A Church's Dark Moments
By Joseph Onyekwere
Monday, November 21, 2005
Celestial Church of Christ, currently languishing in crisis begins the search out of the darkness.
IEPE Asebiomo, the leader of the Unification and Renaissance Mission of the Celestial Church of Christ, CCC, has predicted that the church will witness a period of peace and unity again. That is when the entire church has come under one umbrella with one universal leader. Asebiomo told Newswatch that God spoke to him and instructed him to bear the burden of uniting the leadership of the church.
Asebiomo who is now working to achieve this has advised all contenders to the leadership of the church to come under one umbrella. To show his determination, he convened several reconciliatory meetings that brought most of the contenders and members of the board of trustee together. To him, none of the eight contenders is universally acceptable as the pastor and supreme head of CCC, hence the need for dialogue.
He said: "In the last 58 years of the CCC existence, it has only produced two universally acknowledged leaders as head of the church worldwide. The first was the founder himself SBJ Oshoffa while the next was A.A. Bada, his immediate assistant." He said that Bada was challenged by the Eguns in the Republic of Benin when he aspired for the post while J.K. Owodunni went to court against Bada. Bada was proclaimed supreme evangelist and head of the church but not pastor.
Asebiomo said. There were currently four groups with individual heads laying claim to this same office. They include factional pastors such as Daniel B. Agbaosi, of the Republic of Benin Diocese, with headquarters in Port Novo, Paul S. Maforikan, leading a faction of the Nigeria Diocese with headquarters in Tejuosho parish, Lagos, Emmanuel Oshoffa who leads a faction of Nigerian Diocese with headquarters in Ketu, Lagos and Josiah Owodunni leading a faction of Nigeria diocese with headquarters in Ijeshatedo, Surulere, Lagos. Others are US-based Bolanle Shonekan leading a faction of the Nigerian Diocese with headquarters in Agege, Lagos and Edward Oladokun based in Ikorodu, Lagos.
The other groups are those who have eventually left the parent church, adding different words to their names to give it an independent identity. The groups are: Celestial Evangelical Church, Idioro, Lagos; Celestial Evangelical World Crusaders, Bammeke, Lagos; led by Johnson Sodipe and Rebisi Group of Churches, Port Harcourt led by Demola Hasstrup. The third category of acclaimed leader are self-identified pastorship candidates without parish but who lay claim all the same to the position based on alleged 'prophetic messages' delivered to them, and consecrated or non-consecrated parish shepherds who though don't claim pastorship but issue pastoral orders in their individual parishes. These group of shepherds do not pay their monthly due to any headquarters.
Asebiomo's grouse with all the contenders arose from the fact that each of them was appointed against universal consultation and approval. "Based on this, he said, God was not well disposed to any of the factions and called for a universally accepted leader. This leader, he said, could come from anywhere in the world."
In an effort to reconcile the factions, seven prominent members of the church had met at the behest of the Unification and Renaissance Mission and decided unanimously that the church is one indivisible body of Christ. Factors that led to the protracted crisis were also identified and discussed. Those in attendance were Taiwo Oshin, Samson Banjo, Samuel Akande, Michael Cooker, Lagun Adesanya, Emmanuel Leshi and Pepe Asebiomo.
Asebiomo said the 'universal pastor' when he emerges would be easily identified because he would be endowed like the founding pastor. "A period of peace and bliss will envelope CCC again," he said.