Ven Tunde Owoyele @ 60 recalls near-death experience says, “I am a recipient of God’s mercy”

by Church Times

As a young boy growing up in Agboyi community of the Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State, Ven Tunde Owoyele had the onerous task of tolling the bell in the belfry of St. Barnabas Anglican Church in the community.


Though he was not the sexton of the church, his father who was the lay reader cum warden of the church would wake him up as early as 5 am to go and toll the huge church bell.


Young Tunde would wriggle out of bed reluctantly, lit the lantern, and march to the church which was a walking distance from their house. He would ring the bell and return to his sleep.

But then, he had to repeat the assignment for the second and last time in another 10 minutes.


If perchance he slept off, his father would descend on him with a knock on his head; meaning “go back and toll the bell again. The bell was to call the attention of worshipers to the morning prayers.

Ven Owoyele and his wife Sesi

Church Bell

 His father would then conduct the prayer session with a handful of worshipers in attendance. That was done every day of the week.  Beyond that, Owoyele had first-hand training in church culture. The hymns and prayer chants of the Anglican Church became a part of him having participated in virtually all programmes in the church. As time went by, he became the church choir though he had no formal knowledge in music.

 Unknown to him, God was preparing him for the exciting journey of priesthood in the Anglican Communion.

Owoyele who has put in 35 years as a priest in the Anglican Church clocks 60 on Wednesday, December 13. Looking back, he believes it was God who used his father to give him that solid foundation. It is that background that has made him a shining star in the community of priests in the Anglican Church.  

Ironically, he didn’t set out to be a priest. By the time he finished his secondary education, he secured a job with the Lagos State Ministry of Agric and Cooperative. He was also into thrift and Credit business. Money was not a problem so to say. He was giving out soft loans to artisans and people in the community. He was also a custodian of their funds.

But the time came when there was the need to ordain some lay readers in the church. A member of the church was mandated to submit two names. Owoyele’s name was not among the two. But many in the church kicked against the list. They knew Owoyele had been quite active in church and so insisted his name must be included.

 The Marina Interview

Eventually, his name was added to the two. He turned out to be the youngest among them. By the time they got to the Chairman of the District Church Council as it was then known, the chairman told him he would be a priest and not a lay reader and that he should allow the other two to go for the lay reader licensing.

Days after he received a letter that he should come to Christ Church, Marina which was the seat of the Bishop of Lagos for an interview. He went for the interview along with several other people. In the end, only 12 of them were chosen.

They were special candidates chosen by the late Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye. Out of the 12, five of them were asked to go to Immanuel College, Ibadan for their theological training while seven were to go to Vining College, Akure

Also read: Why Anglican Diocese of Lagos West is soaring

 They were to be trained by those colleges and sent back to the Diocese of Lagos. Owoyele trained at Vining College and came back to Lagos in 1988. “We were ordained by Baba Adetiloye on the 26th of June 1988. The present Bishop of the Lagos, The Rt Revd Ifedola Okupevi is my friend we were ordained priests the same day. I was his best man during his wedding.”

Ven Owoyele in traditional outfit

Journey begins 

That was the beginning of his priesthood journey. Since then till now, he has served in several churches of the communion, making impact, building lives and infrastructure

By 2024, he would put in 20 years as archdeacon in the Communion. He concedes that “the journey has been so good. It is the Lord’s doing. I experienced rough times and faced many challenges. Despite the hiccups on my way, God has been giving me victory. At 60 I give glory to God because I believe he has a purpose for my life.”

 As much as he tries to keep a low key, God in his mercy pushes him up and grants him unimaginable access to things he never bargained for.

 He served under great minds like Archbishop Adetiloye whom he served as his chaplain and also Archbishop Aduloju Agbaje who was Archbishop of the Province of Bendel and Bishop of Sabongida Ora.

 “I was with Archbishop Agbaje at St. Judes Ebute meta. From 1988 to January 1992. Some people thought I charmed him because of the affection he had for me. But then, he was satisfied with my commitment to the ministry. He was a leader that encouraged people around him”

Ven Owoyele and his wife, Sesi

About Awori and Adetiloye

Owoyele, an Awori man, does not agree that his people are marginalised in the Anglican Church. “Our people are accommodating. Sometimes visitors take advantage of their receptive nature to spite them.

 “But when it has to do with the Anglican Church, I don’t think we have been sidelined. The church is the house of God. If God has ordained a position for a person, nobody can stop the person. Everything is about God’s timing. We must also not forget that the Aworis are not many compared to the other tribes.  Our people are predominantly farmers and artisans. Many of them are not into priesthood.”

Ven Owoyele and son during graduation ceremony

 On his relationship with the late Archbishop Adetiloye, He offers, “My experience with Baba Adetiloye was simply great. Baba had trust in people so much. I took after him in that regard. I was like his ADC when I served him as chaplain. There were many times he would pass the food he was supposed to eat to me when we went to public functions. But you have got to eat fast because he may take off anytime and you have to follow him. His retentive memory was so great. He was a genius. He was a church historian and was quite articulate.”

 What 60 means

But what does turning 60 mean to Owoyele? “It means I have 10 more years in active service for the Lord. I thank God that I am still relevant at 60. “God has given me the grace to be content with what I have.

“Turning 60 is a thing of joy to me. I would have died 22 years ago when I had an accident. Nobody thought I would survive the accident. The vehicle was written off, but God intervened and brought me back to life again. It was God. My recovery was rapid, all the people I met at the Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital, whose cases were not as bad as mine; I left them in the hospital. People were fighting to be on my bed by the time I was leaving the hospital where I spent two months. They wanted to tap into the grace of my quick recovery.”

Still, on the accident, he says he was driving from Badagry when he ran into a ditch. “I was thrown to the other side of the road and my vehicle had a head-on collision with another vehicle. The vehicle was a write-off. But God showed me mercy.”

Owoyele and family

 Grace to meet people

The Anglican cleric is currently Vicar at Christ Church, Agege, and the Archdeacon of the Agege Archdeaconry in the Diocese of Lagos West. He had served in that same parish about 11 years ago.

He says, “God has given me the grace to meet with great people. I celebrate great men who have passed through this way. I celebrate my current bishop, The Rt Rev James Odedeji for giving me the atmosphere to share in his episcopal assignment. I celebrate him for recognising the godly endowment on our lives.”

 At 60, Owoyele says he would like to be known for being diligent and being bold. “Wherever I serve, I want to leave a Legacy of absolute trust in God and a legacy of possibility. I do not believe there is something impossible, I believe that with God all things are possible.”

His immediate family

His wife, Sesi Owoyele, a professional teacher, and his children have also been succour for him.  He states, “One of the best things that can happen to a man is a good home. God has blessed me with one. That is why I can look back and give God praise for my life. My wife and children are a great source of encouragement for me”

 His positivism is evident in the legacy projects he has carried out in virtually all the churches he served. In less than five months in his present place of assignment, he reconstructed the vicarage of the church to the admiration of all.

While glorifying God for the diamond jubilee, he says, “I have been more humbled than before. I overlook all sorts of insults because I am also a recipient of God’s mercy. This Diamond jubilee has made me know that God is good and his mercy endures forever. I encourage people to have faith in God. I am optimistic that I will be 70, I will be 80, and enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living.”


Related Posts

Leave a Comment