Primate of the African Church, His Eminence, Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia has condemned in strong terms the conduct of weddings by churches, before the traditional marriage.
Primate Udofia said this while reechoing the decision of the clergies at the 2020 National Clergy Retreat of the African Church held at St Stephen’s Cathedral along Wellington Bassey Way in Uyo.
“From this retreat, the African Church does not agree with the situation whereby any church at all or member of the church will have to conduct a wedding where the father of the woman will officially before God and the congregation present his daughter to the man of God to be given to her husband which shows that everything has been concluded”, he said.
“The church does not agree with a situation whereby, after such a service, they go back to do the traditional marriage where the same woman that was wedded in the church will be looked for and asked to identify the husband and at the same time, the man will be asked again if he will marry the woman. I believe the church should kick against this”; the Primate expressed.
Admitting that one of the reasons for such practice is inadequate to finance on the couple’s part, the Primate noted that the Church has, for this reason, suggested that both activities be done in one day with the traditional marriage conducted very early in the morning, between 8 am and 11 am, while the wedding follows immediately.
“That is most appropriate for anybody who wants to cut cost but anything in the reverse is an error and should not be encouraged.”
Speaking on the theme of the retreat, “Equipping the Clergy for Contemporary Leadership Challenges in National Polity”, Udofia noted that it was timely and apt that the church was putting up an enlightenment programme as such, to fortify the clergies, adding that it was not new that the clergy is facing lots of challenges in present times.
“That is why there is an urgent need for a programme like this, for the equipping of the clergymen to be updated with the skills and knowledge required to run the church of God”, he stressed.
He noted that the retreat which was unlimited to religious matters also featured national and self-development talks such as the spate of killings in Nigeria, economic and health issues, as well as how ministers can develop themselves economically, and expressed optimism that the intellectual elocution and impartation released at the retreat will not only furnish the men of God to be up and doing but will also make them better ministers than before, which will, in turn, make a vibrant congregation.
Speaking on bad parenting and the ills it is currently birthing in the society, the African Church head noted painfully the lackadaisical antidote of some parents and clergies to proper child upbringing.
He maintained that as a result of parents not following scriptural instruction to train their wards in the way they should go, children are allowed to themselves without restrictions.
“The Bible does not condemn spanking and correcting a child but a situation where parents are not giving their children adequate training, the result is the tears most parents are shedding today.”
He lamented the situation where some parents leave their children at home all day only to return at night without knowing what is going on in the lives of their children and charged parents to remain focused on their children, knowing that any child who is not properly trained can become a miscreant tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a communique issued at the end of the National Clergy Retreat has it that leadership is the biggest problem of churches and societies today.
It adds that although the church has recorded a great deal of membership growth, there was still a leadership crisis because leaders are not equipped enough.
The communique also adds that strategic planning is a panacea for equipping the clergy for contemporary leadership challenges in the national polity and that leaders across board must be focused and committed to avoiding leadership crisis in the church and society.
Furthermore, it states that contemporary leadership challenges are a global thing which can be best handled by constant training both in character and integrity building.
Papers presented at the retreat were: Expanding the Scope of Ecclesiastical Leadership in the Emerging National Challenges, Minister and Wealth Creation: Entrepreneurship and Microfinancing as a panacea for Eradicating poverty, The Minister: His Vocation and Family’s Contribution to Effective Ministry, Ecclesiastical and Liturgical Terms and Usages, The Minister’s Relationship with his Congregation and Evangelism, the Heartbeat of Christ.
Among the keynote speakers at the retreat were Primate of The African Church Worldwide; His Eminence, Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia; Archbishop of Rivers Province, His Grace, Most Rev (Dr) Kola Dokubo; Senior Pastor of Insight Bible Church, Dr Sylvanus Ukafia, Rt. Rev. O. O. Mensah, Mr Ime E. Uwah, Rt. Rev. Ime Brownson, Eld. (Dr.) Nathaniel Adiakpan and Rt. Rev. I. A. Obie.
The Retreat which started on Monday, February 17, and ends on Friday, February 21, 2020, was for the Primate, Archbishops, Bishops, Venerables, Canons, Reverend Ministers, Students Pastors, Evangelists, Lay Preachers and other workers of the African Church.