The chairman of Lagos state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Stephen Adegbite has reiterated that the government has no power to lock down churches over the COVID-19 pandemic. In his chat with members of Christian Press Association of Nigeria (CPAN) recently in his office, Adegbite said CAN engaged the Nigerian government in a loggerhead over the lock down of churches across the country during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic started we were at loggerhead with the government over the shutting down of churches. We told them (the government) that they don’t have the power to do that. You can give your conditions and protocols but not in churches because we have the responsibility to stand in the gap between the people and God. When I die no government official will stand for me before God. I must give the account of my stewardship. We told the government that if they reopen churches the rising cases of coronavirus infection in the country would go down. Eventually, they listened to the voice of wisdom. They reopened churches and the number of cases of COVID-19 infection in the country went down,” the CAN leader recalled.
Bishop Adegbite, who was recently elected Lagos CAN chairman, promised that his administration would make efforts to address the issue of discordant tunes among church leaders on national issues that collectively affect the Church in the country. He frowned at the nonchalant attitude of some church leaders in the state to CAN meetings and activities. Adegbite, who is also a Methodist priest, said Lagos CAN under his leadership would extend a hand of unity to every pastor in the state without bias and sentiments. “We are going to extend love to everybody and bring everyone under the umbrella so that we can move forward. United we stand. Divided we fall. This is one of the things we will do in this administration.”
On the issue of charlatan preachers who bring disrepute to the collective image of the Church in the state with their unwholesome practices, and what his administration would do to check them, Adegbite said the church is complicated. He explains: “You know the church is complicated. When someone tells you the Holy Spirit asks him to do something, how can you dispute that? I will not! Despite that the scripture also says to me that we should test all spirits and know the one that is of God. God has given some people the spirit of discernment to know whether what you are saying is genuine or not. I will never come out to tell you what you are saying is not correct. We must use the approach of Christ to correct them.”
Bishop Adegbite appealed to CPAN members, who were on a courtesy visit to him on his election as Lagos CAN chair, to joins hands with CAN to work together. He said the way Christian journalists would report CAN activities would be different from the way other journalists would report them. “We must collaborate and work together to promote Christianity, the image of Christ and the body of Christ.”
Adegbite noted that Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Christian Press Association of Nigeria (CPAN) have a lot to do together as ministers in the body of Christ. “Your body (CPAN) and our association (CAN) have a lot to do together. You are Christian journalists. We are Christian chief servants in Lagos state, and also at the national level because I’m also the Director for National Youth and Social Welfare for CAN at the national level. So, we will work together and the name of the Lord will be glorified. If we don’t do that that we would fail in our duties as ministers in the body of Christ. We would collaborate to ensure that we have a better relationship with you, and also with the government,” he said.
CPAN President Mr. Gracious Akintayo, in his remark enjoined Bishop Stephen Adegbite to ensure Lagos CAN carries CPAN along in all its activities. He assured the chairman of the support of the Christian media body. “We want to assure you that information on Lagos CAN will be well disseminated by CPAN members. Apart from the print/electronic media, all of us are also on the on-line platform and other information dissemination platforms. Most of our members came from the secular media. We still maintain professionalism and standard. So, I can assure you that CPAN working with Lagos CAN will bring a success story. But we will appreciate CPAN being carried along in all Lagos CAN activities,” Akintayo appealed.