The Church of Nigeria Standing Committee meeting held between Thursday 14th and Friday 15th September 2006 at St Paul's Cathedral Diobu - Port Harcourt
My dear People of God,
The peace of the Lord be always with you as you worship Him in the beauty of holiness and in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
In the past few days, the Standing Committee of our Church has been meeting at St. Paul's Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt in the Diocese of Niger Delta North to consider under God, the theme WE ARE ON THE LORD'S SIDE (Exodus 32:26). This is in acknowledgement of the fact that our Church has come to that point in time when our identity can no longer be predicated on vague assumptions but rather on solid biblical convictions, and unequivocal confessions. Our Church must step out of the cobweb of twisted opinions that seek to capture both church and state as we face the challenges of greatness, fidelity and credibility on both fronts.
Our fathers, the Bishops spent a day interacting with the chief operatives in INEC (Prof. Maurice Iwu), the Police (The IG, Mr. Sunday Ehindero), NOA (Alhaji Idi Farouk) and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (Hon. Austin Opara). The purpose was to be better informed about the electoral process and the welfare of our dear nation.
We also took considerable time to reflect on the context and application of the theme. We came under the conviction that whatever we do to replace the supremacy of God, He would destroy. We also discerned afresh that the voice of the people is not always the voice of God since, as in the case of the Israelites and the golden calf, the voice of the people can actually be rebellion. The serious implication for us is that when our culture, tradition and disposition go against the Word of God, we must choose to be on the Lord's side. The time-tested and inerrant rule of life must remain the written Word of God. To toy with these in the name of cultural accommodation or contextualization can only lead to worship of pseudo gods and the inevitable attendant confusion and disharmony, as in the case in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
There are lessons for today's Church: As we face the real danger of sliding into syncretism, apostasy, and the inevitable divine judgment, what is needed is nothing short of the call by Moses: "Who is on the Lord's side?" And those on the Lord's side must not hesitate, whatever the cost, to make their position clearly known. We must resist every attempt from any quarters to be muddled or messed up with those of contrary disposition in any unholy alliance, lest like Israel we get our fingers burnt.
In all these, we as a church must press on with the mission committed to us - to make disciples of all nations. That is why we have taken steps to elect bishops for the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nomadic Mission, and the outreach to the scattered flock of God in North America. We are still opening up more areas to direct access to the gospel message by creating more missionary dioceses. This is capital-intensive and Dioceses should therefore demonstrate greater commitment to the endowment fund project. We also encourage individuals who are endowed to support the Church in her missionary emphasis.
As part of our growing mission emphasis, we have also sought to understand better ways of understanding and evangelising our neighbours in other faiths, particularly the Islam in the context of growing world-wide concerns. It is apparent that there is a world-wide Islamic agenda which has the political domination of every nation in view. Considering the negative consequences of this development, it is therefore imperative for Christians to be properly informed about what Islam stands for and dialogue with Muslims only when it is done on equal terms.
We remind our churches to maintain the emphasis on the war against indecent dressing, as well as indecent conduct and the attendant problems of HIV/AIDS which requires our unceasing commitment.
As we all resolve to be on the Lord's side, may the Lord be with you.
(Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria).
September 16, 2006