To continue to maintain areas of common cooperation and historical affinity, two main churches, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Methodist Church of Nigeria, inaugurated the Joint Anglican-Methodist Commission and the dedication of pioneer commissioners . The historic solemn event, held against the backdrop of Holy Communion last week, at the Methodist Hoares Memorial Cathedral, Yaba, Lagos was co-officiated by the Prelate of the Methodist Church, Nigeria, His Eminence , Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Uche and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Msgr. (Dr.) Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba.
During the inauguration ceremony, Uche noted that the two churches had started their missionary work in Nigeria with joint worship and cooperation, which needed to be structurally strengthened. He called on the two members to resolve to move forward and overcome the shortcomings that marred the initial relationship.
The Prelate said, “Since 1842, the historical and historic cooperation between our forerunners, Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman and Rev. Henry Townsend, our partnership has witnessed the cooperation and co-ownership of schools, seminaries, hospitals and other social welfare institutions. . It is common knowledge that during these 180 years of cooperation and mutual care, The Methodist Church in Nigeria and the Church in Nigeria (Anglican Communion) have had no permanent structure to engender and advance our common causes and to sweeten our relationship, which necessitated a smoothing of ruffled feathers.
“It is therefore a pleasure that at a time like this in our generation, the vision of our forerunners is now firmly anchored and I salute the insight and commitment of my dear brother, His Grace, Bishop ( Dr) Henry C. Ndukuba for initiating the realization of this long held dream of our ancestors.
“Let us throw into the dustbin of history those moments when we wrongly sought to take advantage of each other; and join forces to advance the cause of our unity and faith,” Uche said.
Tracing the cooperation of the two churches in Nigeria to the first “Christmas Eve” held together in Badagry on December 24, 1842, under the great tree in the center of the Badagry market, which they later called “Hagia Tree” or “Holy Tree “, said Ndukuba, “This joint celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ marked the very beginning of ecumenism between CMS and The Methodist Church. And this ecumenical birth has had an impact on the mission of the two churches in the collaborative work of the Kingdom of God.
The event of December 24, 1842, according to Ndukuba, gave rise to an ecumenical partnership which was fundamental in the establishment of the Christian Council of Nigeria and its institutions as the body of Christ in Nigeria, which was the foundation of the ‘Christian Association in Nigeria (BOX).
Ndukuba explained that beyond their meeting in Nigeria, the two churches shared history and heritage, as the Methodist Church is an offshoot of the Anglican Church, and even the Wesleys died and were buried. as Anglicans. He stated the need for the two churches to move together and achieve a common goal.
Ndukuba said, “It’s a common saying that ‘if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, you walk with others. We traveled fast and alone. May we now have a paradigm shift back to the old landmarks of mission and ministry as we associate again as co-workers in this kingdom work.
“The creation of the Anglican-Methodist Commission will allow us to harness the great potential of both churches and walk together with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.”
The highlight of the event was the appointment of two members from each church, Msgr. (Dr.) Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim (Anglican) and Msgr. (Dr) Raphael Chibuzo Opoko (Methodist), as Co-Chairs of the Commission.
On behalf of the Commission, the duo pledged loyalty and commitment to the task ahead. They were called upon to seek and foster understanding and cooperation, as well as to explore new perspectives and areas of cooperation between the two Churches and to advise the Churches on issues and matters of concern that require action and a joint resolution.
Ndukuba said, “You must explore, affirm, pursue, forge and persuade the leaders of both churches on the things you are convinced of that will build our life together.”
The Commission has commenced its work and will continue its work from 6th to 7th December 2022 at St. Matthias House (Church of Nigeria Secretariat), Abuja.