When Anglican priests ‘draw the line of battle’ – Blueprint Newspapers Limited
Recently, the media has been flooded with the alleged resignation or dismissal of an Anglican Communion Priest in Anambra State, Reverend Canon Lumenkristi Sylvester Eboh. OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU writes on the facts of the case.
In the recent past, the media has been flooded with stories of the resignation or dismissal of a priest from Niger’s diocese, the Anglican Communion. The Diocese of Niger, one of the 10 dioceses of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, is located in Onitsha, Anambra State. It is often referred to as the mother or flagship of the Anglican Communion in the country. This perhaps explains why the news has become a national discourse.
Reverend Canon Lumenkristi Sylvester Eboh, Vicar, Christ Township Church Umidioka, Dunukofia LGA, at a press conference in Awka, the state capital, Monday, March 7, 2022, told media that he had resigned from his priesthood in the Anglican communion because certain forces of the church forced his wife to leave him but gave him accommodation with an unknown destination.
Eboh, who owns a prayer ministry, God in Action Adoration Ministry Ogidi, Idemili North LGA, further alleged that his functioning of the ministry was the root of his problems with the church.
I am persecuted
He added that the problems started when the diocesan bishop, Bishop Owen Nwokolo, urged him to include his name and that of his wife (Nwokolo) as trustees of the church, a development he has refused according to him.
“I receive a special call from God to spread his word in a special way and to serve souls, heal the sick and bring God’s blessings to souls. For this reason, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin working in a congregation which then metamorphosed into a ministry of worshiping God in action. This course of my ministry is what I can say has sparked antagonism and persecution from angles controlled by Bishop Owen Nwokolo.
“I am the only priest in the diocese who is not on the salary list because I rejected the salary. However, my lord the bishop called me later and insisted that he wanted himself and his wife included as trustees in the registered titles of the ministry of worship.
“When I prayed about his request, I received a clear revelation that God had different purposes for the Bishop, but not within the scope of the ministry of worship and I conveyed this message to him.
“He threatened to ban my activities within the diocese and to bring me down for this refusal, but I relied on God. Even if they kill me tomorrow, some people are aware of my correspondence with the bishop on this subject and through exchanges on social networks. That’s just the problem,” he alleged.
Eboh guilty of offenses
But at a press conference in Awka on Thursday, March 10, the Diocese’s Vice Chancellor on Niger, Mr. Ben Uzuegbu, who is a senior Nigerian Advocate (SAN), said the priest had been sent to indefinite suspension on December 20, 2021. and that his license as a priest in the diocese had also been revoked.
Uzuegbu, who said this was due to his many acts contrary to scripture and Church traditions in accordance with Canon XVI (38) of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), added that the diocese had on different occasions attempted to resolve the issue. constituting a panel, but the priest neither honored their invitation nor responded.
According to him, these include allegations of problems the priest had with his ex-wife and his family, an ongoing court case with reference number FHC/Awk/C/34/2019, d purchase of products from people without reimbursement and a complaint documented by law Zoomers, a law firm which claimed that the priest had impregnated a lady with poor health who was in his custody for prayers, among other things .
The SAN also explained that the constitution of the diocese did not allow the registration of a rival church or ministry as established by the embattled priest. Further adding, he said that the same constitution stipulates the ownership of the various assets acquired by each parish or through the priests of the diocese under their employment and stewardship.
“There is no provision in the constitution allowing a priest to register a parallel ministry while serving the diocese without the official approval of his bishop. Therefore, these allegations show how far the so-called Lumenkristi goes deceive the public. You can judge for yourselves. He lived in the church, was paid by the church, used church property and resources, embezzled funds entrusted to him, quietly recorded a ministry but always claimed to be a priest,” he noted.
In corroboration of guilt as charged
Also speaking, the Diocese’s communications director on Niger, Sir Oselloka Offoh, called unsubstantiated allegations by their former priest that Bishop Nwokolo was authoritarian or conspired against him.
“Regarding the accusations of arbitrariness, harassment, conspiracy and defamation, it is common knowledge that the Bishop of Niger is besieged by numerous petitions against Lumenkristi Eboh. All the petitions relate to acts of impropriety and unhealthy behavior not expected of a priest. He was invited to attend the serious allegations of a panel which he ignored. In addition, our diocese offers different packages for the priest.
“The packages the diocese has for priest and workers are a health insurance plan for workers and their families, theological training and post-ordination training scholarships for priests, clergy and wife pensions, seminars and meetings, non-profit loan facilities through the Akuchukwu microfinance bank, subsidized housing estates in Ojoto where priests/workers bought land at lower rates to enable them to have a retirement home and others,” he noted.
After the statements from the diocese, Eboh hit back in a statement insisting that what the vice chancellor and director of communications had said was untrue.
He said, “I submitted my letter of resignation dated 12/21/2021, following which the bishop in a state of hysteria ordered that a letter of suspension be made for me and backdated to 20 /12/21 At my level of training and exposure, I couldn’t be stupid enough to write a boldly dated 12/21/21 resignation letter if indeed I had received a suspension notice dated 20/ 12/21.
At the moment, it is not known how this is going, especially regarding their various missions in the vineyard of God.