ADDRESS/REPORT BY THE CHAPLAIN TO THE GENERAL MEETING, NIGERIAN METHODISTS CHAPLAINCY, UK/IRELAND ON SUNDAY 23rd JULY, 2017 AT CHIGWELL RETREAT CENTRE.
THEME: GOD’S WORD, OUR GUIDE
Mission purpose: The Chaplaincy is a renewal and mission platform/agent within the British Conference seeking to equip and nurture Nigerian Methodists and other Christians in their discipleship and engage them to enrich Methodism in UK and beyond by enabling members to integrate and use their gifts within their local churches and fellowships.
Introduction: To God be the glory for His amazing grace over us since our last Conference in Rainham. Let me also express my sincere appreciation to all the Chaplaincy Management Committee (CMC) members and all our members for their punctuality in Chaplaincy programmes, especially our monthly vigil. We give thanks to God for the outcome of the last General Election in UK and the 2017 British Methodist Conference in Birmingham. We congratulates The President and Vice President – Rev Loraine Mellor and Jill Baker and shared in their concerns on the current state of the church. We share in their vision in taking radical risks to change its culture, especially the rate of membership decline. Watch out for our prayer-guide booklet on this. We congratulates the Assistant Secretary of the Conference, the Revd Dr Jonathan R Hustler and rejoice with the new presbyters and deacons received into the church full Connexion.
We believe that the Chaplaincy as a mission agency is a renewing gift of Connexionalism, a means of grace in the 21st Century. The British Methodist report setting out a 3.5%-on-year rapid decline in our membership over the past decade, with the number of members standing at 188,000 is of great concern to us, and this calls for concerted prevailing intercession and dynamic evangelism. Nigerian Methodists Chaplaincy believe God is at work in the affairs of this nation and churches. The Chaplaincy, as agent and a platform of renewal within the British Methodist Church is developing to offer witness and worship in new places, or in places where Christianity presence has long since diminished. Our annual conference is a time to come apart to address and answer the question ‘do we have a renewing and revival plan’ with the answer becoming part of our MAP (Mission Act Plan). This fourth year of the Chaplaincy/the third year of our inauguration anniversary, and end of the third year of our Management committee calls for a rethink and commitment to our purpose in such a time as this. God requires our commitment over material comforts.
The theme for our conference is ‘God’s Word, our Guide’ (Acts 6:1-7). Our Father, John Wesley was a man of One Book – Bible, our chat, compass, rule book of faith and practice. God’s Word was Wesley’s guide and the source of inspiration behind the 18th century re-awakening. God still speaks, and He does so through His Word. God uses His Word to teach, rebuke, correct, and instruct His people (2 Tim. 3:16). God’s primary means for giving us guidance is the Bible. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit'” (John 3:5). During this conference, please be ready to be canon-minded, guided by the clear principles of God’s written Word. In the book of Proverbs, we read: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” When God guides through the knowledge of the scripture and personal knowledge of God, we acknowledge Him in our work, in our family, in our personal life, in our thought life, in our recreation, in everything you do, you acknowledge that God is in control of you. When God’ Word guides, we become obedient to His Word, we live in subjection to His Spirit, and keep our eye upon Him. What guides us grows us.
Looking at the world today, we are witnessing a significant decline and commitment to God’s Word, hence, we are surrounded by the weeds of Mammon-driven world (Matt 13). We profess commitment but do we live up to its obedience? Lack of commitment is spilling over into our spiritual lives. Our commitment to the chaplaincy could be measure personally in our attendance, or service, gifting, or giving. Jesus demands our total commitment to His Word and mission. The fulfilment of the Chaplaincy’s vision shaped by the five year Mission Action Plan (MAP) demands our total commitment especially at this pioneering years. We need more commitment and mentoring of our youths to become natural evangelists and a new generation of lay leaders. As I mentioned last year, our vision which goes beyond cultural or social inclinations calls us to a renewing witnessing, an evangelistically effective Chaplaincy. We are called to be a witnessing Chaplaincy which is beyond the concept of an exclusive cultural community gathered around a cultural clergy.
We need more commitment and workers in the Chaplaincy Management Team, Prayer/Counselling ministry, Pastoral Care, nurturing of members (especially the Youth). ‘Every members witnessing’ has the potential to increase our commitment and punctuality to our Major missional/ outreaches – OnetoOne band/network, Monthly vigil/Reflection, Lent community Hymn and Praise Singing, Nigeria Independence Praise and Hymn Singing, Chaplaincy’s anniversary Love Feast, Annual Harvest Celebration, Mission on the Street, Christmas Carol/End of the Year Prayer Rally, and the publications of Tracts/the quarterly magazine – Worthy is the Lamb. The Mission on the Street with Gospel banner in major locations in London in December 2016 and April 2017 were well received with good testimonies. I think we can improve on these events during major celebrations.
Chaplaincy Management Committee (CMC): Since our last Conference at Rainham Methodist Church in June 2016, we have experienced some major expansions. Some achievements over the year include:
- The general monthly vigil in London continues to offer a renewing understanding of our calling within the British Methodism. We need more commitment from the CMC members and Church representatives especially during our quarterly meetings.
- Expansion: By the grace of God, the Chaplaincy had a Community Christmas Carol in December, 2016 at Manchester and the District Chair preached a very inspiring sermon. Let us continue to pray for the Manchester Fellowship. The Chaplaincy is making inroad to Glasgow, Sheffield, and Birmingham. Within London, we hope to inaugurate before the end of the year our Fellowships in St Mark Methodist Church, Miller Memorial, Methodist Church, Clapham and Tooting Methodist Churches.
