Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia writes that it was a new dawn for the Methodist Diocese of Uturu in Abia State, after it was inaugurated and saddled with a new shepherd, Rt. Rev Best Enyinnaya Okike, who was enthroned as the first Bishop of the new diocese
It was a joyous throng of the faithfuls as the Methodist Diocese of Uturu was inaugurated by the Prelate, His Eminence, Dr Samuel Kanu Uche, penultimate Wednesday. The faithfuls turned out in large numbers to welcome the new born diocese with a new shepherd, Rt. Rev Best Enyinnaya Okike, who was enthroned as the first Bishop of the new diocese.
The service of inauguration and enthronement held at the Methodist Cathedral of All Saints, Ukwunwangwu Uturu in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia state. The ceremony which took place on March 13, 2019, also involved the presentation of the Diocesan Lay President, Elder Macmillan Uche Ikpo and the dedication of the diocesan officers. This means that the new diocese has come with the full compliments of workers for the vineyard.
The Methodist Prelate in his sermon during the inauguration and enthronement service charged the faithfuls to suffuse themselves and the entire diocese with the word of God. In the sermon with the theme, ‘Knowledge of the word of God: key to successful and untainted Christian life’, Dr Uche said that children of God readily indulge in doing evil when they lack the word of God. He stated that the new diocese would definitely grow and blossom if it was nurtured with the word of God, adding that there can never be an overdose of divine word. “Overdose of the word of God makes you fresh,” he admonished the faithful.
To the new bishop, the prelate charged him to be productive and lead the faithfuls to a spiritual rebirth. According to him, the reason for the creation of the diocese “is to bring spiritual impact closer to the people and pour the word of god into their hearts”. He said that promotion in the church is now was based on merit and performance and not length of service, hence the new bishop must seek out creative ways to get the needed resources to grow the diocese.
The Archbishop of Okigwe, Most Rev. John Koko Bassey said that Uturu had been overdue to be carved out as a diocese. He noted that it was from here that the gospel traversed to several places, including Abakaliki in Ebonyi state. It was from Okigwe Archdiocese that Uturu diocese emerged after satisfying the conditions required for this status. It did not come easy as testified by Dr Jonas N. Ibeaja, who has been diocesan lay president for 20 years and was in the vanguard of the struggle for the creation of Uturu diocese.
In a chat with journalists on the side of the inauguration and enthronement ceremony, he expressed profound joy that “God has fulfilled his promises” with the creation of the new diocese. The retired medical doctor, who has been a Sunday school teacher in Uturu for over four decades, was specially recognized by the Prelate for the role he played during the struggle for Uturu diocese to become a reality. Sir Ibeaja said that he had received a revelation and divine assurance that on the birth of Uturu diocese. He said: “On March 30, 1999 God revealed to me that I’ll build three thrones, one at Okigwe, one at St John where I worship and now the new diocese. According to him, the desire to have the Uturu Methodist diocese was so infectious that non Methodist were inspired by God to contribute in building the diocese, adding that the local church was built by a catholic, who is also involved in building of the cathedral. He described the new bishop as a man “physically and spiritually endowed” hence the new diocese would grow in leaps and bounds.
The idea of creating a diocese for Methodist churches in Uturu was sown like a seed in 1983 and it was not until 35 years later that the seed germinated. The decision for the creation of Uturu diocese was taken at the 46th/11th Biennial Conference of Methodist Church Nigeria at Wesley Cathedral Aba from August 6 to 13, 2018. It was also at the conference that the Rt. Rev. Best Enyinnaya Okike was elected as the bishop of Uturu.
The inauguration and enthronement ceremony attracted many dignitaries from within and outside the new diocese. They included former governor of old Anambra state, Chief Jim Nwobodo and former chief of army staff (COAS) Gen Azubuike Ihejirika.
The ceremony was also graced by important figures from the headquarters of the Methodist Church Nigeria, including secretary of conference, Rt. Rev. Michael Akinwale; Connexional secretary for evangelism and discipleship, Rt. Rev. Samuel Obeka and Lay President of Conference, Sir Folu Aremu. To put the new diocese on sound financial footing, a fund raising was held as a component of the inauguration ceremony.