A release from EYN by Zakariya Musa
Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has successfully conducted her annual General Church Council or Majalisa on May 16-19 at its Headquarters located at Kwarhi, Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa State. In attendance were over 1,750, all pastors (serving and retired), delegates from Local Church Councils, representatives of programs and institutions, and observers.
As the highest decision-making body of the church, reports were received from various heads of departments, which started with EYN president Joel S. Billi’s speech in which he talked about the church and present state of the country Nigeria.
The EYN president’s speech
“Majalisa is a special time of dwelling in God’s presence to evaluate our steps and actions as a church, we must do so without parochial sentiments of associations, region, tribe, and ethnicity so that we can continue to move the church to greater heights.”
He thanked EYN partners the Church of the Brethren and Mission 21 for their support and encouragement. “COB has indeed exhibited the character of Barnabas (son of encouragement) to EYN in our crisis period as well as in our days of peace and prosperity by mobilizing resources for EYN and intervening in different developmental projects of the church.
Please pray… For EYN and all leaders, staff, pastors, ministers, and members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
“We are grateful to the leadership of COB for this support and I am thankful to all members of COB that sacrificed their comfort and resources to attend the just concluded centennial event of the church. I am profoundly grateful to brother David Steele, COB general secretary, and the entire staff at Elgin. May God continue to reward your love and sacrifice for EYN in Jesus’ name, Amen!
“I want to thank Mission 21 and the country director Dr. Yakubu Joseph for the support we have enjoyed in our years of partnership with Mission 21. We are grateful for the support and interventions in several projects in EYN that has brought growth and development to our ministry. I am also grateful to the staff and members of Mission 21 that found time to attend our centenary event. God will continue to bless and reward you. Hearty thanks to the entire mission 21 headquarter staff for all the steadfast support to EYN. We continue to look forward to more of such partnership in the future. You have been loyal yoke fellows.”
On the state of Nigeria, Billi stated that although some normalcy has been restored in some areas, Nigeria today is still witnessing security challenges that require urgent attention. Armed banditry, kidnap for ransom, and insurgency are still very prevalent in different parts of the country. He called on the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to step up his game towards fulfilling his constitutional responsibility of securing the lives and properties of all citizens.
Billi, also called on the president-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, as he builds his team, saying he should be the president for all Nigerians, leaving no one behind and nothing left untouched.
Alarmed about the financial needs of the church, he acknowledged the fact that EYN members are faced by economic and social challenges. He charged the church to explore new ways of raising finances as the reliance on offerings and tithes alone is not working as expected. “It may surprise you to know that of the N1,047,530,089 [Naira] realized by the church in the year under review as 30 percent remittance to the headquarters, 85 percent went into salaries and wages.”
On the EYN leadership election, he said, “I call on pastors and delegates to continue to pray for worthy successors come 2024.”
The EYN president used the medium to call on all and sundry to pray for peace in Sudan and other places. “The conflict in Sudan should be a thing of concern to all of us because proliferation of arms and ammunition in the African continent will affect Nigeria’s peace and stability. I therefore call on all pastors and delegates to continue to pray for God to restore peace in Sudan and other war-torn areas.”
The president also gave highlights of achievements and concerns of the present EYN administration:
— Brethren College of Health Technology Garkida
— organized all DCCs [church districts] and LCCs [congregations] approved by the 75th Majalisa
— ordained all pastors as approved by the ministers’ council
— relocated the EYN sachet and bottled water factory to its permanent site
— completed the EYN Conference Centre
— installed solar panels at the EYN Headquarters office complex and at the Kulp Theological Seminary (KTS) library and classroom; installed solar-powered lights in the headquarters compound and on the Headquarters-to-KTS street
— purchased electronic boards for KTS classrooms, which will be installed soon
— established a block industry at the headquarters
— established the EYN Bakery, which is in operation
— completed the headquarters office extension and subgroup complex
— constructed a one-story EYN Headquarters Guesthouse in conjunction with the ZME [women’s fellowship], which has reached roofing stage
— constructed three standard staff quarters at KTS, which is at the lintel level
i. Drop of 30 percent remittance from LCCs and DCCs
ii. Inability to implement staff promotions as and when due
iii. Inability to employ staff for locations with need because of poor finances
iv. Insurgency in some of our areas
v. A poor harvest in the year 2022
vi. Unfaithfulness among staff is on the increase
Following the report of the vice president, Anthony A. Ndamsai, church groups were encouraged to sustain and to step up their responsibilities in supporting church growth.
