Ven. Yemi Agbelusi is the vicar of the family church on the hill of Opebi known as Anglican Church of the Ascension. Agbelusi, is an Information technologist of many years. He shares with Church Times his experience pasturing the church and his thoughts on the late Primate of the Anglican Church
You are currently the vicar of the Church of Ascension . What is your impression of the church?
The church is a peculiar church. It has a high concentration of elites who are though highly placed are very humble and are able to come together as a family to worship God. There is no racial or ethnic barrier. They have prayer meetings almost every Saturday. It is different from the normalaso ebi stuff that you see around. Their level of dedication to the cause of the gospel is intriguing. Many of them hold positions in their home churches and that has not been a barrier to them functioning in the church.
Many of them come from as far as Ikoyi, Aja, banana Sango Ota, Sagamu, Island to worship here. They have been so committed to the development of the church. It has been an eye opener. They are always willing to worship God with their substance. They are one of the highest contributors to the covenant seed initiated by the diocese some years ago. When I first came here I thought it was a tough church knowing their antecedent with priests but I now found out that they are just interested in a vicar who will meet them at their intellectual level which I think God has enabled us to do.
Does it change your impression about the Anglican Communion?
The impression that I have got so far is that if we don’t wake up and meet the needs of people like this we will lose out on them. Many of the young intellectual members of the society are in Day star, Christ Embassy and House on the Rock because pastors in those churches are meeting their needs The Anglican church has to continue to train and retrain its priest to meet the challenge of the youths of today. I think to a large extent the church is doing that but they can do more. Priests should also be up to date with current global trend.
The Anglican priest should go beyond Holy Communion service and the regular worship. The church must be defined by indepth Bible study and discipleship programme. Parishioners are not going to follow us because we are reverend or venerable but they will follow us if we are meeting their spiritual needs. Leadership is key in church development. If you don’t have the right leadership the laity will vote with their feet and walk out.
Many of our churches are empty because the leadership cannot deliver. What this church has done to me is to enable me to be fulfilled and to really exercise all that have gone to learn in school. In my first few months here when I ask them to open their Bible, I would be wondering because I would not see them opening Bibles. I was expecting them to flip through the pages of the Bible but I soon discovered that many of them use Ipads and they must have opened clicked on the Bible portion I called and would be waiting for me. The lesson there is that as a pastor there is a need to move on and update.
The prison ministry and the various ministries are doing wonderfully well. I used to take care of clergy widow before I came here. I was doing that annually but when I got here they took over the project and increased the frequency. I don’t have any challenge getting things done in this church.
Let’s talk about Adetiloye. Did you meet him?
He actually signed my form for the seminary. I was a warden in Archbishop Vinining Memorial Anglican Church, Ikeja and he wanted me to become a priest. He invited me to his office and he prayed for me and encouraged me. He said he wanted me to be trained. I was in the committee for the carnival for Christ before that time and participated in so many church activities.
Adetiloye was a rare gem. As a young man coming to the Anglican Church for the first time my fear was that it was an Ogboni church. I was not born an Anglican I was born a Baptist. But I had that impression. But my interaction with him made me to understand that this was a genuine, evangelical man. He was able to attract people who have evangelical zeal and made them take positions in the church. He was also able to break the hold of cultism in the church. That has made the Anglican Church survive till today.
He opened up the church for the youths. As other churches are growing we are also growing. If he had not been there perhaps the church would have lost many of its members. Today we cannot discontenance an Anglican Church. He is the father of the modern Anglican Church. He brought the church to where it is today. The relationship he built with his brother bishops at the LAMBETH conference was phenomenonal. When LAMBETH declared the decade of evangelism the church latched on it.
In my quest to go to the Orthodox Church the one and only person that attracted me was Adetiloye. He had a humility that is extra ordinary. He lived and worked for the people. He had no house no car at the week of his retirement. Not many bishops today can say that. Its like those calling themselves Awoist and are not living the kind of life they are living. Today many people claim to be Adetiloye’s followers but they are not one bit close to him in terms of their life.