A prophet gets honoured in his hometown

•The story of Osoogun and Samuel Ajayi Crowther

It may not be an exaggeration to say that the first African Anglican Bishop, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, would have been delighted in his grave with the honour bestowed on him by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), last Wednesday when the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba, led other top officials of the church, dignitaries and members to the country home of Ajayi Crowther, Osoogun, to dedicate laudable projects in his honour.

Primate Ndukuba and other archbishops and bishops were led on a tour round the historic town by the diocese bishop, Right Reverend Olugbenga Oduntan.

The event, which was part of the just-completed projects of the Diocese of Ajayi Crowther, created an avenue for the leadership of the church to celebrate the first African Anglican Bishop of West Africa in a grand style as a mission centre close to his residence and named after him was dedicated.

Tribune Church gathered that Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther Mission Centre’s facilities include a modern cathedral, hall, guest house, security post, and gate-house and rectory, among others. A hospital and other facilities would soon be completed. The church also promised to transfer Crowther’s remains to a befitting site in his hometown.

Speaking at the event, Primate Ndukuba eulogised Ajayi Crowther, noting that he was happy to celebrate the great religious icon, who stood for the growth of the gospel against all odds in Nigeria.

He also seized the opportunity to charge Christians not to be overwhelmed with the happenings of the end time that might make them fall by the wayside through trials and temptations, just as he urged Christians to ‘take heed and be upright in the things of God.’

Primate Ndukuba also urged Christians at large to hold on to God, irrespective of challenges and temptations, adding that “God has mandated us to run the race, persevere and be committed. I don’t know what people might be facing presently, but I am not sure it can be greater than what Ajayi Crowther passed through.

“He was ridiculed by little ones and he died of a broken heart; but when God’s turning point comes, no one can stop Him. The names of everyone that fought and discredited him are not even heard today but the memory of the righteous is always precious, not only to God, but to God’s people,” he said.

He added that honouring Ajayi Crowther was long overdue and naming the mission centre after him in his hometown was not enough due to the great impact he made on the growth of the church and Christianity in Nigeria.

“We are delighted to be here to celebrate an exceptional church leader who fought for the future of the Chu    rch. I also congratulate the Anglican Diocese of Ajayi Crowther for their resilience in the propagation of the gospel in the jurisdiction,” he added.

Ndukuba described the country home of Ajayi Crowther, Osoogun, as the Bethlehem that has produced such a great man. He also prayed that the God that delivered Crowther from the slavery of men will fight the battle of Nigeria’s insecurity and restore safety and total freedom to all.

Archbishop of Ibadan Province, Most Reverend Segun Okubadejo, noted that the event was phenomenal, as the Church of Nigeria deemed it fit to converge on the country home of Bishop Crowther, adding that “immortalising him is long overdue and the Church of Nigeria felt that it is high time we celebrated him. This is why we have put up this centre in his memory and it will be a tourist and mission centre. We also hope to put a museum in the centre as we will exhume his remains from Lagos.

“He played a significant role in the history of the church. Without what he did, we cannot be. We thank God for what he did and we are so elated that this is happening in our own time of this historical event. It is a project of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and we are happy that our province is the first to host the Primate to have dedicated a significant project like this since he assumed the office,” he said.

Archbishop of Lagos Ecclesiastical Province and Bishop of Remo Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Olusina Fape, said that the event will go down in the annals of the history of the Church of Nigeria that a great man eventually has been recognised. He said with the naming of a diocese after him, Bishop Ajayi Crowther had been given a place of prominence in the history of Nigeria.

“It is one thing to name a diocese, as it were, after him, but it is another thing for him to be recognised in his birthplace. Just as Bethlehem was with Jesus, so is Osoogun to Ajayi Crowther.  So, at our converging on the soil of his birthplace, Osoogun marked the beginning of the real celebration of the spiritual icon whose ministry dating back to 1864 even predated the coming into existence of Nigeria. So the development is an epoch-making event for which generations yet unborn will thank God for as regards the ministry of the Church of Nigeria in recognising Bishop Ajayi Crowther in his country home,” he added.

According to the Archbishop of the Kwara Province and Bishop of the Diocese of New Bissau Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Afolabi Amoo, the development is “a celebration and appreciation of our past heroes as a people and nation. The church is leading by example by showing that we cannot forget our hero, especially the first African bishop and the man that translated the Bible into Yoruba language.

“In fact, what has just been done in his honour was not enough, and I am hopeful that we will do more in the future. We also look forward to the federal and state governments attending to Osoogun as a community that has produced a great son everybody is celebrating all over the world. You need to go to the Eastern part of the country to see how much they value Ajayi Crowther. It is a wake-up call for us in Yorubaland and Oyo State to celebrate the great icon.”

In his remarks, Right Reverend Oduntan, appreciated Primate Ndukuba and other bishops who came to identify with the diocese and witness the historical event, just as he noted that the success of the dedicated projects including the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Anglican Communion, Oke-Igbago, Iseyin was an indication that the diocese is significant to the church authority and that the development rejuvenated his spirit and that of the entire diocese.

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