- Women’s Fellowship: The Women’s Fellowship continue to promote spiritual development among the member through their quarterly prayer meeting. The Women’s retreat held on Saturday 29th April was very successful and new idea of visiting different local churches started in Bermondsey Methodist early this month.
- Men’s Fellowship: The plan to inaugurate the Men’s Fellowship in 2016 could not materialise. Kindly pray along with our Men. .
- Pastoral Care: The Chaplaincy continue to complements the care offered by local congregation by providing a unique pastoral care for Nigerians, engaging them in their distinctive language and cultural expectations and celebrations.
- Youth/Children Fellowship: The CMC is praying and working towards the inauguration Youth/Children Fellowship in 2017.
- Patrons’ Forum: In order to spread and further the mission and vision of the Chaplaincy, we appointed Sir Chief Bode Akindele as the Grand Patron and two Patrons – Sir Kehinde Smith and Mrs Nwabueze Nwokolo for guidance and encouragement. There is plan to host a Patrons; Forum before the next Conference
- Camp Meetings: We held the third Chaplaincy Renewal/Coming Alive Camp Meeting on Saturday 28th January, 2017 at Chigwell Convent, London. We had a very renewing experience during the Camp meeting.
- Chaplaincy Harvest: 2016 Chaplaincy Harvest was held at Clampham Methodist Church with Rev Dr Jenny Smith as the preacher. We received good donation of food items, mostly tin food and special thanks to all the members for their generous donation. As part of our social responsibility to the community, all the food items collected were donated to Home-Start, in Harold Hill.
- Appreciation: On behalf of the Chaplaincy, l hereby express our profound appreciation to Mrs Ogundipe for donating a 54 keys-teaching type Electronic keyboard MK2054 to the Chaplaincy.
- Memorial: We remember in prayer the following members who have gone to be with the Lord during the year: Mrs Jaiyesimi, Mrs Adenipekun, and Mr Adebiyi.
- Finance: The Treasurer will give us the update on this, but members’ response to the monthly subscription still needs to be improved upon. I will also like to thank some individuals for their generous givings towards the Chaplaincy.
Inauguration of Regional Fellowships: In line with the Chaplaincy Mission Map on expansion, from 2017, we intend to inaugurate more local and regional fellowships of the Chaplaincy in different churches and regions of UK/Ireland. We are presently working with some of our members in Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, and Aberdeen. We need the Nigerian Conference home support and awareness in this regard. You also can become a personal contact with friends across Europe.
Summer Evangelism and Soul Winning: We hope to facilitate mobile evangelism during this summer with display of Christian banner ‘JESUS SAVES,’ and distribution of tracts in major cities and towns in UK.
Contributions to Methodist Church in Britain – The Chaplain will continue to enrich and promote renewal within the British Methodism. With close contact with our home (Nigerian) Conference, we have started to collate a list of youth and professional Nigerian Methodist members residing or coming into the UK/Ireland for studies, holiday, medical tourism, and business. This is to promote integration of Nigerians into different local churches across the British/Irish Methodist Conference.
Contribution to One Mission Forum in Germany:. I could not follow up the opportunities I had during my visit to Germany in 2016 due to lack of communication from Germany. I hope to follow up on this for the 2018 Mission Forum.
On the wider British Connexion: We continue to encourage our members in local preaching and ministerial training. We also have a good numbers of our members serving as presbyters and in different lay positions, some as local church stewards, Circuit treasurers, members of Synods, and we hope to disciple and support more qualified members.
Contribution to the Circuit: With my 50% appointment based in Romford Circuit where l am presently pastoring two churches, mostly with few aged members, the vision is to integrate more worshippers. As part of our renewal mission in UK, we hold Prayer-Rain in Rainham, a monthly prayer meeting for revival in United Kingdom every second Sunday evening of the month. I also write periodic scriptural reflection in my local churches newsletter and to other circuit members. Based on the new plan by the Romford Circuit to reduce their minister to 3.5, I will be on stationing process in 2018.
Support to Nigerian Health Care Project (NHCP): The CMC agreed during our last meeting to be supporting the NHCP with £250 annually. Presently the Patron of NHCP, Chief Bode Akindele is the Grand Patron of the Chaplaincy and we have about five members of the Chaplaincy on the NHCP board of trustee including Mrs Susan Solanke as the Vice Chairman.
Wesley Pilgrimage: We continue to pray and plan to facilitate an annual WESLEY PILGRIMAGE in form of ministerial, laity and youth exchange programme between the British and Nigerian Methodist members. This is still open to improvement by the members. We also plan to produce exercise note books for all the Methodist Theological Seminary in Nigeria.
Hassan Odukale Methodist Theological Institute, Zonkwa, Northern Nigeria, and the Internally Displaced People in North Eastern Nigeria (IDP): The CMC agreed to raise fund in support of the two project. More suggestions are welcome to achieve this, please.
Conclusion: In order to promote the general understanding of the role of the Chaplaincy, we need to raise awareness both within the Nigerian members’ home and abroad about the renewal mission of the Chaplaincy in UK and Ireland. Bearing in mind that the Chaplaincy is still at the pioneering stage, we hereby solicit for the following: 18 seater’s bus, Nigerian Chaplaincy House/Office, Bible and our hymn books in different Nigerian languages, Choir gown/musical equipment, Chaplaincy uniform, and Membership drive.
Beloved, remember, what you believe, you become. Our belief in God’s Word becomes our world. If our leaf is not to wither, and whatsoever we do is to prosper then our delight must be in the law of the Lord. And we must meditate therein day and night as Psalms 1:2-3 teaches us. I pray, at the end of this Conference, our hearts will overflow with the joy of the Lord, knowing that we are new creations and not anymore in condemnation, but guided by God’Word.
PLEASE BE A PART OF SUMMER EVANGELISM IN YOUR COMMUNITY.