FEATURE ARTICLE

Saturday, July 20, 2019
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AS THE CHURCH OF GOD (SEVENTH DAY), NIGERIA INAUGURATES ITS NEW LEADERSHIP

ew days from now, my Church, The Church of God (Seventh Day) in Nigeria will inaugurate a leadership that will be succeeding the Pastor G. C Alozie's led- administration .About a month ago, the church at Port- Harcourt to elected a new set of officers to pilot the affairs of the church in the next four years after the previous administration which held sway for two tenures of four years each expired.

The new leadership, led by Pastor Monday Elechi, parades men whose capability in the area of church administration is not in doubt. The new national overseer, Pastor Monday Elechi has just concluded his two terms as the overseer of the Rivers State Conference. Before now, Elechi has also served in various capacities both at his home conference and the national conference. A particular reference is Elechi's intervention in resolving the Abia conference crisis, when he served as the chairman of the reconciliation committee.

Another member of the team that has garnered appreciable experience in church administration is the national treasurer, Elder Ogechi Nwankpa. Nwankpa has on numerous occasions served as the chairman of the Men Ministry of the church both at the state and national conference levels, including other functions he has undertaken on behalf of church at other levels. His coming on board, I believe, will add enormous value to the church. There is no need highlighting the capabilities of individual members of the administration, my take is that the church made a very wise choice in assembling the team, unlike what was obtained in the past.

It is expected that members across the conferences of the nation will gather in Pot-Harcourt, Rivers State to witness the epoch inaugural service facilitated by one of my brothers in the church, Bro Felix Obuah, who is also the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State. If I dedicated the entire piece to highlight the contributions of Bro. Obuah to the development of the church, definitely space and time will fail me. I have no other words to appreciate the laudable gestures of this illustrious member rather than to say thank you, may God continue to enlarge the coast of Bro Obuah for all his good deeds .Also, for those itching for melodious renditions, keep a date with the event as state conference choirs will be in attendance to thrill the congregation.

The church's sojourn in this part of world, Nigeria in particular dates back to about 1939 through the instrumentality of Bishop Benjamin Tikili of blessed memory.

Tikili, who was initially of the Seventh Day Adventists faith was later converted to the church and became the pioneer missionary of the church in Nigeria. Tikili account was graphically captured in his article"The church comes to Nigeria" pages 12 and 13 of November 1980 edition of the Bible Advocate.

"During the time I served in the Teacher Training College, Andrew N. Digger wrote to me and offered me an appointment as an overseer charged with establishing the Church of God in Nigeria, West Africa. I wrote baxk, pointing out what it would mean to me here in Nigeria should I resign from my affiliation with the Adventist Church. I resigned from the Adventist denomination on September 30, and trusting in the Lord, I returned to Aba with my family of seven.

"Two weeks after my arrival from Ibadan, I started to work as a preacher. The Lord used me to bring men and women with their families into the faith. I laboured with two or three converts ( from 1939 to 1942)...," Tikili wrote.

I know it is going to be an onerous task for Pastor Elechi and his team, but their capabilities to weather the storm are not in doubt. One of the greatest challenges the church has faced over the years is the issue of misidentification. People always identify The church of God (Seventh Day) in Nigeria as the Seventh Day Adventists. Unfortunately, they are distinct denominations with distinct beliefs, though some beliefs relate at some point.

The Church of God (Seventh Day) has over 20 beliefs. Some of its beliefs are distinct from other denominations. The church distinguishes between clean and unclean meat as supported by Genesis 7:1-3; Leviticus 11:2-23, among other scripture texts.

The church also believes that marriage was instituted by God and is intended to last as long as both parties. Unlike what is obtainable in today's world where marriages are dissolved with the snap of the finger, the church asserts that" those who remarry after divorce, except the divorce was for cause of fortification, commit adultery. Similarly, those who marry persons who have been divorced except for the cause of formication commit adultery(Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 5:31,Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, among other scripture texts).

The church also believe that celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, Lent or Halloween do not have scriptural support .2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Jeremiah 19:2-19; Matthew 12:38-40).

The church believes that baptism should be by immersion. On Sabbath keeping, it is the belief of the church that" God set the Sabbath apart in the beginning as a memorial of creation, and it was by Jesus and the apostles".

Without preempting the Elechi-led administration, I know some many thematic areas will inform its policy direction, but adequate attention should be accorded to ministers training and retraining, constitution, ministers recruitment, leadership crises ,church publicity and expansion, among others.

On this note, I urge the administration to put itself in the shoes of the third character in Leo Rosten's work where Destiny comes to an Island and asked its inhabitants what they if an imminent submergence of the Island is announced. Pastor should, like Rosten's character, gather members of the church with high intellectual capacity to think outside the box and think out road map for the church. This should begin with the constitution of Administrative Board of the national conference with men of high intellectual capacity.

Once again kudos to Bro. Felix Obuah for driving the church so far! Kudos to the members of the church for changing the narrative of national conference elections by electing men of high morals. Welcome on board the brand new leadership, the ball is on your court.

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