It’s all about the Kingdom of God – Dr. Kwashi Charges Nigerian Immigrants

by Dr. E. Obiri Addo

African Christian immigrants in general and Nigerian immigrants in particular have been challenged to consider their presence in the United States as an opportunity to inject fresh blood into the building of God’s kingdom. “As Nigerians let us come in as missionaries and go back home as missionaries.” This challenge came from The Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos Province in Nigeria. He was the guest preacher at the dedication of a new mission facility at 844 Sanford Avenue in Irvington, New Jersey for the Igbo Anglican Church of Irvington on July 24, 2016.

The colorful ceremony was attended by various Anglican Communions from Nigerian and North America. Dr. Kwashi encouraged members of the congregation to be “a new generation of Jesus Lovers,” adding, “we have to fire this generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ, else we will become a Noah’s Ark without animals.” He lamented the role of wealth and power in Nigerian Christianity today, and how these values can axe spirituality and even alienate the younger generation. “Big women and men who grew up with privilege do not understand how a younger generation that has known poverty and pain think and feel,” he explained. Dr. Kwashi encouraged the Ibo Anglican Church to see the facility as a “rare gift” and make every day a “celebration of grace.” In his charge to the congregation, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB, Bishop of the Cana West Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), reminded the congregation that the main purpose of their being a congregation is to worship and glorify God. “You are not here to magnify any person or group. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ; it is all about His glory. Don’t join the complainers; support the mission goals of the Church. He cautioned them that having a building is not a goal; “it is a means to glorify God.”

The dedication of the facility is a classic case of how life can spring forth from ashes. Built in the 1930s as a Presbyterian congregation within the Presbytery of Newark, the Sanford Heights Presbyterian Church (USA) closed its doors in June, 2004. After two years of virtually abandoning the facility the Presbytery re-opened it as a mission site for new immigrant start-up congregations. The facility gave life and nurture to Ghana Calvary Methodist Church which is now part of the United Methodist Church (USA) and re-located in Montclair, New Jersey; Lighthouse Church International which still worships there, and the Igbo Anglican Church which negotiated and purchased the facility from the Presbytery of Newark in 2015. The congregation was organized 20 years ago and eventually found a permanent home at this facility in 2007. It now has over two hundred members with two Sunday worship services in Igbo and English languages beginning at 10 a.m. It is currently under the leadership of ArchDeacon Chukwuma Ubandinobi (Rector), assisted by Reverands Edward Onyekachukwu and Rapahel Okafor. Representing the Presbytery of Newark at the celebration was Elder Janis Sledge, a member of the Presbytery’s Board of Trustees.

Posted by on Aug 16 2016. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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