I DECIDED TO ENTER MY OWN SHOES NOT ANYBODY – BISHOP ODEDEJI
On Friday, November 15, 2013, the Rt Revd Olusola James Odedeji granted to be interviewed by the Press men from four media houses in Nigeria namely; Guardian Newspaper, The Nation, Punch and Flash on some issues. Get the latest press release. It is human madness to say a man and a man will marry and a woman will marry a woman. It is part of the devil intervention in the world. The Church is sleeping so the devil is replacing the good with evil.
Q1: How far is the journey for the past 6 months of being in the office?
BISHOP: It has been challenging for the past six months. Many things have been done. We have visited about 328 Churches on familiarisation tour after our enthronement as the Bishop of Lagos West. A total of 1799 candidates had been confirmed, and that number had been added to our Diocese as full members. Some other Episcopal duties like laying of foundations of churches and vicarages and dedication of Churches were performed. I had attended vigils in some of our Archdeaconry headquarters. I have been privileged to visit other Dioceses to fellowship with my brother Bishops. It has been interesting and challenging. But I thank God for His grace.
Q2: Considering the achievements of your predecessor Bishop Peter Adebiyi (rtd), what are the challenges you had upon stepping into his shoes? Do you feel under pressure for this?
BISHOP: I decided not to wear anybody’s shoes but mine only. Every leadership has its vision. Baba Adebiyi my father did very well and recorded a lot of success before he retired. He did all these in a period of 14years and that was a long time in office. But within these six months, we had purchased 10 landed properties for 10 churches, roofed 5 churches and ordained 15 clergymen and by December another 12 would be ordained in the Trinity Ordination. It is a continuous work. If in 6 months God has been on our side for all these, it means the future is very bright.
Q3: Some people see the Anglican Church as an old Church for the old and fading generation. What is your reaction? What are you doing to retain the youth who should be the future of the church?
BISHOP: Though the Anglican Church has tradition and history, it would be an error for somebody to say she is not Pentecostal. Every church has her root in the day of Pentecost. Anglican Church believes in the Holy Spirit, His works and manifestation. We believe in the Scripture. One would not overrule that there was a dark age of Anglican Church when the church was sleeping but now our Archbishops and Bishops are very spiritual and evangelical. We are Pentecostal because we could trace our origin to the day of Pentecost. In the Cathedral here some one told me that when I was the Dean, that after every service day, it seemed that the days should be fast-forwarded for another Sunday to come. I had been privileged to pastor a church and when I got there, it was mainly old people that were there but after sometime other ministers from so-called Pentecostal Churches around were displeased with me, that I was taking away their members. What simply happened was that those that left for those churches, looking for spiritual fulfilment (we could not blame them) returned to Anglican when they noticed changes. That is the type of Anglican Church we have now.
On the issue of the youth, I had mandated that all our Archdeaconry headquarters have Youth Chapel. In the Cathedral, the Youth Chapel holds two services every Sunday with an average attendance of 1600 youths. We have set up committee to look into what could be done to further retain them in the church.
Q4: Did you ever consider your election as Bishop a merit? How did you receive the news of your election and what was your spontaneous reaction?
BISHOP: My election as Bishop is not by merit but by the grace of God. Diocese of Lagos West is the biggest Diocese in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). I never expected it and one would have expected translation of an older and experienced Bishop to Lagos West. But as God would have it, the Primate abolished translation two years ago and encouraged all Bishops to stay in their Dioceses and work hard. In the real sense of it, it was my dream to become a Bishop because I joined the ministry at age 23 and by age 43, I was already a Dean of the Cathedral, a post very close to the Bishop and I had thought it that by the time some old Bishops would retire, I might be remembered to be one because a lot of them knew me. I never dreamed of Lagos West because of the size. I saw the election as a call to service.
Q5: What are your visions for the Diocese of Lagos West? What strategy are you going to employ to retain the youth in the church?
BISHOP: The Diocese of Lagos West is blessed with membership. I have three cardinal visions. First is the spiritual development of our members. It is my desire that every member of our Diocese make heaven at last. So emphasis would be placed on spiritual matters. Secondly is youth empowerment. We would invest in our youth for them to be self reliant. And thirdly is pragmatic evangelism. We would do more of welfare and encourage the rich to take care of the Lazarus in the church because when a poor man can not eat, the rich man would not sleep. And we would continue to plant more churches and support other Dioceses. I started moving round now during Sunday services and I discovered that we have more people who are non-church goers and are not Muslims, more outside the Church. When you are not attending church for 52 Sundays, you will definitely be godless. So we need to evangelise them.
Q6: The Diocese will be 14 years, how do you plan to celebrate the anniversary?
BISHOP: We are going to celebrate the anniversary in a very low key. It would be an opportunity to fellowship with some of our members and all the clergy to further enumerate our vision and also to celebrate the faithfulness of God for the successful transition.
Q7: There have been rumours that there could soon be a permanent split of the Anglican Communion worldwide. For example, the Church of Nigeria was not at the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Could you lay out for us the template? What was the decision of GAFCON that was held recently in Kenya? Do you think some Anglicans in Africa can be bought to join the race of same sex marriage because they seek support for their Dioceses?
BISHOP: It is human madness to say a man and a man should be joined together in matrimony and a woman to marry another woman. It is part of the devil intervention in the world. The Church is sleeping so the devil is replacing the good with evil. At the just concluded GAFCON, everyone was of the opinion that homosexuality is not scriptural. The Church of God has grown beyond collecting bribe. Some of the Dioceses in the countries where there are persecutions are ready to die for their faith, so they cannot be bought. And Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is doing a lot in supporting the less privileged Diocese. Some of them gave us their words to stand for truth and holiness.
Q8: Do you support the agitation that a time has come in Lagos State to have Christian Governors?
BISHOP: Governor Babatunde Fasola is doing well and he is not a Christian. If the Church condemned what was bad, we must also commend what is good. It is only fair to have a Christian Governor. A particular group should not be in perpetual leadership. It would be fair if Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the incumbent Governor give it a thought to have a Christian Governor. The bottom line is that anybody who gets there and does well, we will support and sing his praise.
The Revd Oluwole Ibikunle