There’s something undeniably exciting about riding to church in a convoy of cars.
That’s what happened to me on Sunday morning. The bishop was off to make a pastoral visit to Christ Church, the largest in the diocese. We had a four-car convoy – the archdeacon at Christ Church in his own car, two congregants in the church’s van, the bishop’s Corolla, and a visiting bishop in a Forerunner. I felt like the president on his way to make some speech. Sure, A Corolla isn’t a heavily armored limo and our convoy was quickly broken up by motorized tricycle taxis darting in and out. But it still felt neat.
Then, a few block short of Christ Church – right in the middle of Owerri’s sprawling market – we were met by a band. A band! There were about six trumpets and a few drummers. The bishop put on his stole, screwed together his collapsible crozier, got out of the car, and started waving to shoppers in the market and blessing all who passed by.
Pretty soon, we were in the church compound where scores of people were in the yard to greet the bishops. They marched around to the front doors, blessing the members of the choir as they went, and – barely missing a beat – started the procession into the service.
I got mixed up in the procession with the choir and was swept down the centre aisle. There were a thousand people in the church and it was almost too much – overwhelming music, vivid colours in the clothing, dancing, and people, so many people. But it was also amazing – the energy, the enthusiasm, the sheer sense of the magnitude of what was going on.
(Pictures do not even begin to do this justice.)
The bishop greeted everyone in what amounted to a boisterous, exuberant fifteen-minute pre-service praise session – lots of Hallelujahs, lots of singing, lots of praying, lots of laughter. Then the bishops went off, vested, came back and did the service. The energy that was there at the beginning carried through the service.
Say what you want about Anglicans in Nigeria but this cannot be denied: they’re having fun.