By Ralph Madugu
The Diocese of Jos of the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, has held a valedictory synod in honour of Bishop Benjamin Argak Kwashi as he bows out of office as the Archbishop of Jos having served for thirty-one years.
The one-day synod with the theme, “Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness,” brought together Christians from within and outside the Diocese as well as friends, relatives and Christians from other denominations.
Held at the St. Piran’s Church, Jos, the occasion featured the commissioning of Primate’s Advisory Committee and handing over of Reports, inventories and instruments of Governance of the Diocese to the Chancellor, among other spiritual exercises.
In his charge, the outgoing Archbishop, Benjamin Kwashi, described his period of service as “a rare privilege” because, according to him, “we count it, and seriously consider it, a privilege and a blessing from God to be able to lay down our pastoral staff after thirty-one years of leading the current Jos Diocese.”
The cleric added “It was a privilege – a rare privilege to be Bishop of Jos and to serve the people of God in Plateau and Nasarawa States for thirty-one years. We were privileged and blessed to have released Nasarawa State to be Diocese of Lafia in 19999, and to be part of the formation of three other new Diocese in Plateau during our period of service.”
In what could be described as an account of his stewardship as Archbishop, the cleric acknowledged that the governance of a diocese had never been the sole duty of the bishop but the “collective governance with the people of the diocese with the synod giving directions. Consequently, in thirty-one years we have always agreed as a diocese with the passing of Canons, Regulations and Resolutions on how to accomplish God’s Ministry and mission first and foremost in our local context.”
Highlighting the roles of the Bishop, he explained that the Bishop of a diocese is called to lead and to lead first as a teacher who must model what he preaches and practice what he believes and teaches.
Going down memory lane, Bishop Kwashi recalled thus “When we first came to Jos, the task looked daunting; the need for the Lord’s intervention was obvious. A vital seed was then sown in my heart when I received the vision which became inscribed on a plaque and hung on the wall of my office so that I must read it every day. This became my anchor and guide through all that followed.”
He maintained that, roughout his ministry, he had been and was still seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
He however lamented that through the centuries, many Christians had confused their priorities stating that “for many, seeking for food, drink and clothes, or perhaps wealth, shelter and security comes first, rather than seeking the Kingdom of God.”
Some, he said, even waited until retirement before turning fully to God while others think they could do both so that, while seeking the things of the world, they could be seeking the Kingdom of God which, he opined, was “stressful and self-deceiving.”
The cleric called on believers to implement the rule of God and His righteousness in all of the work they do and in the lives of the people they serve.
In doing this, Bishop Kwashi said, “we found ourselves completely at ease and content because the sovereign God whom we seek to serve will always work all things for our good and for His glory. In like manner, we have found God at work in daily providing for our needs, at all times and in all things, never too late and never too early.
“My wife and I have been delivered from exaggerating our situation at any time in our lives or even speaking against anyone, in order to evoke sympathy or draw attention or for our needs to be met.
“Gloria and I have been enriched and convinced through our experiences and walk with God up to now, and we have learnt as a fact, with gratitude, that the blessing of seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness is that we have a gospel worth living for, and a gospel worth dying for.”
There were goodwill messages from the Chancellor, Vicar General of the Diocese as well as friends, family members and former heads of other denominations, including former COCIN President, Rev. Dr Soja Bewarang and former COCIN Vice President, Rev. Dr. Obed Dashan, among others.
Highpoint of the event was the reading of the synod resolutions.