CW: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us regarding the plans and expectations for the C.C.C U.S.A National Convention.
As the Regional Head of the Region hosting this convention tagged “The Clarion Call”, we would like the audience and prospective attendees to hear from you. What is this convention about?
MA: I will like to thank the Almighty for His special grace upon us in this Diocese, especially in this Region (Region B) since the onset of the plans towards convention 2019. I also thank you, the magazine editor, and all those who have put this forum together. May the Almighty continue to crown all your efforts regarding His business. Celestial Church needs this type of publication so that the world can know who we are. This is another step forward in fulfilling the prophecy sent by Papa Oshoffa that this church would cleanse the whole world. I thank you for inviting me to be a part of this special grace. This convention is special because we look into all the issues confronting this church. This convention is solely addressing these identified issues. The convention is about the barriers preventing the manifestation of the Lord’s promise regarding His church, and the things that we are doing as Celestians that is not attractive to the whole world. The founder has laid the foundation and we need to start building upon that foundation. I have asked myself this: what is blocking this church from capturing just 1 billion people out of about 7 billion people?
CW: Thank you for this enlightenment sir.
You mentioned that the convention is centered on Celestial fold and the world; looking into the challenges facing the fold. We had the opportunity to see publicity content advertising the convention and we were able to see seven specific topics of research that would be discussed. Are you able to state these topics and explain what inspired this initiative?
MA: Upon the assignment of this convention to Region B, the holy spirit ministered unto me 7 topics which summarised the challenges facing the church. These topics are; ‘’Unifying and Institutionalizing Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide”, “Church Planting and Implementation Strategy”, “Celestial Youth Retention Strategy”, “Celestial Church Succession Plan”, “Church Discipline and Respect”, “Church Investment and Finance Management”, and “Public Relations in Celestial Church”. Realistically, 3 days is insufficient to treat all the topics and recommendations. However, the convention committee brainstormed on creating sub-committees designated to work on research papers. Each sub-committee was tasked to write publishable content in form of a book that can be a reference point to the topics assigned to them. An example is “why are the youth leaving the church”, which is in regards to youth retention. The team leader of the sub-committee assigned to this topic shared questionnaires in the process of gathering data. Nearly all of these sub-committees have completed their research. The highlights of each topic would be presented and deliberated upon at the convention. The recommendations and books would be taken back to local parishes for implementation, with the approval of the present Pastor, the trustee and the church. The plan is for the results of these research topics to be a blueprint to be applied to mitigating the identified problems in the fold.
CW: Thank you for breaking this down sir.
Sir, you sighted an example in your previous response which hinted on Celestial youth departure from the fold. We observed through another publicity content that the first C.C.C U.S.A Diocese National Youth Convention is also taking place alongside the main convention. Can you provide us with more insight into this?
MA: We believe that the involvement of the youth is important to the success of whatever plans we are drafting as elders. Jesus Himself said in the scripture; “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). For the past 10 years, the convention has been organized and run without the input of the youth. Second, the youth are the future of this church. There is no way we cannot start training our future; we have to start working with them and watch them perform before we all leave this world. Some people do not acknowledge that we cannot live in this world forever. It is high time we started handing the reins over to our youth; teaching them and providing them with forums for exposition regarding the fold. For the upcoming convention, the adults would assemble in a hall, the youth would assemble in a different hall of theirs to brainstorm and afterwards, both groups would converge in a single hall to discuss these aforementioned issues, other issues identified by the youth among themselves and possible ways to mitigate these.
CW: With all of these research topics being worked on, we understand that books would be published on each. Is there an implementation strategy in place to monitor compliance, application and practice of recommendations? After the 3-day convention, what is next?
MA: Thank you very much for this question. This is one of the best questions ever asked. The Chairman of the convention and we discussed the importance of follow-up with the 2019 convention committee. First, at the beginning of the convention committee meetings, we started with identifying about goals, objectives, implementation strategies and follow-up. The outcome(s) of the convention will be examined and all the participants would be provided with notes and a packet to take back to their parishes and regions, to implement the outcome of the convention. Starting from the last day of the 2019 convention till the beginning of the 2021 convention, the plan in place is to monitor compliance of parishes in each region and country. Hence, the work of the committee does not end with the closure of the 2019 convention. For example, the investment committee would advise the attendees on how to start a daycare, a group home, invest in real estate and other things of such nature. The applicability and practicability of the recommendations would be analyzed and assessed. At the 2021 convention, a report on the progress being made, challenges encountered and room for opportunities, in the gap of 2 years of implementation would be presented. It has been identified that lack of following up undermines implementation strategies.
CW: You mentioned that the 2019 convention committee and subcommittees are responsible for monitoring compliance. It is our understanding that there is an active Disciplinary Committee in the Diocese. Would this task force be involved in the monitoring strategies for these research problems being addressed?
MA: The sub-committee handling the research on Church Discipline and Respect is designated to handle the maintenance of discipline in the application of the outcomes of the convention. Although the existing Disciplinary Committee of the Diocese is welcome at any time to join the 2019 committees in this alleviation project, their involvement can only be authorized by the Head of the U.S.A Diocese, V/S/E Joseph Olorunnisola, whom I report to. The Chairman of the 2019 convention, Sup. Evang. Deji Kayode Nunayon reports to me. However, the 2019 committee can look into the possibility of their involvement with him.
CW: Is the plan in place for the outcome of the convention to be applied first in the Celestial Churches in the U.S.A Diocese before exporting to other countries, or the plan in place is to propagate the implementation strategies to Celestial Churches in the U.S.A as well as those in other countries upon closure of the 2019 convention?
MA: Yes, the plan is to disseminate the information regarding the outcomes and strategies everywhere right away. We are expecting attendees not only from Nigeria, but from the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries. It is the expectation that the notes and packet provided to them regarding the identified topics, would be shared in parishes of their countries, states, regions. The goal is to have all hands on deck and this is a call of duty to all members of the Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide to take action in alleviating the issues that plague our fold.
CW: Thank you again, sir. On a final note, we understand that planning a big convention as this comes with challenges of its own. How has the 2019 convention committee been able to overcome the challenges faced so far?
MA: Honestly, I cannot begin to delve into the challenges being faced but our weapon has been fasting and prayers. We believe that with God nothing is impossible and that has kept us motivated.
CW: Thank you for patiently responding to all of our questions sir. This concludes our interview. It is our prayer that the Lord strengthens and upholds you and the convention committee, as you work towards the success of the convention. Thank you again for your time.
MA: Amen to your prayers. It has been a pleasure talking with you! I like to see the youth do great things in the Celestial Church. May this organisation continue to do exploits.
CW: Amen, thank you sir.