He is from the Diocese of Agwuata, Anambra State. But for Venerable Emmanuel Umeh, the Anglican Diocese of Lagos West has become a home of a sort.
He has been in Lagos since 1985. He was a member of St.Peters Alaba International operating as an evangelist. It was from there he attended the Lagos Anglican Bible College. He served as a lay reader thereafter and later attended Ezekiel College of Theology.
After his seminary training, he came back to Lagos and was ordained a deacon by the late Bishop Awelewa Adebiyi; who also ordained him a priest.
From then, Umeh has traversed the length and breadth of the Diocese of Lagos West serving in many churches including St. Peter’s Church, Alaba, All Saints Anglican Church, St Michael Church Egbeda, and then St. Barth’s Satelite Town. Presently he is serving at St. Paul Anglican Church, Oke-Afa, Isolo.
Umeh has exciting tales to tell about the diocese. He says, “DLW has been a great diocese. God has been so grateful to this diocese. I want to appreciate God for the way it started when it was carved out of Lagos. It grew and became a powerful diocese. When Baba Adebiyi was here, he did great and it was like, who will fit into his shoes?
“But Bishop Odedeji has really performed beyond expectations. Even a blind person can see the great work God is using him to do in the diocese. Baba Adebiyi did so well. He established a lot of churches. Under Bishop Odedeji the diocese is growing bigger. It is growing physically, structurally, and spiritually.
According to him the impact in the last 10 years spread across the diocese. “You need to visit the City of God at Ipaja to see the great work being done there. We have more secondary schools now being nurtured by the diocese. The diocese is a blessing to the church of Nigeria.”
Umeh said “What the diocese is celebrating is 10 years of monumental achievement, spiritual advancement, great leadership, all-round growth. We have a lot to talk about. We are celebrating 10 years of peace and the great advancement of this diocese.
A lot of churches are coming on board. A lot of priests have been elevated by the bishop. So many priests are in schools waiting to join us in the diocese. We are celebrating great leadership. Those of us in the diocese should give great thanks to God for giving us a leader like Bishop Odedeji.”
Read also: My Experience as bishop in the Last 10 Years-Bishop Odedeji: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/my-10-year-experience-as-bishop-in-the-anglican-communion-rt-rev-james-odedeji/
He observed that Bishop Odedeji is highly detribilised. “Baba Odedeji takes care of all his priests irrespective of your tribe provided you are a child of God and willing to do the work. Any priest who is committed to the work and ready to advance the kingdom of God on earth will have no problem with Bishop Odedeji. Your tribe does not matter to him. Sometimes I look at him I begin to wonder the kind of man he is. He takes me as one of his blood brothers. He is a Bishop that cares for his priests.”
He recalled that a few years ago, one of the buses of the church caught fire with some children inside. Many of the children were admitted to the hospital. Bishop Odedeji took time off to visit those in the hospital and also paid the hospital bill.
“He visits every priest that is ill and ensures that the diocese pays the hospital bill. He will always tell us he believes people should be given a befitting life, not a befitting burial. I call him a leader that cares.”
Odedeji’s humility according to Umeh is worth emulating. “I can say it anywhere. He is very accessible to all including children. He is always willing to listen. He will give you attention. He will put a call across to you, and ask about your family and children. If you sound somehow, he will follow you up. Every time we meet, he will ask us to take care of our health.” Umeh said.
He noted that the generous disposition of Bishop Odedeji has rubbed off on the diocese. “Bishop Odedeji is a gift. I am not surprised at the way the diocese is growing. He is ever willing to share the little resources he has”
On what he has personally experienced in the diocese, Umeh said, “I want to thank God for what he has done for me in this diocese. I was like David. God picked from the bush. I was nobody. But God picked me through the help of Bishop Awelewa Adebiyi.
He licensed me as a lay reader. Sent me to seminary and ensured that I graduated and was ordained. Bishop Odedeji took over from where Baba Adebiyi stopped. He preferred me a canon and later made me a venerable archdeacon. God has used the late Bishop Adebiyi and Bishop Odedeji to be a great blessing to me. I can’t forget their love for me.”
Umeh believes Bishop Odedeji should continue the good work he is doing in the diocese and not relent. “He should always see us as one as he has always done. He has always been there for the priests and churches. He will visit and give money to churches to buy land. He should continue the good work of ensuring priests are well taken care of. He should continue in that line.”