Nigeria visit update
Update on the Bishop of Clogher's Visit to Nigeria
The Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson, continues on his
two week visit to Nigeria, where he is the guest of the Diocese of Kaduna.
Having travelled to Nigeria on Wednesday night of last week, the bishop commenced
engagements on Thursday morning, by addressing diocesan clergy on the theme
of relationships and communion. The theme was a bible study of St Luke chapter
17, something which the bishop had shared with his own clergy in Clogher
Diocese earlier in November. Dutiful service, holiness and restoration to
membership of society and returning to the source of healing with gratitude
formed the core. The bishop took a wide range of questions on many aspects
of the life of the contemporary Anglican Communion. The bishop also had a
long meeting with a visiting bishop from Zaphira State, where Sharia law
holds, and discovered more about Christian witness in an interfaith context.
He also had the opportunity to meet with the local Muslim leader.
On Friday, Bishop Jackson met with the committee who have formulated his
visit, and worked through the aspirations and expectations of the many meetings
with churches, diocese and individuals which will take place during his visit.
The bishop outlined to them the next phase of the partnership between Clogher
and Kaduna dioceses, in terms of the Kaduna Rural Education and Healthcare
Programme. The committee were excited by this and expressed their greetings
and good wishes to the clergy and people of Clogher diocese which the bishop
reciprocated. Bishop Jackson also visited St Michael’s Diocesan School
beside the cathedral in Kaduna. There he met with the acting principal, staff
and pupils, who sit their end of year exams this week. He met the local church
committee and members of Christ Church, a large thriving parish in the heart
of Kaduna city. Whilst there, he gave a talk on the gospel, evangelism and
contemporary Anglicanism. The bishop noted that media reports of inter-faith
riots in Kaduna the previous day were incorrect, and whilst there was a riot
near the bishop’s house, it was between police and drug dealers, and
not an inter-faith riot as reported in the media.
On Saturday the bishop travelled to Jacaranda Farm to see a range of agricultural
and horticultural farming in operation, and also to see Clogher Hostel, which
was constructed on the farm with financial support from the Diocese of Clogher,
as were a number of other actions on the farm. He also spent time in Kasuwa
Magoni deanery where there are nine churches, seven evangelists and one priest.
He visited all nine churches in the deanery, one of which is set close to
a village where the animists live in the forest. The bishop was invited to
give names of dedication to six of the churches and after prayer and listening
to the people, he gave the following for different reasons: St Paul’s
Church Kallah; Church of the Living Water Gefe; Christ the King Maraba Kajuru;
St John the Baptist Iburu; St John the Evangelist Dambagudu; and St Luke
the Evangelist Ilufana. Some of the church buildings are in the process of
being built, but the people are already worshipping there. One of the churches
had held an all night vigil to discern the way forward for the parish. Numbers
are small in rural settings but increasingly people who are already Christian
are looking to the Anglican diocese for tradition and stability. Also many
other Christians are turning to the Anglican Church. After a busy day, the
bishop returned to the bishop’s house with a total of six chickens
as gifts for Archbishop Josiah from the parishioners. They travelled quietly
in the jeep!!
The bishop worshipped and preached on Sunday in St Paul’s Church Kakuri,
a suburb of Kaduna city. It has a large Igbo community with a Hausa pastor.
This is part of Archbishop Josiah’s policy of not allowing parishes
to have tribal rectors and tribal identity. This is very much in the spirit
of the contemporary Nigeria. The three hour service, at which the bishop
preached, was attended by a congregation of nearly 1,000 people, during which
Bishop Jackson was invited to bless two families each of whom had a child
recently, and a couple recently married giving thanks for their marriage.
During the service parishioners entered dancing and carrying gifts of rice,
yams, fruit and three rams, one of which was for Bishop Jackson, as the visiting
bishop. It is now happily grazing in the local bishop’s compound! The
bishop’s sermon focused on your possessions and the Holy Spirit. He
developed a theme of spiritual and material generosity in line with 1 Corinthians
and the body of Christ as the church was dedicated to St Paul. During the
day the bishop also met with a youth missionary who has family connections
with the Diocese of Clogher.
On Monday, the bishop spent time in Kateri deanery visiting a medical station
and a number of village communities. There are two clergy and eight evangelists
who service up to twenty parishes on either side of main road from Kaduna
to Abuja, and there is also a healthcare clinic, a large primary school,
and a high school up to grade three. The main illnesses dealt with by the
healthcare clinic are still malaria and typhoid. One parish is forty five
miles into the bush. At Bishini, a development area church, the bishop encountered
some interesting questions - if a believer reverts to idol worship will that
person be able or not to have a Christian funeral? if parents are animist
and Muslim can a son or daughter attend their funeral? Clearly these are
live issues. The bishop based his general address to the people on St John
1:1 “in the beginning was the Word...” He explored the link between
creation and incarnation, and the Word as Bible and the Word as Christ. He
appealed to the people to bring forth their own church leaders for the future.
The village chief, a member of the local church, attended throughout the
meeting and sent the bishop away with twelve yams and two chickens.
Tuesday commenced with another early start, as the bishop headed off to
spend the day in the deanery of Birnin Gwari, which means the city of the
Gwari Tribe. The communities are partly mixed Igbo and Gwari and some are
exclusively Gwari. Interestingly at least two of the communities which he
visited had been evangelized by other mission agencies but now are asking
to be incorporated into the Anglican Diocese because they want structure.
The bishop had the opportunity to dedicate and name three churches: The Church
of the Living Way Kuriga; St Andrew Sabonlayi; and The Church of the Resurrection
Kasaya. The parishes are very rural and are actively supported by St Christopher's
Church, Kaduna city, in terms of building, evangelism and general encouragement.
This is a very interesting type of pioneer ministry which seems to work well.
In the evening the bishop gave a lecture to a large gathering in St Michael's
Cathedral on Anglicanism and the Covenant. He gave an outline of the threads
of Anglicanism and showed how these could be found in the Covenant text.
He underlined the localness of Anglicanism based on the application of shared
principles and practices; he shared reflections on his experiences of the
diocese of Kaduna; and he described the Covenant as an exercise in shared
trust. The Covenant had been given to people in the deaneries ahead of the
lecture and there was lively discussion particularly of autonomy. Interestingly
he was asked why there was no specific mention of youth as a major component
in the Anglican future. The bishop suggested the lady write with her suggestion
to the ACO. There was no antipathy at all expressed towards the Covenant.
During the occasion, the bishop handed over to the Resident Canon in the
cathedral a signed letter of greeting, which was gratefully received.
Bishop Jackson continues on his visit of Nigeria until Wednesday 1st December.
25th November 2010