The Niger Delta Diocese of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria is abuzz with excitement as it announced the commemoration of its 70th anniversary celebration. The celebration, which kicked off on Monday, November 13, promises a week filled with various activities to honor the rich history and contributions of the diocese.
In a press conference held at the Bishop’s Court, Harley Street in Old GRA, Port Harcourt, on Monday, the Bishop of the Niger Delta Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, spoke passionately about the significance of this milestone.
He said that the Niger Delta Diocese holds the distinction of being the third oldest diocese in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and is considered the mother of all dioceses within Niger Delta and Aba Provinces, spanning across Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia, and Bayelsa States.
Bishop Oko-Jaja expressed gratitude for the missionary efforts of the late Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first black indigenous Bishop in Nigeria, who played a pivotal role in introducing the self-propagating, self-supporting, and self-governing model after the Church Missionary Society.
He disclosed that the history of the Niger Delta Diocese would be incomplete without acknowledging the significant contributions of King William Dappa Pepple of Ancient Bonny Kingdom, who brought Christianity to the Niger Delta region.
The Bishop added that the diocese, inaugurated on January 1, 1952, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Bonny, has witnessed the leadership of distinguished bishops, each contributing to its growth and influence.
Noting that the 70th anniversary celebration was originally scheduled for 2022, Bishop Oko-Jaja went on to reel out the exciting details of the week-long program as follows:
On Monday, the 13th of November, 2023, a Media Chat/Parley will take place at the Bishop’s Court on Harley Street, Port Harcourt, starting at 12 noon.
The festivities continue on Tuesday, the 14th of November, with an Anniversary Lecture titled “Hominum Piscators – Platinum Journey in the Niger Delta Diocese.” Most Rev. Isaac C. Nwobia, the Archbishop of Aba Province and Bishop of Isiala Ngwa South Diocese, will deliver the lecture at St. Peter’s Deanery on 50B Hospital Road, Port Harcourt, beginning at 3:00 pm.
Wednesday, the 15th of November, will see a Diocesan Funfair/Carnival taking place at the Sharks Football Stadium on Hospital Road, Port Harcourt, starting at 10:00 am.
Bishop Oko-Jaja said the celebration will reach its peak on Saturday, the 18th of November, with an Anniversary Dinner/Awards Night scheduled to be held at the Hago Heights Events Centre on Peter Odili Road, Port Harcourt, beginning at 3:00 pm.
The grand finale of the anniversary week will unfold on Sunday, the 19th of November, 2023, at St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church, 37 Hospital Road, Port Harcourt. The 70th-anniversary Thanksgiving Service/Conferment of Awards will feature His Grace, The Most Rev. Dr. Henry C. Ndukuba, the Primate and Metropolitan of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, serving as the guest preacher.
Awards will be presented in various categories, recognizing the outstanding contributions of Church Fathers, Clergy, Traditional Rulers, Technocrats/Captains of Industry, Governors, and their deputies. The primary objective is to generate funds for infrastructural development, investments, and evangelism/missions.
As the 7th Bishop of the Niger Delta Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Oko-Jaja outlined the vision and goals for the future, emphasizing key aspects such as Evangelism and Missions (including Church planting), Welfare of Pastors, Church Workers, and Laity, Teaching of God’s word, Training of Pastors and Laity, Effective Intercession and Discipline, Probity and Accountability, and Investment and Monumental Projects.
The celebration not only reflects on the diocese’s illustrious past but also signifies a commitment to a vibrant and impactful future in service to the community and the Anglican Communion.