By Zakariya Musa
The 73rd Annual General Church Council Conference (Majalisa) of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was held July 14-16 at the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi, Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa State. The highest decision-making body of the church denomination was initially scheduled for March 31 to April 3, but was postponed due to the global pandemic.
The annual conference re-elected the incumbent president Joel S. Billi and vice president Anthony A. Ndamsai, reappointed as general secretary Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, reappointed the Disaster Relief Ministry director Yuguda Z. Mdurvwa, and appointed as administrative secretary Nuhu Mutah Abba, who was newly appointed for a four-year tenure. Joshua Wakai also was confirmed to be on the EYN Board of Trustees.
This year’s unique synod had an abridged timetable for a three-day gathering instead of the usual five days. In view of this, the Majalisa was able to take few reports from the EYN General Secretary, Vice President, Finance, Auditors, Central Planning Committee, and Brethren Micro Finance Bank.
Caleb Silvanus Dakwak, pastor of EYN Utaku congregation in Abuja, preached under the theme “Fear the Lord and Serve Him with All Faithfulness,” taken from Joshua 24:14, on behalf of Dondou Iorlamen of Capro Ministries International in Jos, Plateau State.
President Joel S. Billi in his annual address began by appreciating God, that despite extreme and rigorous persecution the church is growing rapidly both spiritually and physically. He also appreciated the support of mission partners--the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Central Committee, and Mission 21--for their continued support in a devastating time.
Billi thanked and recognized the hardship of members and pastors working in volatile areas. “We cannot thank members and pastors who are living in dangerous areas enough. These are people who are almost literally seeing death day after day. Facing attacks frequently at negligible period. Many of these churches and pastors have experienced kidnapping and abduction of members,” he said.
“Persecution of Christians in Nigeria has come in different forms now, and is becoming too glaring to any onlooker and the world at large,” he continued. “It is clear in the public eye that Christians are no longer needed in northern Nigeria. That is the message of Boko Haram. The tactical and deliberate war waged against Christians by Boko Haram for the extinction of the church has lasted for 10 years now. The EYN Church is always at the receiving end.
“Other Christians and Muslims are suffering in this barbaric, uncivilized, crude, and wild behavior, but EYN suffers most. The severity of the persecution is on us. I am convinced and certain that if Boko Haram succeeded against Christians, they are going to kill all Muslims who don’t share the same ideology with them. Why can’t we borrow a leaf from the war in Syria and the entire Middle East? Muslims verses Muslims, Arabs versus Arabs.”
He also showed concern about staff salaries, which he described as meager, surrounded by enormous forces against them. He shared that “the achievement made so far, over Central Payment [dues paid by congregations to the denomination], is the center of unity of all pastors and staff of EYN. It is like eating from the same plate and table. Any leader or leaders who will ever come to denounce Central Payment shall be called an ‘enemy of sharing.’ We should discourage with all our strength individualistic possessors. What is wrong if everybody receives his salary on the 25th of every month? What is wrong if all workers contribute toward the retirement of any of us? What is wrong if the big and strong churches supplement the efforts of small rural churches? I want to guess there are people here who are either on food or drug supplements. So why don’t we embrace the life style of the early church in Acts of the Apostles to be our watchword?”
EYN has been “living together for 100 years without any major crack or rancor amidst zones or tribes,” he said. “Let us continue to be one family and one body, so that the young ones will grow to see the unity of Christ in us.”
The 73rd Majalisa has awarded the following people and District Church Councils (DCCs) for their various contributions to the church and humanity:
1. Pastor Solomon Folorunsho.
2. Rev. (Dr.) Titus D. Pona
3. Mrs. Charity M. Mshelia.
4. Mr. Charles Shapu
5. Mr. Daniel Usman Gwari
6. Dr. Watirahyel Isuwa Aji.
Seven DCCs were awarded for faithfulness in handling church funds, sponsored by the Audit Directorate: DCC Yobe, DCC Maiduguri, DCC Gashala, DCC Gombi, DCC Mubi, DCC Viniklang and Golantabal, respectively.
COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment and donations were received from some individuals and organizations as their contribution to the success of the conference, which hosted about 1,500 participants.
Resolutions of the conference included but were not restricted to the following:
-- To proffer special allowance to pastors working in difficult areas.
-- Three months of a second offering in support of Central Payment.
-- Some Local Church Councils (LCCs) declared by the Majalisa for merger.
-- One DCC Mishara created from DCC Uba, and 23 local church branches approved for autonomy.
-- To form a committee that will come up with an election policy.
-- Zakariya Musa is head of EYN Media for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).