Canada Anglican Church: My experience with same sex marriage- Bishop Adebogun
The Rt. Rev. Olukayode Adebogun 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. In this interview with our correspondent, Adekunle Adewunmi, Adebogun who has just been elected the Bishop of the Diocese of Trinity of the Church of Nigeria in Canada talks about the Church in Canada and the threat of immorality.
Let me congratulate you on your election as the Bishop of the Trinity Diocese of the Church of Nigeria in Canada. What does that make you feel?
Thank you very much and thanks to God Almighty. To me, it’s a call to service. A lot of people like to say congratulations almost all the time but I’ll prefer they pray for us because it’s a call to high responsibility. Congratulations is good but we need more than that; prayers for success, prayers for wisdom, prayers for grace. But, thanks all the same.
What exactly took you to Canada?
I’ve been there almost 20 years. I got to Canada January 9 2000. Actually, my ticket was ready in September, 1999. But a few things delayed me for four months and so, a lot of people thought I left that September. So, I went there as a student. I bagged a Masters of Arts and I also did my Masters in Divinity and of course, I started my doctoral programme. While I was studying the course, I had the opportunity of applying as a permanent resident which was approved and then, I served as a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada for about four to five years until June 2004 when the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution at the general synod.
I still remember the resolution – it says; we affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed same sex relationship. So, when that decision was made and the vote passed at the general synod of June 2004 that was the final straw for me. I did try to see if I could do the work of rescue since there were other people; Blacks and Whites who did not agree to that resolution. I was trying to see if I could still manage them within the Anglican Church of Canada but unfortunately by September of that year, after series of meeting with the Bishop Diocese which was Bishop Duncan Wallace it turned out that the decision was irreversible.
He basically said I should forget about those people, if they want to go, they should go; he then gave me an ultimatum. He wrote me a letter to decide if I wanted to stay with them or not. So I had to make up my mind. On September 9, after due consultation and prayer, I wrote back to say I’m sorry – I will not sell my birthright for a pot of porridge.
I made up my mind not to compromise my faith because of Dollar or Cent. It was a big temptation for me obviously because making that decision means I was going to lose whatever I got as income but, that was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the sake of the gospel. So, I wrote him back. I remember quoting from Acts chapter 4 and said I will rather obey the Lord than obey the voice of men and that was it.
I left, together with my wife and children and we started from the scratch because in Anglican, you can’t take anything with you and that was how we started the first parish of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. So, we became the Pioneer priest of the first Anglican Church. We continued. Thank God for the then Bishop of Lagos West; The Right Revd Awelewa Adebiyi. I spoke to him before writing the letter and he encouraged me to follow my conscience and that if they want to take my license, he would support me, of which he gave me a license to function for that period of time.
So, we started July 2004 with just one church and we thank God today, we have well over fifteen churches. It all started from Regina and then we moved to Toronto, to Cadbury, Hoderwall, Alephax, St. John, Bencuber and other places. Another thing God helped us with is to recruit clergies mostly from Nigeria but not all our Clergies are Nigerians. We do have a Sierra-Leonean Clergy. We thank God for all He has done. I’m part of the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity which is a Diocese of the Church of Nigeria and also a Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America.; The alternative province that was created to look after Anglicans who don’t agree with the decision of the Church in United States and in Canada (ACNA – Anglican Church in North America). Of course, the mission of the Church of Nigeria was CANA – Convocation of Anglican in North America and within CANA, we have three Dioceses and I belong to one of them which is the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity but my new role is specific, more to Canada as the Bishop-elect primarily to look after the Churches in Canada.
Do you have Canadian Priests in your Church?
Well, I’m a Canadian priest, I do have a Canadian passport and there are some of us who are already Canadians. So when I travel, I do as a Canadian Citizen and I’m a Nigerian citizen too. I’m assuming what you’re say is if we have Caucasians who are Clergies. Now, like I said the Diocese covers Canada and United States so, I am part of the Diocese but with this election, I believe my role will be to look after the churches under my region in Canada. Right now, most of our priests are Nigerians and Sierra –Leonean but we are still recruiting. We are reaching out, planting new churches and we believe God that before the end of this year, we would have planted ten new churches and that’s my goal, that’s my vision and that’s what I’m trusting the Lord for.
I believe by the grace of God it would be done. We’ve got close to fifteen now and we are trusting God before the end of 2019, we would recruit close to nine or ten clergies locally or overseas and, there would be 10 new churches by the grace of God.
What is peculiar about the Christian faith in Canada?
