The resignation of Pastor Tola Odutola, one of the most prominent pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the United States has created a fresh challenge for the church.
Though he is not the first top pastor that would resign from the Church, his resignation seems to be one too many.
In 2013, Pastor Bayo Akijiyan an Architect resigned from the church alleging an unfair deal. He went ahead to set up his own ministry in Ipaja, Lagos. Pastor Sola Fola-Alade also resigned from the RCCG Trinity House Church in the UK which he led for over 10 years to set up his own ministry called Liberty House a few years ago. Pastor Victor Wellington also pulled out in 2018.
Wellington was the National Coordinator of the RCCG in France with about 25 churches under him before he pulled out of the church early in the year 2018 citing systemic rot in the church. These are just recent cases of top pastors of the church that resigned.
Before these recent resignations, there had been the case of Pastor Tunde Bakare, Pastor Tony Rapu and Pastor Itua Ighodalo and a host of other unknown names.
Sources close to Church Times told our correspondent that Odutola’s resignation may well be an open door for several other foreign pastors of the church to break away if the church fails to do the needful.
Odutola had made his resignation public in a viral video alleging that he did not gain anything from the church in his 30 years of service to the church.
With his resignation, the church where he pastors, Jesus House Baltimore in the US will no longer be answerable to the RCCG. Some other parishes that he helped to establish may follow in his steps if they so desire.
Members of the Jesus House were excited to hear him announce his resignation which had been tendered since April. But he was just making the announcement because the church was just gathering for the first time since the pandemic last Sunday.
In the US, churches are independent legal entities and are regarded as charities. Their books are open to government scrutiny annually.
In the viral video, Odutola said his church would now run independently.
Sources told our correspondent that Odutola who is an alumnus of Loyola College, Ibadan has been very useful in setting up parishes of the RCCG in the US. “He was very rich before he left Nigeria for the US. He spent his money for the church and perhaps nobody cared about how he fared. He may be reacting to a perceived nonchalant attitude from the church’s management” the source said.
Odutola had said in the video, “I served for 30 years without anything from the RCCG, but I know that God is the one who rewards. I know there will be many people who are disappointed by my decision but I apologise. I know I will be demonized in the social media.
“In April of this year, I resigned. This is, in fact, our first Sunday under another organization. I want you to know that my resignation is not a decision I take lightly. I served for 30 years that cannot be taken back. I want to focus on the job the Lord has given me. I have made up my mind I will not throw stones. We are going to move on with life. My destiny is not in anybody’s hands.”
A top member of the Church told our correspondent that the church needs some reorganization noting that if Jim Obaze’s of the then Financial Reporting Council has been allowed with his recommendation in the Nigerian Church some of these issues of pastors not being taken care of would have been addressed.
“What we have now is that the branches are feeding the centre. Many of the churches in the RCCG are weak. The way to go is for the Church to allow the parishes to be largely independent so they can take care of their basic needs instead of being perpetually tied to the headquarters.” The source said.
Odutola comes from the famous Odutola family in Ijebu Ode. He has a story of a challenging growing up years but through hard work and God’s mercy he turned out to be successful. Now about 61, he is a Chartered Accountant. He worked at Peat Marwick, KPMG in Nigeria. He was also at DHL as Treasury Controller and Business Development Manager before being called into full-time ministry.
The website of the Jesus House informs that In addition to being the Senior Pastor at Jesus House Baltimore, he is the Regional Pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCGNA) North America Region 9. (NAR 9).
“He also was the founding chairman of the Redeemer’s Leadership Institute (RLI). RLI is the Leadership arm of the Redeemed Christian Church of God North America (RCCGNA) which provides continuous training for Religious Leaders worldwide. He is the Chairman of Alpha Leadership Conference (ALC), an organization charged with promoting and teaching leadership skills to all people of all nations.
“He consults, mentors and coaches Pastors, speaks regularly at Leadership Conferences, Churches, Corporations, Minister’s Conferences, Seminars and other Leadership Development Opportunities”.
Already on the Jesus House website, there is no emblem of the RCCG. The church is yet to make any official statement on the development.