In Awka, Chapel of Redemption Marks 164th CMS Anniversary with Love Feast

In Awka, Chapel of Redemption Marks 164th CMS Anniversary with Love Feast

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Christians have been advised to return to the original Christian lifestyle of strong faith, love, unity and hospitality, which the early Christians and Missionaries were known for.

The Chaplain, Chapel of Redemption, Temporary Site, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Ven. Dr. Obiorah Alokwu made the call while speaking at the occasion of marking the 164th anniversary of the advent of Christianity in Igbo land, which held at the church's premises in Awka, Anambra State capital.

In his homily at the event popularly known as CMS Anniversary, which is annually celebrated on July 27 by the Anglican faithful; Ven. Alokwu described the anniversary as a medium through which the Christians commemorate and acknowledge the efforts of the early missionaries in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ across the globe, especially as it concerns Igbo land.

Going memory lane, he narrated how the gospel and Christianity came into Igbo land in the year 1857 through Church Missionary Society, C.M.S., led by Sierra Leonean-Nigerian clergyman Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the highly reputed great Missioner of the C.M.S and first African Anglican Bishop of West Africa, who was earlier captured by Fulani slave raiders when he was about twelve years old, but was later resettled in Sierra Leone, after the British Naval Patrol rescued him from a slave ship.

Ven. Alokwu also narrated how, in the entire Igbo land, the early Church Missionaries first settled in Onitsha, where they were given large portion of land by the then traditional ruler of Onitsha, Obi, and from where they began to spread the gospel to other parts of Igbo land, with uncommon fervence, faith, love and unity and hospitality.

He also extolled the tolerance as well as the accommodating spirit of brotherhood displayed by the Anglican Missioners, who accommodated and also gave portions of lands to the Roman Catholic counterparts who arrived few years after they (the Anglican faithful) had settled in the land.

While recalling some obnoxious cultural practices that Christianity abolished in Igbo land, Ven. Alokwu also highlighted other numerous benefits that Christianity and consequent western education brought to mankind.

Citing 2nd Kings 7:9 and how the lepers spread the good news to their brothers without keeping it to themselves, the Anglican priest hailed the early missionaries for also spreading the good news and gospel without keeping it only to themselves; and therefore charged the Christians of today to emulate same gesture by spreading the good news and gospel of Jesus Christ to their neighbours, colleagues and relatives, to advance the kingdom of God.

He warned against denominational bigotry, disunity and lack of strong faith among Christians today.

"These were not what the Christians of old were known for; not at all. They had strong faith and walked in love, peace and unity. And that was why they were able to conquer and pass the message over to us. But today, the reverse seems to be the case, because those virtues and the originality everything seem to have been lost; and this is one of the major challenging factors that weaken Christianity today. Christians should wake up from their slumber," he said.

In their separate remarks, some of the participants at the event, Prof. Harry Obi-Nwosu (who is a twin), and Nneịfụnanya Helen Eze shared their early days experiences as Christians, reiterated their undying love for Christianity, due to its enormous benefits to mankind; even as they expressed optimism that Christianity has come to stay, and also cautioned Christians to refrain from lifestyles and cultural practices that are not in tandem with the faith.

The service, marked purely in Igbo language, featured special rendition of CMS anniversary anthem by the congregation and the Chapel Choir, as well as love feast, which made the celebration a convivial and memorial one indeed.