The transition of Architect, Paul Ekwo Udenyi, the Pioneer Methodist Archdiocesan Lay President of the then Archdiocese of the North is a trade in of his physical existence in anticipation and preparation for his future resurrection at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Arc Udenyi was a loving husband, caring father, grandfather, Counsellor, mentor, and an Idoma from Ijaha in Apa Local Government of Benue State was born on March 17th 1951. His parents Very Rev and Mrs Peter Udenyi serve the Methodist church for many years. The father, nearly 100 years old died some years ago.
Arc Udenyi attended Wesley High School, Otukpo, between 1966 -1970 for his Ordinary levels, West Africa Examination Certificate. For his Higher School Certificate, he attended Boys’ Secondary School, Gindiri, Plateau State between 1971-1972. For his university education, he studied Environmental Design/Architecture at undergraduate, Bachelor of Science, and post-graduate Master of Science at Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State.
Arc Udenyi met his wife Sis Caroline Modupe as early as 1978 at the same Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) at the Ahmadu Bello University main campus, Zaria. According to Arc Udenyi, ‘the actual incident that brought us here was a get- well card I innocently sent to her as a sister in the fellowship when she was once ill. That sparked off some form of suspicion and gossip from the other fellowship sisters in her hostel block, Queen Amina Hall.’ Arc Udenyi and his wife ‘both had our NYSC primary assignment at the University of Ilorin.’
In an interview Arc Udenyi and his wife, Caroline granted to Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye of Sun Newspaper as Diamond Couple to mark their 40th wedding anniversary in October 2020, they both pointed to God’s faithfulness, their obedience to God and Christian integrity as the secret of their happy cross-cultural marriage. Arc Udenyi, an Idoma stock of Benue State marriage to Sis Caroline, a Yoruba woman from Osun Sate points us to ‘the Udenyi’s principle of co-existence’ as a legacy and model for a politically, religiously, and ethnically divided nation like Nigeria. Against serious oppositions and fear of cultural differences from Arc Paul’s and Caroline’s parents, they decided not to disobey them but wait patiently with prayer. After some months, according to Sis Caroline, ‘the permission was given to me to start a relationship with him. Patience, humility, and honouring one’s parents were vital as we waded through that stage.’
On the choice for marriage, Arc Udenyi explained that ‘there was an agreement I had with God – something, in particular, that would identify her for me. If you like, I had placed a fleece before the Lord like Gideon did in the Bible in Judges 6:36-40. The very moment I saw what I had agreed with God as the sign of His choice, I knew that she was the one.’ Until Arc Udenyi’s transition on December 21st, 2020, his marriage to his wife Caroline for 40 years is blessed with four daughters – Jemimah Adesina, Keziah Folarin-Babatunde, Daisy Yusuf, and Evangeline Dan-Yusuf, all of whom are married. Arc Udenyi was blessed with six grandchildren. On reflection, Sis Caroline describe Christian marriage as ‘a journey of faith in God and in each other’ as a man and a woman.
Since his early Christian conversion coupled with his disciplined and spiritual upbringing, Arc Udenyi was full of holiness zeal and Wesleyan passion for soul winning especially at Wesley High School, Otukpo. In the early days of evangelical and the Scripture Union Fellowship, Arc Udenyi was among brethren that stood up for Methodism when people were recognised along their denominational lines. Arc Udenyi led other brethren in Otukpo to host the meeting of all coordinators of Evangelical fellowships in Methodist Church Nigeria facilitated by Rev Femi Oladele and Bro J K Udensi. The meeting was held at Jesus College, Otukpo, on 16th November, 1985. The follow up to Otukpo meeting was the official inauguration of the National Congress of Evangelising Methodists (NACEM) on February 22nd 1986 ‘by His Grace, Most Rev Dr J .N Dimoji, the then Archbishop of Enugu … He acted as a member of this group no in his capacity as a church functionary.’ Arc Udenyi was elected as the National Coordinator with Bro J K Udensi, as the Assistant National Coordinator. In his capacity as the National Coordinator of NACEM, Arc Udenyi worked with Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Archbishop Dr Joseph Sunday Ajayi, Very Rev Dr Mike Oye, Rev Femi Oladele, Barr Femi Osundahunsi, Bishop John Bamgboye, Rev Ogbonnaya, Very Rev Nwanome, Bro Gbade Adeleke, Engr Lanre Fakolade, Prof Mrs Joke Jibowo and many others on the need and formation of one evangelical body within the church, hence the emergence of Methodist Evangelical Movement (MEM) in 1988.
Arc Udenyi served as Circuit Steward of old Kaduna North Circuit, Senior Local Church Steward, Trinity Methodist Church, Kaduna. With Archbishop Joseph Ajayi, as the Director of Evangelism, Arc Udenyi was the first National Deputy/Lay Director of MEM. He served the church using his time and resources to further the growth of the Methodism especially in Northern Nigeria. Arc Udenyi encouraged and sponsored many ministerial candidates from the Archdiocese of the North for training at Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu. With Archbishop Achigili, Arc Udenyi served as the pioneer Archdiocesan Lay President, Archdiocese of the North.
Arc Udenyi, a wonderful paradox, an evangelical conservative fundamentalist was an example of a Methodist Christian, and an unapologetic evangelical. Sir Folorunso Ogunjiyigbe, a Legal Adviser, Methodist Church Nigeria described Arc Udenyi as ‘a son of the manse, a genuine Christian, committed and very honest Methodist. Some leaders see him as antagonistic and very blunt when it comes to issue of MEM because he speaks his mind with conviction. Some were even afraid, thinking he wanted to start a new church.’ Bishop Olu Akinola described Arc Udenyi as a ‘great evangelical leader … so much committed to the things of the kingdom and the gospel of Christ.’ Bro Chukwuma Nkwuagba described Arc Udenyi as ‘a worthy soldier of the cross, tested and trusted.’ Very Rev Sanya Adepoju recalled Arc Udenyi’s ‘role in the revival wave in the Methodist movement in the early ’90s.’ Very Rev Omotunde Ewuola who worked with Arc Udenyi in Kaduna described him as ‘son of the manse… Soldier of Christ.’ Bishop Edoka Amuta, a former, Methodist Bishop of Evangelism and now Bishop of Ito, Benue State, described Arc Udenyi as his ‘first ever church steward in my first church.’ According to Bishop Amuta, “I will go emotional if l talk about Paul Udenyi. Simply, he was my lay father in God.”
Arc Udenyi will not compromise anything about Methodist Scriptural holiness, hence his stands on some church decisions evokes his name as different pictures to different people. To those who hold the Methodist evangelical faith precious, Arc Udenyi exhibited everything a true Christian leader, husband, father, and mentor should be. His contribution at Methodist meetings and Conferences always emphasised Methodism not just as a form of religion but a sanctifying network for personal and corporate renewal.
Arc Udenyi was the Principal Architect at Sheltarcon Associates from 1980 till date. He was Lead Counsellor at Paul and Carol Ministries, a ministry to marriages and families since 1981. Arc Udenyi was also Elder-in-Charge of family life at Kingdom Lifeline Apostolic Ministries.