On behalf of the leadership and the Mission members of the Nigerian Methodist Mission, UK, and Ireland, I wish to convey our joyful congratulations to our Mission Enabler, Prelate emeritus, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Dr. Sunday Makinde, on the occasion of your 80th birthday.

 Enriched by faith over these 80 years, you have so generously made a gift of yourself to the service of Christ and his Church. We congratulate you and join with the Methodist people globally in celebrating your life of faith and service.

It will forever be a highlight to have worked for and with you in proclaiming the sacred Gospel and the dignity of human life. Your courage, faithfulness, and clarity in proclaiming and defending our Methodist faith have been a solid anchor in a culture awash in confusion and decadence. 

His Eminence Makinde, a product of ‘Asaba Ordinis’ and the last episcopal nominee of the Patriarch of Nigerian Methodist Episcopacy, His Pre-Eminence Professor Bolaji Idowu to retire, points us to Methodist corporate episcope beyond missional ecclesiology. Nigerian Methodist episcopacy refocuses our attention on mission spirituality that makes authentic discipleship the heart of Nigerian Methodism.

Thirty years ago, when I resumed as the Conference Acting Editor, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Makinde, who was then serving as the Chaplain to His Eminence Sunday Mbang, prayed for me at his office on the first floor of Wesley House, Marina, Lagos. He said, “Deji, you have a future in the church. Your decision to serve God with your academic background is a plus to the church, and God will surely reward you.” I later discovered the bond of episcopacy between His Eminence Makinde and the then Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Grace, Most Rev Abiodun Omodunbi. His Eminence Makinde, as one of the students of Archbishop Omodunbi, described Archbishop Omodunbi as a great man, a lover of education. Prelate Makinde said, “Archbishop Omodunbi was a teacher of teachers, pastor of pastors. He was an extraordinarily contented leader. His students were made bishops the same day as him. He was contented teaching and imparting Wesleyan and New Testament concepts of church leadership in school while his mates were made bishop. Nigerian Methodism needs contented leaders like him. His ministry was productive. He raised and produced a prelate, archbishops, bishops, presbyters, and priests of high integrity. I am proud to be one of his students. I am proud to be his brother. I am very proud to be one of his products.” [1]

The story about the development and growth of Nigerian Methodist Chaplaincy to a registered Charity in the United Kingdom, Nigerian Methodist Mission, under a bishop’s oversight, is incomplete without mentioning His Eminence Makinde. It is on record, ‘in June 2010, at the All-Partners Consultations (APC) held in Britannia Hotel, London, His Eminence Makinde and a former President and General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Britain, the Rev Dr Martyn Atkins met and agreed on behalf of the two Conferences to the need for a Chaplain for the Nigerian Methodists in the UK. The Consultation considered how the Methodist Church in Britain might explore with partners the best structure through which future mission partners might develop while pursuing scriptural holiness. This development led to the emergence of the Nigerian Methodist Chaplaincy in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2013. 

In August 2007, when I gained admission to Cliff College, United Kingdom, His Eminence Makinde while introducing me to the then Principal of Cliff College and President, Methodist Church in Britain, Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, wrote, ‘I hereby introduce to you Very Rev Deji Okegbile, who is on postgraduate study at Cliff College. He is a Minister of the Methodist Church Nigeria. He is on a private scholarship, one of our best and spirit-filled ministers.’ I assured His Eminence Makinde that I would return to Nigeria after my studies. To the glory of God, on the completion of my master’s degree and Doctoral studies, I returned to Nigeria on December 31, 2011. I wrote to His Eminence Makinde ‘that I am available for further posting and instruction as may be divinely ordained by God through your esteemed leadership in Methodist Church Nigeria.’ The 43rd/8th Biennial Conference of Methodist Church held in the Diocese of Lagos Mainland between the 6th and 13th of August 2012 posted me to the Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu, effective October 15, 2012.

His Eminence Makinde asked me to see him in his office in November 2012. At this point, he told me that there is a mission work to be done in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He said some names have been suggested, but a request was made for me. After I successfully went through an interview with the Methodist Church in Britain, I was offered the post of Chaplaincy for Nigerian Methodists living in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Through the guidance of Dr Bunmi Olayisade of the African Mission desk, Methodist Church in Britain, who liaised me with Rev Wesley Campbell, Irish Mission Secretary, I visited many circuits in the Republic of Ireland, meeting with some Nigerian Methodists. I was later stationed to serve 50% of my time in the Nigerian Methodist fellowship, United Kingdom, and Ireland and 50% as a circuit minister in the Methodist Church in Britain.

Birthdays are among the most vivid reminders of our common humanity and call to journey through time with each other. Today, His Eminence Makinde, we give thanks with you simply for the gifts of life, ministry, and experience – and for the beginning of a new year of challenge; we wish you and Dame Elizabeth Makinde, your amiable wife, who has so devotedly supported you and all that you have stood for, many more happy years in Jesus’ name. 

  [1] http://dejiokegbile.com/episcopacy-from-the-heart-archbishop-omodunbi-a-quintessential-methodist-episcopal-frontliner/