Handover to Bishop-elect Anglican Diocese of The Trinity put on hold

by Church Times

The intrigues in the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria; Anglican Communion may be taking a dramatic dimension as there are indications that the bishop-elect of the Diocese of The Trinity of the Church of Nigeria North America Mission, The Rt. Rev Olukayode Adebogun may still have to wait for the primate’s approval before he takes over the office.

This is coming despite the initial handover to him by the supervisory bishop of the diocese, The Rt Rev Felix Orji.

Orji has been the supervisory bishop of the diocese for six months now.  In a letter dated September 24, he however told both clergy and laity of  Anglican Diocese of The Trinity ( ADOTT) that his role as the supervisory bishop had ended.Anglican diocese

But on September 29, he wrote another letter saying he would continue playing the role pending the time the election of Adebogun is approved by the Primate.

The first letter reads, “I am pleased to inform you that yesterday, September 23, 2021, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) elected Suffragan Bishop Olukayode Adebogun the Diocesan Bishop of ADOTT. Effective as of today he is your Diocesan Bishop(ADOTT).

“Please join me in congratulating him and give him your support. May the Lord grant Bishop Adebogun all he needs to serve the diocese well to the glory of God. I am committed to working with him and I encourage you to join me in doing so.

“Second, I’m pleased to announce that both the House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria have canonically approved the geographical areas for ADOTT and ADOTW. Parishes in either diocese that find themselves in the geographical section of another diocese are free to transition immediately to their new diocese without recrimination from any Bishop. Those who are uncomfortable transitioning have a period of up to three years to complete that transition. This is a needed pastoral provision.

“Finally, it has been a pleasure serving you all as the Supervisory Bishop of ADOTT which ends herewith. We will continue to work together as members of the Church of Nigeria North American Mission(CONNAM).”

This letter perhaps prompted Bishop Adebogun to begin to act in the capacity of Bishop of the new diocese.  He had fired two letters since the election, one addressed to all priests and laity in the diocese and the other by one Canon Felix Oyinlola on his behalf.

The second letter advised “all clergy and churches in the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity to not make any move or action any restructuring/relocation request until you receive further direct procedural clarifications from the New Diocesan – The Rt. Rev. Olukayode Adebogun”

Bishop Orji’s second letter on September 29 however came with another tone. He said he did not follow due process by the initial handover to Adebogun.

In the new note, he said he would remain the supervisory bishop of the diocese pending when Adebogun’s election is confirmed by the Primate and probably enthroned.

The letter reads, “I write to advise you that Bishop Olukayode Adebogun was duly elected as ADOTT diocesan. *But* until his election is confirmed by the Primate and probably enthroned I will continue to function as the Supervisory Bishop of ADOTT.

“Therefore be advised that all important decisions must be brought to my desk for approval until further notice.

“It’s obvious that, in good faith, I handed over too quickly after the election contrary to proper procedure. I will henceforth remain on all ADOTT platforms until everything is clear.

“Finally, in my role as Coordinating Bishop of CONNAM (Church of Nigeria, North America) I will give all CONNAM Dioceses the necessary instructions to follow with respect to the implementation of the restructuring resolution already passed by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria. Please follow my instructions ONLY on this matter.”

The letter was said to have poured cold water on the enthusiasm of Adebogun. Some of the priests and bishops who spoke to Church Times could not come to terms with the development.

They compared the election of Adebogun with that of The Right Rev Idri Ado Zubairu who was translated from the Missionary Diocese of Bari in Kano State to the Diocese of Sokoto the same day he was elected. He is to replace the late Bishop Omole.

In the case of Zubairu, he has taken over but Adebogun still has to wait. A bishop explains that there is a statutory provision for waiting of 21 days for a new Bishop. before his collation “That is the case of a person who has not been bishop before who is newly preferred Bishop. He has to wait for 21 days. But someone who has been bishop before his election, there is no statutory provision for waiting; though the Bishop will still have to be enthroned. What is happening now is not clear to us.”

Another priest said, “What is worrisome is the tone of the second letter of Bishop Orji. What does he mean by, until his election is confirmed by the Primate and probably enthroned, that is pregnant. In the first place the primate was the one who elected the people who supervised the election process.

“It is given that the primate is in the picture of how he was elected. So, what other approval and confirmation are they waiting for. But then, we have to keep watching how the drama unfolds. What I expected to read from Bishop Orji is the announcement of the time of Bishop Adebogun’s enthronement”

But some other priests who volunteered information anonymously still believe the action of the church is done in good faith. “I think the church has a reason for that. The current primate is a man of principle and somebody who will always want to follow due process.

“Perhaps he wanted to be sure of the process of Adebogun’s election. At the end of the day, justice will be done. I believe Adebogun would still be enthroned. By the way, the man has been been in that diocese, he understands the workings of the diocese. I don’t see any other person fitting into that role for now apart from him.”

As it is, nobody is clear about the faith of Adebogun. He declined to comment when our correspondent reached out to him to get his views on the development. He informed however that the Church is on course. But many of his colleagues who spoke with our correspondent are not comfortable with the development.

Adebogun is a suffragan bishop (bishop who assists the bishop of a diocese)  He is a dual citizen of Nigeria and Canada. He is an indigene of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. He was born and christened at Christ Anglican Church, Borogun, Ijebu Ode.

He’s married with five lovely children. While his wife works in the Canadian health sector, Bishop Adebogun works in the immigration industry and also the mortgage. In addition to being connected with the church, he’s a licensed Immigration Law Specialist and also a licensed Mortgage Broker. 

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