As churches filled with songs, dances, vibrant colors, and passionate prayers, the WCC visitors accompanied the host churches in celebrating their unique gifts and listening to the challenges they face in their daily lives.
Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union and vice moderator of the WCC central committee, preached at the First Baptist Church in Abuja, reflecting on human rights and freedom.
“When we are seized by God’s call, everything and anything that could be regarded as competing interest or could detract from God’s call to service in the mission of God, must be put into perspective,” said Hyde Riley. “The mission to which we are called is more important than our idiosyncrasies or the claims we may make about our churches and ourselves.”
She talked about a new orientation—a new way of thinking, being, and living.
“Some of us have become complacent and we believe there is no longer any necessity or urgency, or somebody else should do it,” Hyde Riley said. “May God forgive us for the assumptions we make to absolve ourselves of the call of God upon our lives to be agents of the mission of God.”
Hyde Riley suggested we pause and take stock. “There will be times in our lives when we are tempted to lose perspective,” she said. “We have this obligation to be a part of this transformation that God is making possible.”
In reflecting on some of the people he met and stories he heard in churches, WCC moderator Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said his heart was touched. “In many ways it is a wonderful country with wonderful people,” he said, but added that people’s stories of attacks on Christian congregations were painfully sad.
“The tears of a woman who told us about such an attack on a congregation and the murders she had to witness are still fresh on my mind,” said Bedford-Strohm. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. If there’s any consolation in the face of so much violence, it is this firm trust that, in the end, there will be peace.”
WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay preached at the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria.
Churches visited included The First African Church Mission, Methodist Church Nigeria, Nigeria Baptist Convention, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) , Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Reformed Church of Christ for Nations, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, The Church of the Lord (Prayer fellowship) Worldwide, and the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria.