“We stand on the shoulders of giants” – Bishop Akinleye Kehinde Ojumu was one of my giants. Beyond being a giant of great stature, Bishop Ojumu was a spiritual giant, almost of John Wesley’s height in life, 5foot 1 inch. The late Bishop Ojumu tremendously influenced many people’s lives – clergy and laity. I first met him in 1994 at Methodist Church Nigeria headquarters, Wesley House, Lagos, when he took over from prelate emeritus, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde as a Chaplain to prelate emeritus, His Eminence Sunday Mbang.
I learned of him more upon reading his first contribution to the Methodist News titled, Ministers also cry. Bishop Ojumu warned ministers against Christian and secular cultures that indoctrinate us that to cry is to demonstrate weakness, give up, and fail to have what it takes to face a crisis. According to Bishop Ojumu, as ministers, we must not fear to admit our weakness and, at times, grieve, be fearful, and be broken as we pastor.
I recall being notably inspired by Bishop Ojumu’s evident evangelical passion, scholarly competence, soft persuasive preaching and teachings, and his passion for the Methodist revival and leadership renewal. As a part of the entourage on the Prelate’s Apostolic tour of Northern Nigeria – Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, and Jos in 1995, Bishop Ojumu’s simplicity of lifestyle and contentment was evident and inspiring. He was a Bible person around could read and believe in the Gospel. Bishop Ojumu was a model of a relational leader who acted without the formality of a title. Bishop Ojumu’s mentorship, influence, and authority came from the trust, respect, and love established in the relationship around the people. This is counter-cultural to position leadership, with a specific position, a formal title, and deriving influence and authority solely from this position.
Bishop Ojumu’s sacrificial and disciplined behaviour as a leader was prescribed by being “in Christ” and being transformed daily into His likeness, regardless of the outcomes. Bishop Ojumu was able to lead and relate according to God’s own heart, which produced an outcome that continues to glorify God through his wife, children, grandchildren, and students.
Bishop Ojumu was born on January 6, 1949, in Ijebu-Jesa, Ori-Ade Local Government Area Osun State, into the family of Chief Jacob Bojomimo Ojumu and Beatrice Olusola Ojumu. He was baptized at Otapete Methodist Church, Ilesa (now Otapete Methodist Cathedral) on February 20, 1949, by Rev. E. Bolaji Idowu, the first Patriarch of Methodist Church Nigeria, His-Pre-Eminence Bolaji of blessed memory.
Bishop Ojumu attended St. Matthew’s Primary School, Ijebu-Jesa, from 1956-1964. He sat for his first Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination in 1964. He had his Secondary School Education at Methodist High School, Imesi-lle High School. He had Ministerial Training at Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, and graduated in June 1976. He attended Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University Dallas, Texas, USA, from 1980 to 1984.
Bishop Ojumu worked as a Local Agent at Methodist Church Olodo in 1970 and 4974. He was Minister at Methodist Church Ifofin, Ilesa, from 1976-1978. He served as a Lecturer and Registrar at the Methodist Lay Training Institute from 1978-1980, where Sub-Pastors and Deaconesses were trained.
On his return from the USA in December 1984, the church stationed him as a Lecturer and Registrar at the Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu. He worked as Presbyter of Oshodi Circuit from 1986 – 1991. He worked as a Senior Lecturer at the Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, from 1994 – 1993. He served as Prelate’s Chaplain to His Eminence Sunday Mbang, and Bishop of Tinubu from January 1994 to November 2001. He served as Bishop of Kwara from December 2001 to November 2006. He served as Bishop of Agodi Diocese from December 2006 to January 2008.
Bishop Ojumu’s love for the ministry started right from his youthful days. He used to follow Rev. D. B. Esan to some out stations for evangelism. His principal at Imesi-lle High School, Late Hon. A. O. Siyanbola appreciated his zeal for ministry in him and encouraged this process by recommending him to Archbishop. Amos Abiodun. Omodunbi.For young evangelicals, especially Methodist evangelicals, in their early years of discipleship and ministry, Bishop Ojumu was a great encouragement. Here was a man who had devoted his entire life to ministry within Methodist Church Nigeria. Bishop Ojumu’s thinking was clear, his writings articulate, and his judgments balanced. Bishop Ojumu was a person of kindness, mannerliness, and carefulness, not someone who was easy to get to know, but someone who, perhaps because of a degree of privacy and distance, ‘was able to hold together and influence vast numbers of disparate evangelicals and gain the respect of many beyond the evangelical fold.’ Bishop Ojumu will always be remembered for his leadership roles at Methodist Evangelical Convention, Orimerunmu 2000, and the Methodist Evangelical Quarterly Revival, Power As of Old at Ibadan.
Bishop Ojumu was happily married to Mrs. Adetoun Kehinde Ojumu, and the marriage was blessed with three children. Bishop Ojumu was blessed with a very long life of service to the Lord, and he loved his family. Bishop Ojumu passed on to glory on Monday, January 7, 2008.
Fifteen years after, Bishop Ojumu’s legacy sets a Biblically-based example of honesty and transparency in episcopal and leadership in general. Bishop Ojumu reminds us that authentic, honest, God-pleasing missional leadership must admit to being human and ready for change.