The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, has said the lingering crisis rocking the Qua Iboe Church in Nigeria would be over “soon”.
Mr Emmanuel stated this on Sunday during a special church service to celebrate the 100 years of the Church in Asuna, Etinan Local Government Area of the state.
The 131-year-old church in Nigeria split into two factions about 17 years ago when some members, uncomfortable with the name Qua Iboe, pushed for a change of name to United Evangelical Church.
Governor Emmanuel, in February 2017, had convened a peace meeting at the Government House, Uyo, with the factional leaders of the church.
Those present at the 2017 meeting included a former chief of air staff in Nigeria, Nsikak Eduok, and a retired major-general and former director-general of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Edet Akpan. Both men, who are very influential in the church affairs, belong to different factions.
“We’ve gone very far on the reconciliation and we will soon be there,” the governor, who is a member and a deacon of the Qua Iboe Church, told the congregation in Asuna, during the service.
He was accompanied to the church service by the Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo; the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Emmanuel Ekuwem; the senator representing Uyo Senatorial District, Bassey Albert; Federal House of Representatives member, Samuel Ikon; and several commissioners.
The governor appealed to the leadership of the two factions to have an open mind for peace and unity to return to the church.
He spoke about his past effort to reconcile the church.
“I gathered all the pastors and elders and told them I had only five minutes to reconcile the church if one person can raise his hand and say this is what God says about the situation. Nobody could do that.
“So, because nobody could do that I could only say let everybody hold their peace and let’s see what God would do,” he said.
“Nobody can say this is what God is saying about this matter. We need to find a Christian solution to the issue.
“I believe very soon, very very soon, this should be over and we will be back again as one body.”
Governor Emmanuel said it was only through God’s grace that the Qua Iboe Church in Asuna could stand for 100 years.
“The Bible says that the gate of hell shall never prevail over the church of God,” he said. “Any church that is founded truthfully, no matter what happens, that church can never shake.”
He advised the leadership of the factions to be reconciliatory in their utterances.
“I am not overriding the church, but permit me to say that ‘founded as’ is not the same thing as ‘also known as’. ‘Also known as’ is reconciliatory, while ‘founded as’ does not allow for a change we just preached now.
“Even if we write ‘founded as’, but when we are speaking, we should say ‘also known as’, it will be a little bit more accommodating so that we can find a way to bring everybody back.”
The governor donated a bus and N10 million to the church in Asuna. The money, he said, was not a donation from the state government, but a personal one from him and other friends of Asuna.
Qua Iboe Church was founded around 1887 by an Irish missionary, Samuel Bill, who served in Ibeno, in the present day Akwa Ibom State.
The church, whose headquarters is in Uyo, derived its name from the Qua Iboe River.
The pastor of the Asuna church spoke on how the crisis has affected the fortunes of the church in Nigeria.
“In the glorious days of this church, schools were opened, hospitals were built. Scholarships were given to our children to study abroad.
“And then what has happened now?
“The society is watching to see how we will resolve the issue we are having. The reproach of this church has reached the zenith. Qua Iboe Church used to be a church that was honoured everywhere,” the pastor said during the sermon.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...