The report of the general secretary, Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, among other things called for unified effort towards sustaining central payment for the betterment of the church and its staff. “While we remain grateful to God, to most of our members, and the faithful pastors for sustaining the central payment of staff which took effect January 2019, we have to continuously challenge ourselves to do all within our power to ensure that this noble project does not in any way come to a halt. Let us consciously ask ourselves, for the past six years, if there has been not a year that passed without us granting autonomy to less than 20 LCCs who at the time of their application would claim to meeting the minimum requirement, why is our income not increasing but in some cases decreasing? We strongly call on all pastors to treat the central payment with the seriousness it deserves as its introduction has brought lots of relief to all of us.”
Mbaya also prayed for the revival of the workcamp tradition that existed between EYN and its partners. “EYN, the Church of the Brethren, and Mission 21 have over the years jointly promoted and brought about mutual learning and spiritual growth.”
The Finance Department of the church was commended for working to international standards. This was contained in the External Audit Report presented to the General Church Council. “The financial statements give and present a true and fair view of the state of affairs of EYN-Church of the Brethren as at 31st December, 2022, and proper books of accounts have been reasonably kept.”
The report of the EYN director of Finance, Ayuba U. Balami, had an income of N1,814,629,083.24, expenditure of N1,779,009,044.97, and 2023 budget projected at N1,952,240,664.
The report of the internal audit presented by Wada Zambua John suggested that salaries are paid with tears. Issues reported among others included 90 LCCs that could not meet a requirement of two million Naira for a consecutive period of two years and be considered for merger as approved by the 75th General Church Council. The affected churches also include 21 LCCs located in Chibok, Madagali, Kwajaffa, and Askira Local Government Areas still considered danger zones. On the other hand, some DCCs were praised for making surplus contributions towards centenary celebrations and paying their staff salaries.
Directorates who presented their annual report included; Education by Daniel I. Yumuna, Evangelism and Church Growth by Musa Daniel Mbaya, Ministers’ Council by Lalai Bukar, Women’s Ministry by Mrs. Hassana Habu, Disaster Relief Management by Yuguda Z. Mdurvwa, Integrated Community Based Development Programme (ICBDP) by Yakubu Peter, Brethren Microfinance Bank by Samuel Yohanna Tizhe, Pension Board by Ayuba U. Balami, the former Secretary.
The 76th General Church Council expressed concern about the EYN Health Department and some educational institutions’ inability to cater for their staff salaries.
An encouraging goodwill message from the Church of the Brethren USA, written by the executive director of Global Mission, Eric Miller, to the EYN 76th Majalisa was read by the EYN president: “Greetings from the Church of the Brethren in the United States. We are awed by the faithfulness of God witnessed in the EYN. The Church in Nigeria has thrived against the attacks of Satan and has grown to be the largest Church of the Brethren in the world. Your adherence to peace in the face of brutal attacks humbles and inspires us. We have taught you, and know we pray you will teach us how to walk in peace and faith even in the face of violence. May the Lord bless you and save you. May you continue to be light and salt to Nigeria and to the world.”
During the three-day event, titled “Great Is God’s Faithfulness” (Dueteronomy 7:9), a “bona fide member of EYN” Philip A. Nggada, who was the guest preacher, admonished the audience to recognize God’s faithfulness to his church and to have a unified mind towards making progress in this second century journey of the church.
EYN sons who were recently elected into various political positions were invited by the EYN president for special prayers and guidance towards Christlike representation, peaceful co-existence, unity, and harmony of the country. They were presented with Holy Bibles to that effect.
Other keynotes of the 2023 Majalisa included the reappointment of the Directorate of Audit and Compliance, and the confirmation of two directors–director of Education Daniel Y. Yumuna and director of Finance Ayuba Usman Balami. Three members of the Board of Trustees were elected: former EYN president Filibus K. Gwama, Andrawus N. Gadzama, and Thomas Tizhe.
— Zakariya Musa is head of EYN Media.
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