• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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‘Christians should put more funds into evangelism to grow the faith’

Dr. Oyeyemi Adegbite is the chairman, Cathedral Touch Bearers of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina – the foremost male society of the Cathedral Church activities anchored on evangelism. In this interview with Seyi John Salau, Adegbite speaks on the activities of the society since inception as well as the line-up of events for its 75th anniversary celebration. Excerpt:

What can you tell us about the Touch Bearers Society of the Cathedral Church Marina?

On 28 October 1942, the standing committee of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, with Rev. S. C. Philips as Vicar, appealed to the members of the Cathedral to form themselves into societies following the demise of the two early clubs, namely, Cathedral Young Men Association and Recreation Club. The male leaders in the Cathedral regrouped, and thereafter, an inaugural meeting was held on the 4th of November, 1942 at the Christ Church Cathedral School, Broad Street, Lagos where it was formally resolved that a society to be named Cathedral Touch Bearers be formed. The aim of the newly formed society was succinctly put on that occasion by Mr. F. G. Martins: ‘To form an association in connection with the church with a view to arousing interest and obtaining increased moral and financial support for the church.’ The society was formally launched in the Cathedral at Martins on Sunday, 6th December, 1942. In a festive mood, members and wives sat in the front pews reserved for them. The service was conducted by Ven. (Archdeacon) S. C. Philips who also preached the sermon and administered the Holy Communion. He was assisted by the Rev. H. N. Hunter, the chaplain. The first constitution and rules were adopted by a sub-committee headed by N. O. A. Morgan and later approved at a general meeting of the society. Membership was thrown open to confirmed members of the Cathedral aged 30 years and above. Admission fee was €1.1 (one guinea) with yearly subscription of €4.4 (four guinea) and €2.2 (two guinea) for the Christmas party.

What is the size of the Cathedral Touch Bearers as of today?

From records, total number of members on the membership register has risen to 209 in 2017. Between 1942 and 1972, two or three new members were inducted annually and, in some years, no new members were inducted. By 1973, many members of the Cathedral were attracted by the calibre of membership and the good works the society was doing in the Cathedral and the urge to join the society grew. The number of applicants rose and on a yearly basis induction of new members increased to between 5 and 10, and by 1994, members on membership register was 126. At that time, the impact of the increased membership was felt by members hosting the monthly general meetings. Members attending the monthly meetings had increased from about 20 to about 40 with its attendant increase in cost of hosting. Secondly, most living rooms in members’ homes could no longer conveniently accommodate members attending meetings, thus requiring the provision of additional space outside the living room. The need therefore arose to curtail the number of admission in any one year because of this constraint. Thereafter, a bye law was enacted in 2003/2004 when Prof. Ajibayo Akinkugbe was chairman: that admission of new members should not be more than 5 in any year and, more importantly, that the total number of living members in the register should not be more than 100.

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1942 till date makes 75 years, which is a landmark. Is the society celebrating its 75thanniversary?

The celebration started on Saturday, 21 October with an anniversary lecture/breakfast meeting that highlights the role of Christians in national development by Professor Olufemi Otubanjo. The book titled ‘Let Your Light Shine’ is scheduled for launch on 23 November by the society as part of the activities to mark its 75thanniversary. The celebration will be rounded off on 3rd December with a thanksgiving service at the Cathedral Church of Christ Marina with a grand reception and awards ceremony.

However, in pursuance of its vision and mission, the society will be using the occasion to raise funds for the completion of its evangelical project at the Igboologun Immanuel Anglican Church on Snake Island, across the Lagos Lagoon. The first phase of the project involving the rehabilitation, reconstruction and refurbishment of the church had been completed and handed over by the society in 2015. The funds to be raised during the 75thanniversary celebration will be used in completing the second phase of the Immanuel Church Development Project involving the building of a vicarage, building of a church/Sunday school, and perimeter fencing and external works. The total cost of completing this second phase of the project is estimated at N70 million. Eminent personalities, parishioners and well wishers have been invited to participate and donate generously towards the completion of the project.

Why did you choose Immanuel Anglican Church Igboologun?

The Trust Fund Board of Trustees of the Cathedral Touch Bearers, at its meeting of June 16, 2010, emphasized the urgent need to identify a project that could be undertaken by the society in fulfilling part of its objectives of evangelism. On advice by the then Provost of the Cathedral Church of Christ and on the recommendation of the Trust Fund Board, the Cathedral Touch Bearers Society accepted to take on the renovation and rehabilitation of Immanuel Anglican Church, Igoologun, as a project. The church, situated on Igboologun village on the Snake Island across the Lagos Lagoon, was initially planted by the Cathedral Church of Christ with the involvement of the Cathedral Missionary Society. The building was dedicated for worship as a church on the 24th of November, 1999 by the late Primate and Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, The Most Rev. Abiodun Adetiloye. Thereafter, the church was virtually abandoned and without any physical maintenance of the building, the structures deteriorated and the building became dilapidated and unsuitable as a worshipping place. Close proximity to the lagoon also exposed the building to erosion hazards with roof members and all metal structures corroded. Immanuel Anglican Church Igboologun is under the jurisdiction of Marine Beach Archdeaconry in the Lagos Diocese.

What was the condition of the church when the challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation was accepted by the society?

The deplorable state of Immanuel Anglican Church was exposed on technical inspection conducted by the ad-hoc committee of the Touch Bearers Trust Fund Board. It was noted that the church building located in an area with very close proximity to the lagoon, with waves hitting the shores at regular intervals, could collapse. High tide from the lagoon has eroded the foundation of the church; also very humid environmental condition in the area together with salty atmospheric moisture had quickened the deterioration of all steel and wooden materials used for the building. Wooden purling and trusses used as supporting structure for the roof had completely decayed and it was obvious that they could collapse if immediate action was not taken. The foundation of the church building was observed to be under threat whenever there was high tide from the lagoon. Water usually gushed under the damp protection concrete (DPC) slab, eroding all the earth fillings around the foundation. All the windows and doors in the church have deteriorated to a stage of disrepair. The church is not protected in any way from unauthorized invasion especially by burglars and miscreants. An unhygienic and inappropriate shed was used as the children’s church, which exposed the children to various weather hazards. An old shed where the church initially started from has been converted to a temporary vicarage. Heavy termite infestation and regular ingress of crabs was reported. There is an obvious need to provide perimeter fence to secure the land that belongs to the church to prevent encroachment.

What is the state of the reconstruction and rehabilitation work currently?

The first phase of the project involving the rehabilitation of the church building as well as the purchase of pews and associated church furniture and fittings has been successfully completed by the Cathedral Touch Bearers and handed over for use in 2015. However, the society now intends to embark on the second phase of the project in order to complete all outstanding works at the Igboologun Immanuel Anglican Church. The total cost of completing the three outstanding works in the second phase of the project is estimated at N70 million. The Cathedral Touch Bearers Society is therefore using its 75thanniversary to launch an appeal for funds from cheerful givers to donate generously towards the completion of the second and final phase of the Igboologun church development project. May the good Lord bless you abundantly and replenish your purse as you donate towards the completion of the project thereby spreading evangelism to the hinterlands and remote villages in the Diocese of Lagos.