It’s unfortunate that the western world appears to have abandoned the faith that was once delivered to them. They have forgotten their first love. Canada is now a missionary center, it’s a mission field. You know people from outside still think Canada is a Christian country. I’ve lived there now for almost two decades. You still see Christian traits but the truth is you have more people in the mall on Sunday than you have in the Churches. You have more people at the gym than you have in the churches. Thousands of churches haves been sold, either converted to mosque or to residential building. I’ve witnessed what they call service of de-consecration.
This place will no longer be a church, they pull it down, convert it to something else. So, we need missionaries who will come to Canada to bring back the gospel, who would be able to preach the word. The second advantage now is that we have more immigrants coming in from different countries; from Middle East to Africa, to European countries. A great mission field because some of them come with their faith, some of them are not Christians. So it’s a great opportunity to reach out to them. Like in our Church, we do have Ugandan, Sudanese. So, we have people from different nationalities, and, we are not limiting it to Nigerians.
We want to reach out to the Caucasians, Indians who used to be the occupants of that country. Sincerely, Canada needs prayer, and it needs revival. In fact, the entire of North America is in a backsliding state that we need Missionaries who will revive that place by His grace. The thing they brought to us, they don’t believe in it anymore. They brought the gospel. They said one husband, one wife but they don’t believe in it. Marriage is a mess in North America right now, percentage of divorce is almost 80 percent; that’s alarming. People change their spouses as if they are changing cloths. Divorce is no longer news. It doesn’t really matter. And that’s unfortunate.
Have you in any way experienced racial discrimination over there?
Oh yeah. That’s one thing you will find out in Canada and United States. Your colour is a problem sometimes. People still believe because you are black, your brain is black, your thinking is black, you cannot hold leadership positions, you cannot excel. But by the grace of God, some of us have been able to put our feet down, that the colour of our skin does not determine our success.
Whether you’re Black or White, we belong to the same group. We have the same vein, blood and water running in us and so, that definitely has been a problem. It’s unfortunate when you have this in the church. But what I say to people that are coming in is to be ready to excel. I worked in the bank for about 13 years and one of the things I did was to study. There were courses that ordinarily, people would not want to do. Those are the ones I went to do so that I can excel and then I can distinguish myself; either for promotion or next level of appointment. So, my advice to people is to resist racism. Any form of racism, discrimination or suppression should be fought.
We need to speak up against it. Unfortunately, if I tell you that there is no discrimination in Canada, it’s not true. There is still discrimination; systemic discrimination, racial profiling, even in the Church, sadly. But, as the gospel continues to progress, and as we continue to excel in our various fields and professions, we hope and pray that there would be renewal and revival.
Okay sir. Here in Nigeria, many churches centre prayers on material things. What is the prayer focus in Canada?
That’s where there is difference. For instance, sometimes you want to pray, oh God, let there be power supply. Well, that’s not really the prayer for us in Canada. But haven said that, right now, revival is key. Materialism is a problem in North America. The acquisition of credit is a nightmare. You can walk into a dealership today with a good credit, get approved and go out with a brand new car. You don’t have to put a Cent down. We know that is not likely to be possible in Nigeria. And that is why the love of many is waxing cold and that’s very serious right now and that’s what we call economic slavery.
A number of our people, vibrant believers; when they get to the shore of that place, the devil destroy their Christianity; they become cold because they are after Dollar or Cent and many of them work so much that they don’t have time for Church.; people that used to be able to preach the gospel, have backslidden there. Many of the people are doing many things. Some will leave their wives here and other things will start happening in the other side and there are wives that leave their husband in Nigeria and things happen. The rate of divorce even among immigrants is going higher.
A lot of our males and females believe there is lot of freedom over here; they don’t want to obey the biblical principles anymore. So, believers are backsliding. I call it economic slavery because they have come for better life. But in exchange; devil is saying I will give you that economic thing you want but I’m going to sniff life out of you as far as your spiritual life is concerned. So, I’m sounding a big alarm; ‘beware of the new economic slavery’ in North America. Go with your faith, stand with your faith in Christ and be committed to it.
I tell people; it’s not every job that you take, not all promotions that you accept because you may be making the Dollars and not have time to pray anymore, no time to study the scriptures, no time to go witness anymore. We have brothers that do read their Bibles while here but they find it difficult to read when they get to Canada. Beware of backsliding; beware of the love of money. Because of resources, you have time for two to three jobs a day and not have time to pray; that is dangerous!
How big is the Anglican Church of Nigeria in Canada and how do you intend achieving those feats you mentioned earlier in this interview?
