The following communique from the 68th General Church Council (Majalisa) of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was issued by the Majalisa meeting from May 5-8 at the new Annex Headquarters of EYN in central Nigeria. It was provided for publication in Newsline by Daniel Yusufu C. Mbaya:
The General Church Council [of EYN] is the highest decision making body of the church which meets annually to discuss masters affecting the church. The membership of the council includes among others but not limited to, the National Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, all ordained ministers, legal advisers, Local Church Council delegates, district officers, heads of departments and institutions.
The theme of the conference was “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). The speech of the president titled “The road to a better future” gave an overview of the troubled years the church is passing through due to the Boko Haram tsunami of death and misery that mostly affected the EYN churches in the north east.
He said the church lost 278 Local Church Councils out of the total 457, and 1,390 Local Church Branches out of 2,280. In all 1,674 worship centers were completely destroyed.
The president deeply appreciated the immense support from the congregation, the management, the founding fathers of the Church of the Brethren Mission in America, Mission 21, and Mennonite Central Committee for standing firmly with total commitment to EYN at such a difficult time.
The dastardly acts of the Boko Haram led to the displacement of over seven hundred thousand (700,000) members of the church and forced the headquarters to relocate temporarily to Plateau State.
The church was further frustrated by the states and federal government’s inability to respond to the plight of the displaced. Due to the foregoing, situational strategies and structures have been developed by the leadership.
In tandem with the Church of the Brethren (America) and Mission 21, the EYN Church Management has taken her destiny in its hands to forge ahead to reposition, rebuild, and transform the church for the future while providing leadership on the path of its vision, infusing confidence engendered by unshaken belief and faith in the work encouraging the congregation.
Transformational institutions such as the establishment of a micro finance bank, Brethren legacy foundation, formation of faith-based cooperative societies, and Disaster Management Team are in progress and have been put in place.
The conference resolved to construct rescue centers which could be called Brethren villages in Nasarawa State and in Taraba State for the purpose of re-settling the displaced persons, which contain schools and hospitals and can be used for the above purposes when people are back to their homelands.
The peace heritage of the church is still the only way consistent with the gospel of which we uphold.
The proposed take off of the Brethren University to be located at Kwarhi, Mararaban Mubi in Adamawa State to be pursued vigorously. Steering Committee to be appointed by the NEC.
Due to the traumatic experiences of the church and to show the love and concern of Jesus over his church to victims of insurgency, in a spirit of solidarity to the displaced, the General Elections of the church are put on hold until 2016.
That the out-going [Nigerian] government is to sustain the momentum of the counter-insurgency and ensure the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls as well as other abducted citizens. The victim support fund should be released with immediate effect for the resettlement of the returning internally displaced persons.
The in-coming government should tackle corruption head on and govern all the citizens devoid of religious and tribal bias.
All tiers of government should create job opportunities to our teeming youth to reduce youth restiveness.
The media to always serve as the voice of the voiceless by being unbiased in their reportage of happenings, and to encourage investigative journalism.
The peace of the Lord be upon all people. Jesus is Lord.
— For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response undertaken cooperatively by the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .