Yesterday, I went to the Diocese of Awka for the annual synod. It was held in the Cathedral right in the middle of town. The cathedral is an incredible building – sprawling, with lots of crazy angles, and plenty of side rooms for meetings and whatnot. I won’t say that it was exactly to my architectural tastes but it was impressive nonetheless. It was dedicated about two years ago.
Right next door, literally ten feet away from the new cathedral was the old one, a tiny little church built by the missionaries. There was nothing wrong with it – it was functional and served its purpose. It’s time was up. (To be fair, it was never built to be a cathedral. Awka is a relatively new diocese.) When I walked inside, there was a chicken crossing the floor. (Why did the chicken cross the cathedral? I don’t know.)
I read in the synod program the diocese’s proposal to build a new conference and retreat center to host not only church groups but also business and non-governmental organizations. The estimated price tag is close to 17-million dollars. My diocese in the U.S. has closed its conference center and is on the verge of selling the property.
The Anglican Church in Nigeria – and I say this having experienced only wealthy dioceses thus far – is a confident and forward-looking organization. They are well-organized and well-run. If I needed any further confirmation (and I don’t) that the control of the church, which for some time has resided with people like me (white, male, educated, western), has passed to others, the synod meeting in Awka is a pretty good testament. So what is my role here?