The bishop theologian of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and the bishop of Ilesha diocese, The Rt Rev’d. Prof. Dapo Asaju has revealed the plans of the church of Nigeria regarding the forthcoming Theological consultation conference holding in July 2023 and also its essence. Bishop Asaju gave several reasons for the need and the essence of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Theological Consultation, during his interview with ACNNTV News crew and the communication officer of the Church of Nigeria, Korede Akintunde in Abuja.
He added, that the theological consultation was called at the instance of his grace, the primate of all Nigeria, The Most Rev’d Dr. Henry Ndukuba.
According to Prof. Asaju, Theological education is the bedrock of Christian ministry, what schools, colleges, and universities are to society is what theological seminaries are to the Church. That is where they are cooked and baked. He said, “A good theology will produce a good priest, and A bad theology will produce a bad priest who will kill the church.” He emphatically states the importance to know that Theological education is the place of training and there is a need for the curriculum that is presently used to be updated since the curriculum which has been running was the one used to produce priests of more than 50 -60 years ago, over time there has been the emergence of new issues and evolvement on conflicts and peaceful resolution, world digitalization and globalization.
He elucidates that the Theological Consultation is about bringing in the bishops, theological educators, priests, and some of the laities who are the end users and can help determine the kind of priest they want and the things they will be trained on.
He itemized the area of concentration, which are: –
The poor booking condition of the theological colleges, for it is alleged that some bishops send priests to theological schools based on sentiment or punishment.
The condition of service i.e., the salary scale and structure. The proposal is for theological educators to have separate salary scales and they should rise through the rank like the universities because many theological schools are affiliated to one university or the other. For instance, Trinity theological college is affiliated with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Job vacancies will be advertised, qualified candidates will be interviewed, and employed. Then appointments will be based on qualifications. i.e., a master’s degree holder will become an assistant lecturer, and a Ph.D. holder will be a lecturer too, so an individual can rise to become a professor in that field.
The creation of more official theological seminaries because several theological seminaries are springing up, illegally started by individual bishops and dioceses and they graduating people and putting them in the system which is very wrong and rebellious.
Bishop Asaju reiterates that the whole idea is to overhaul the idea of the theological college, structuring the minimum requirement just like the National Universities Commission (NUC) accredits universities. He said, “Theological schools should not be left out in having an accrediting body that will go through theological colleges and accredit them and also state where their deficiencies are whether in library, staffing, or curriculum.”
Meanwhile, He said affirmatively that there is a need for more theological colleges citing CONNAM in America, he said “We have two dioceses there, they don’t have any theological college. Anybody just goes there to be ordained, which should stop because they need a seminary there.” He sustained that more theological seminaries are needed in Calabar, Uyo, Niger Delta, the middle belt, and the Northern region of the country.
The consultation is a wholesome overview of theological education even sister African countries like Ghana which only have one theological college want to participate in the consultation because some of them are asking for help from the church of Nigeria to help run their seminaries.
Furthermore, he divulges that those who are expected at the conference are the Rectors and the theological lecturers in existing theological colleges, professors of theology in secular universities; religious study departments, bishops who are the real theologians of their various dioceses, the clergies because they are the ones who are going to be trained and also the laities so they can tell what kind of priest they want.
Finally, he added that the primary purpose is to train the priest to have the knowledge of the word of God, to be filled with the holy spirit, and to go out there to save souls, plant churches and win souls for the kingdom of God. He explained “They are missing it now, some think it is a profession but it is not, it is a calling so we need to look for a theological college that can form them. A lot of things are going wrong and we need to get it right so other countries like Kenya, Ghana, and America send people here for training.” He added.
For more details on the consultation and registration to attend, kindly contact The Ven. Dr. Princewill Ireoba, Director of Theological Matters via his email: firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp: +2348033491428.