Retiring bishop of Ile-Oluji Anglican Diocese, Ondo State, Right Reverend Samson Olusegun Adekunle, tells RITA OKONOBOH how it feels retiring from active ministry as he clocks 70, his take on politicians and the electorate and his advice for clerics on starting and ending well in ministry.
AS the pioneer bishop of Ile-Oluji diocese, what are some of your achievements and how would you say the diocese has evolved in the past seven years of its creation?
We thank God because we have progressed according to our ability and we have cause to thank God for what He has done in the life of the diocese. When we came on board, there was no infrastructure on ground as it were. However, with the prayers and cooperation of the people, things started picking up. With time, we were able to construct an ultramodern Bishop’s Court, an administrative building which includes a chapel, chaplain’s house, among others. In fact, the primary school established by the Women’s Organisation a few years ago, was given the approval of the Ondo State government last week. About four churches were also started and completed, and when you consider the population of the area, that is quite commendable.
What challenges did you experience as bishop of Ile-Oluji diocese?
As a pioneer bishop, there were so many challenges. There was no money, so we had to raise funds by appealing to people. However, we thank God for the achievements so far because there was no time we called on people for support that we didn’t get. We also used the opportunity for burials, birthdays and other celebrations to get support from people who came to the diocese for such events.
What is your greatest testimony?
It is that I am leaving the diocese better than I met it. Membership has increased and we have worked to increase understanding of the word of God. The priests are doing very well, especially in evangelism and the people have been very supportive. The cathedral is now a place to reckon with.
Memorable moments in Ile-Oluji diocese?
I have enjoyed the support of the people and the establishment of the younger churches. I have no regrets coming to Ile-Oluji diocese, in spite of the challenges. As a leader, you can’t please everybody.
Now, you’re retiring, what would you miss about being in active ministry?
Firstly, I’ll be happy that I’ll be comfortable, that is, I will be able to rest (laughs). I was just discussing with the bishop who will succeed me and we were talking about the series of meetings a bishop has to attend, among other commitments. Now, I’ll have more time to enjoy family life. Also, I can be closer to my grandchildren.
How does it feel clocking 70?
It is the grace of God. When I look back at my life, I feel happy and grateful to God that He has led me so far. I feel fulfilled.
When you look back at the past 70 years, if you could, what would you change about yourself?
As a person, I’m a disciplinarian because of the influence of those who mentored me such as Bishop Akintayo, Bishop Adegbola (of blessed memory). I cherish their disciplined life. I would still want to be a very disciplined person.
What is your advice for the new bishop and the congregation as you retire?
They should move forward. They should build on the foundation which we have been able to lay by the grace of God, and support the work of evangelism. The sky is the limit.
Ondo State is preparing for election next month. How would you advise the electorate on making the right choice?
I would advise the electorate to choose well. Only God knows who the next governor is. In the charge at the last synod, we appealed to the electorate in Ondo State to do the right thing. We pray for a peaceful and successful gubernatorial election. Like I said, we cannot predict. See what is happening in the APC. Who could have predicted? It is not easy to predict these people. Only one person will be governor at the end of the day. Like Jesus said, there’s no one who is good. Of all of them, I haven’t seen any one of the politicians who is good. They are a disappointment.
You referred to the politicians as a disappointment. How would you advise them on becoming better leaders?
They should shun selfishness and the attitude of saying ‘I.’ Even those politicians who claim to be Christians, what do they have to show for it? Nobody wants to be humble. Twenty-four people want to be governor of one state. The situation of things is not palatable. They should embrace the example of the cross.
How would you advise government on ending the current economic recession?
They should continue to make efforts at revamping the economy.
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria stated recently that Christianity is under siege. With your experience as a cleric, how would you react to that statement?
That is his opinion and I don’t have any comment on that. I know that Christ is the anchor. God is the creator of Nigeria and He won’t allow us to perish. He will give us an ark like Noah to float and this country will soon float above recession.
You started well as a cleric and now as you retire, you are ending well. How would you advise clerics on ending well?
They should focus on Christ and ensure they fulfil their calling because being a cleric is not a profession, but a vocation, that is, a calling. So, clerics who have taken the decision to leave everything and follow Christ should be faithful to that call. Clerics should be more aggressive in spiritual life, rather than for material things.