DESPITE division among Protestant churches over female ordination either because of cultural prohibition, theological doctrine, or a combination of the two, the St. Joseph’s Chosen Church of God, SJCCG, penultimate weekend ordained its first set of female ministers in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Penultimate Sunday, in a very colorful ceremony at the national headquarters of the church in Benin, 43 persons, including 27 female members, were ordained pastors to climax a 4-day 67th annual delegates conference presided over by the pioneer Director-General of Nigeria Stock Exchange, Apostle Alile.
The process which comprised a procession with the each candidate carrying his own cross, the cleaning/washing of the candidates by the senior ministers which is followed by the robing, and the anointing by the spiritual leader.
He was assisted by a horde of senior apostles and ministers of the church including Apostle Wilfred Omorogie, Ikponmwosa, Nosa Omozuyi, Staff Pastor Levi Ogbonna among others.
The ordainees included two pastors, Samuel Ohaegbu and Obadiaru were upgraded to the office of apostles. After the ordination exercise, six of the female pastors were immediately promoted to the post of Staff pastors. They included Pastor Pat Alile, Gloria Konyeshi, Mariam Omoregie, Bridget Dafe, Hosana Okoh and Victoria Obadiaru.
Female ordination had been a very controversial issue among denominations in which ordination, the process by which a person is consecrated or set apart for the administration of various religious rites) or the role that an ordained person fulfills has traditionally been restricted to men.
The last week exercise is in fufillment of the decision of the council of St. Joseph’s Chosen Church of God headed by Apostle Hayford Alile last year in favour of female ordination as part of ongoing re-organisation in the church predominantly governed by spiritual revelations through the Holy Spirit which manifest through the prophets and prophetesses, visionaries and dreamers, has approved the ordination of women.
It will recalled that Sunday Vanguard exclusively reported in September 2012 that the first batch of 25 female ministers including the wife of the Spiritual Leader, then Deaconness Patience Alile, a daughter of the founder, Mrs. Star Abache would be ordained in February after the church’s annual delegates conference.
Apostle Alile in an interview then, confirmed the development, saying that the proposal for female ministers had been in the card long before the passage of the founder of the church, Apostle Joseph Ikechiukwu who was a little hesitant because he could not identify experienced female members for ordination.
The conference which featured several activities including the selection of ministers, lectires, bible quiz, a book launch, award ceremony for the best dressed minister in the church was attended by two representatives of the Oba of Benin, the Ihekhuuoba of Benin, Chief S.O. Asuen and the Uso of Benin Kingdom, Chief Nosa Egharevba.
In his opening remark, the spiritual leader, Apostle Alile described the world today as a theatre of the absurd, noting “it is not an exaggeration to say that our world is in great turmoil and it is burning with fever worse than that of Peter’s mother-in-law.”
According to him, it was while he was holidaying in one of his daughter’s home in the US that he got a divine revelation that gave him a theme, ‘No limit’, for this year; which also formed the title of the book. He said ‘No Limit’ is a soiritual mandate which must be declared in any situation that we find ourselves.
In one of the lectures, Deaconness Bridget Dafe who spoke on ‘The vessels of God’, said: “As a vessel you are essentially a carrier and what you carry is a function of what you have put in your inside over time,” noting that human beings often look for someone else to blame for their predicament and wallow in self pity and mediocrity “thereby converting ourselves into carriers of complaints, mutmurings about the economy, criticisms about our places of work and worship.”
Pentecostal churches and several Protestant denominations ordain church leaders who have the task of equipping all believers in their Christian service. These leaders (variously styled elders, pastors or ministers) are seen to have a distinct role in teaching, pastoral leadership and the administration of sacraments.
Traditionally these roles were male preserves, but over the last century, an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining wom-en. The notion of a priesthood reserved to a select few is seen as an Old Testament concept, inappropriate for Christians. Since no woman appeared in the New Testament as ordained ministers, many Protestant churches continue to restrict ordination to males.