our diocese shall exist mainly to exhibit God’s glory”.
Olumakaiye’s emphasis on the revival and reawakening of the church in Lagos diocese is not a surprise to many people who were familiar with his activities in his previous pastoral postings. He is well known for his uncommon zeal for the spread of the gospel as well as the spiritual development and welfare of both the shepherds and the flock under his watch.
True to his words, the revival in the Lagos diocese has already commenced with a spiritually loaded 21-day fasting and praying programme which began on Wednesday, August 1, two days after his enthronement. It is mandatory for all churches in the diocese and he has vowed to pay unscheduled visits to the various assemblies to ensure compliance.
Also in furtherance of the revival, the bishop has inaugurated a healing and charismatic service which is to hold in the evening of every first Sunday of the month at the Cathedral Church of Christ. The first edition took place on Sunday, August 5 and according to worshipers, it was a glorious encounter with the Holy Spirit.
The 49-year-old Bishop has had a very eventful journey of over 30 years in the ministry. He is also an excellent scholar. He holds a Doctorate degree in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan and he has many scholarly theological publications to his credit among which is a book titled ‘Inculturation and Decolonization of Oral Liturgy of the Anglican Communion Nigeria’. Bishop Olumakaiye is spiritually supported by his wife Motunrayo Olumakaiye, a professor.
Folu Olamiti, a media consultant, writes from Abuja.