Well I would say again; not by power nor by might but by my spirit says the Lord. 2004, there was only one church. Fast-forward fourteen and half years, it was like we are having one church each year and my vision for the next seven years is that at least, there should be seventy new churches across Canada. We need to do this number so that there can be place for our people to stay. Many people; fervent believers leave the Anglican Church in Nigeria to join the Caucasian church in Canada where services are done in 30 minutes, 1 hour and are uncomfortable then they leave. They’d go join other new generation churches because they are good; they are made pastors, deacons and they aren’t coming back to Anglican no more, they enjoy where they are. They don’t want to die spiritually so, they find a home and so, if the Anglican church will not open door to some of our younger and older brothers, sorry, they have to move on to other places where they will be satisfied spiritually.
It seems Africans are more of missionaries in the western world. How would you react to this?
I’m gonna say yes because like I said, the West is very comfortable right now. They brought the gospel to us sadly, they need us now. Some of them are too proud to accept that they need us, you know; just like you used to be the boss. So, we know, haven led them this long, they need us. We need missionaries! Not only in Canada but in the Whole of North America and United States. But we need to beware, we don’t want missionaries who are just after Dollars and Cents or for greener pastures.
Well, I say to pastors or priests, it’s okay to have greener pasture, I want you to succeed, look after your parents and siblings but not at the detriment of the gospel. The gospel must be number one. If the Lord decides to bless you with material things, it’s okay but let that not be your priority, seek first the kingdom of God. That’s my goal and I’m willing to spend anything. Personally for me, once its information, I want to do that. The gospel is more important.
What is the extent of Apostasy in the west?
Like I said, it’s a serious issue. People have backslidden, they are preaching dangerous gospel. Gospel of same sex, gospel of transgender, gospel of well, it doesn’t matter, gospel of quick faith even the gospel of prosperity – it came from there. They brought the bad gospel to us. Gospel without suffering, Christianity without suffering; it’s not possible. You know, Jesus said it that in this world there would be tribulation, challenges but we should be of good cheer because he has overcome the world. And so, it’s very clear. We know what the scripture says also that, anybody that will live a godly live must suffer persecution; that was what Paul said to Timothy.
Today, the gospel we want to teach is God bless you, you’re gonna be a Millionaire tomorrow. Not all of us will be Millionaires. And, if God does not heal me, it doesn’t mean He has abandoned me. God is still God! I want Him to heal me – I believe in healing, deliverance and miracle but if God decides not to do it, it doesn’t mean He’s not God anymore. Lazarus was never a rich man but we were told he made it to heaven. The rich man was rich, but not rich towards God; he did not make it. Wealth is good but we need to be very careful. So, it’s painful when you have apostasy in the church. I heard a Bishop say Jesus might not be the son of God. I heard a Bishop who said Jesus is just one of the ways when the scripture we carry tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And here is the head of a big congregation; the former Presiding Bishop of United States. If she is saying Jesus is one of the ways, what gospel does she have to give? And that’s why we need to be very careful of false gospel; the gospel according to your belly is also going on in that place.
Would you say it is difficult for Blacks to attract Whites into their Church?
Well, it’s not that it’s difficult. Don’t forget, there are cultural differences and we have to be sensitive to that. It’s not difficult to get the Caucasians to join. I mean, gospel is the gospel. It will affect both Black and White and so, we just have to present it to them in a way that would be acceptable or for them to understand without compromising. There are things we can do in Africa here that we cannot do over there because of the policy, the rules but the gospel can still be preached in the same way. So, it is not that it is difficult; I just think it is necessary for us to understand where we are and do things, and plan things that would attract men to Christ.
Some people say it’s wrong for a pastor not to have something doing, citing the examples of Peter as a Fisherman. What’s your stance on this, sir?
Yes, I work and I do own a business called CCI – Culture Connect International; we do have CCI Rentals, CCI Immigration and CCI Mortgages and there is nothing wrong in that. However, some people are fulltime. They have no other work, no other job. Even in the Old Testament, Elisha had to sell everything to follow Elijah. He was a big man indeed but then he wanted to follow. Certainly, I think that’s not the way it should be. You can be working or be a tentmaker. Paul was a tentmaker; we have no record of Peter going back to his fishing business. We have evidence that Peter was fulltime and Paul was working fulltime but he was working as a tentmaker. So, both aspects of ministry are welcome in the Church. One thing I know; many of those God have called are not lazy; that’s where I have problems with lazy pastors. Even if you are fulltime or tent making, be committed to it, be business-like. Run it as if it’s your personal business. It’s your father’s business so it is your business. It’s not about making money. Laziness and armchair Christians, and this feeling like I have come to the place of rest is where the problem is.