By Zakariya Musa
The largest church denomination in northeastern Nigeria convened its annual conference at its Headquarters in Kwarhi, the first to be held there since the two years since the Boko Haram insurgency overran the area.
The Majalisa, the annual conference of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was started 70 years ago. This year’s conference was titled “Peace with God.” As a peace church heavily affected by the insurgent activities, it is obliged to strengthen the church’s resilience to peace, reconciliation, and encouragement while many of its members return home from displacement.
EYN president Joel S. Billi for the first time since his election addressed the conference’s participants, about 1,500 from within and outside Nigeria.
The highest decision-making body of the 94-year-old church, the Majalisa presents reports and presents awards to the deserving members and pastors. Representatives of the World Council of Churches, the Church of the Brethren in the USA, Mission 21 from Switzerland, and the TEKAN president took part in the historic events. Others included the bishop of the United Methodist Church of Nigeria, the chairman of the Hong Local Government Area, and the Brethren Evangelism Support Trust (BEST).
The three-day conference started with a worship service on April 5, where Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, preached. Guest preacher for the occasion was Philip A. Ngadda, who delivered his sermon based on Romans 5:1-5.
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The denomination’s Agricultural Department has conducted workshops for representatives from farming communities to receive teaching on the importance and how to rear sheep and goats, and to train farmers in soybean production. The expectation is for participants to maximize farm management and production in their respective communities and improve income and livelihood. The effort is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative, and pushes to improve the Muslim and Christian farmers. The soybean production workshop was attended by 18 people, with about 50 percent women in attendance.
The EYN Women’s Fellowship (ZME) recently held its first Majalisa or annual meeting since the Boko Haram insurgency began. Titled “Let us forgive one another” (Luke 11:4), the gathering attracted good participation. Over 1,000 women from across the denomination within and outside Nigeria converged on the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi. The guest preacher was Salamatu Billi, wife of EYN president Joel S. Billi, and the national adviser of the Women’s Fellowship. ZME director Awa Moses chaired the meeting and urged women to forgive and remain one reflecting on the text from John 17:21-22.
The Minister’s Council inducted to-be-ordained pastors in a three-day seminar organized at the EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi, for candidates who were confirmed for ordination into probation and into full ministry. The candidates who were invited from across the church benefited from presentations on numerous related topics, such as “Pastor as an Administrator,” “The Work of a Pastor,” “Pastor’s Home,” and other practical aspects of ministry. EYN general secretary Daniel Y.C. Mbaya, one of the resource people for the seminar, encouraged the 196 candidates with their wives to be dynamic and effectively absorb the changing world in their pastoral duties. EYN president Joel S. Billi encouraged churches to strategize evangelism work and to be united in preaching the gospel. “Even if it means mounting Public Address Systems at a market square, let’s preach Jesus,” he said.
After the Minister’s Council the Men’s Fellowship of EYN also converged on Kwarhi for an annual three-day conference themed, “The Man God Uses.”
-- Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).