Methodist Church Nigeria Adopts Strategies for Future Growth and Expansion — By Ndon Asian

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The Calabar Archdiocese of the Methodist Church is laying down plans aimed at propelling the church to attain greater heights in today’s rapidly changing world situations.
To attain her goals of growth, expansion and sustainability, the 44th annual synod held at the Charles Wesley Circuit, No 20 Otu Ansa Lane, Calabar took far reaching decisions to enhance its strategies.
The synod conference which is made up of representatives of all arms and organs of the church, deliberated on ecclesiastical, economic and socio-political issues held from July 3 to 5, 2020 with the theme “Here am I! Send me”. The theme was taken from the book of Isaiah 6: 8b.
The conference was declared open by Elder Barr Gabriel Ben Inyang.
Taking a deep reflection on the theme, the synod urged, among others, that sound teachings which leads to repentance must be upheld. The need to ensure that Church Alters and Sanctuaries are maintained was also emphasized, since, according to the synod, “these are places where people can see the glory of God, rededicate and offer themselves to be cleansed.”
As a church that is at the forefront of impacting lives and society positively, it traces the root of the present decay in the moral and spiritual fabric of Nigeria to citizens who have continuously drifted away from God.
The church enjoined Nigerians to refrain from such vices as rape, adultery, fornication, ritual killings, cultism, kidnappings, armed robbery, etc insisting that the time is ripe for the nation, especially the political class, to whole heartedly return to God.
The synod was in total support of the decision of the Conference of Methodist Church Nigeria to create a Missionary Diocese in the core northern states of the country without recourse to laid down requirements and statutory demands, in spite of the growing threat to missionary activities in the predominantly Moslem north.
“The move was an effective strategy of evangelism and speedy expansion of the church to cover all parts of the country,” they said.
Again, to follow the evangelistic and missionary approach of the Archbishop, the synod appealed to the Conference to adopt the application of the Calabar Diocese to create a Missionary Diocese of Ikom and Diocese of Atamunu out of the present  Diocese of Calabar for strong and effective Pastoral influence and administrative convenience.
They emphasized evangelism, establishment and sustainance of of new churches in the northern parts of Cross River State where the presence of the church is not felt in vast areas yearning for the gospel.
The believe is that evangelism drive will increase indigineous membership of the church in northern Cross River where it is presently constituted largely by members from neighbouring states of Abia,  Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Benue and Enugu State.
In furtherance of the expansion, a steering committee was set up for the speedy actualisation of the creation of Atamunu Diocese. To ensure its sustainance, the church also resolved that more preaching stations and Bible study centers be established, while pursuing the acquisition of land for permanent places of worship, rehabilitation of existing structures, and stationing full-time workers to oversee the church.
On the state of current health challenges, the synod acknowledged that as part of the global family in Nigeria, the effect of the lockdown resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic, was not lost on the church. It therefore held that the global death toll poses great challenges as a result of the restrictions.
However, the advantages of the pandemic was recognized, conceding that medical facilities in Nigeria that were hurriedly commissioned without equipments and personnel, have now received some attention.
On the issue of economic and financial base for the church, the synod was of the view that plans must be laid to embark on long term investment, and to recruit qualified and skilled personnel in the execution and management of key projects.
While decrying the fallout of the nation’s economic downturn on widows and orphans, it called on the leadership to design a workable social welfare packages to ameliorate the plight of poor members of the congregations.
The conference registered its strong displeasure against the protest action of few youths in the Wesley Cathedral, describing it as “blackmail, totally unacceptable, insulting and direct affront to the culture and practice of the Methodist Church”. They called on “relevant authorities to investigate that group with their allies”.
Furthermore, it advised any member who feels aggrieved or dissatisfied with the discipline and administration of the church to seek appropriate clarification and enlightenment, rather than carry out ethnic biases and prejudices.
When contacted on phone, Archbishop Emmanuel Udofia expressed deep appreciation for members who bought into his burning vision to expand, revive and reposition the Church for greater heights in future. He appreciated the synod’s support and prayers to move the church forward.
On the issue of the 5 youths who masterminded  the protest on father’s day he insisted that it is not correct to say that the church was in crisis. He explained that there was a little  misunderstanding which should be expected whenever there are changes to the way people were used to doing things previously.
Udofia affirmed that “their choice of falsehood, ethnic biases and refusal to follow the path of honour, discipline and good moral values cannot change my resolve to rebrand them for the good of the church and for their good too”.
The Archbishop told me that he saw “nothing wrong with the warning and discipline that the Presbyter gave them to ensure accountability among the leadership of the church”.
“The process of revival, expansion and repositioning the church to meet emerging challenges of an unpredictable future is my focus, and it’s iriversible”, the Archbishop concluded.

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