Talks and comments have emerged following the video of a pastor sacked from the Winners Chapel Church. The pastor named Pastor Peter Godwin narrated his ordeal on the AreaTV platform. An excerpt from the letter he showed, dated June 25th, 2021, reads:
“Consequent upon the recent performance reviews which revealed that your Church growth index falls below expectations.
“Please be informed that your services as a Pastor-in-charge are no longer required from this Commission with immediate effect.
“You are to vacate the official accommodation (where applicable) and hand over all properties of the ministry in your custody, including your Staff Identity Card to your Area pastor before departure.
“May you find grace from God for a new beginning.”
Pastor Peter Godwin also alleged that he, alongside other pastors, was laid off for his inability to generate income enough to cater to his welfare and accommodation. A source who pleaded anonymity disputed the claim and explained what happened. Below is his explanation as narrated in a publication in the Vanguard Newspaper (July 19th, 2021):
“The Living Faith Church had the vision in the year 2019 to open 10,000 rural churches nationwide.
“By the close of the year 2020, over 80 percent of these cottage churches had been built following a prototype designed and constructed by the church professionals. Then came the human factor.
“Ordinarily, pastoring in Winners Chapel had followed a pattern of training and discipleship since its foundation 40 years ago. However, in view of the massive recruitment to take charge of the new 10,000 churches, many who were neither spiritually nor morally prepared found their way into positions of authority as Pastors-in-charge,”
The source added that with good foresight, the church headquarters appointed seasoned pastors as Mission Inspectors to regularly visit ministers and monitor these rural churches.
“A lot of the inspectors’ reports were damaging with ungodly acts such as abuse of grace, outright deceit, absconding from church while working full-time elsewhere, etc.
“Ab initio (from the beginning), rural churches were never intended to be money spinners; rather, they are money guzzlers because the main church solely built, equipped and maintained both the church and its pastors-in-charge.”
Whether going by the claims of Pastor Peter Godwin or the narration from the anonymous source, some questions are worthy of concern, some of which have been raised already. Questions like: If religious bodies are not being run as a business, should words like ’employed’, ‘recruited’, ‘earned’, and ‘sacked’, be used? If the work of God is spiritual and voluntary, should clerics be paid? What is ‘produce’ in the things of God: winning souls or generating money?
Before establishing multiple branches, should there not be a certainty of the number of ordained clerics ready to take up the responsibility? Do clerics get their position in religious houses by application or divine appointment? Should a cleric be given a target to meet like a banker? Should CAC be allowed to regulate religion? Who should offended clerics report to? God, the court, or social media?
In a popular breakfast show, “Your View”, hosted by Morayo Afolabi Brown, on the 21st of July, 2021, distinct opinions from the ladies surfaced. @beeceugoh said: “A church is an organization and it needs money to function…there are other pastors that have been employed by the church to work full time; that means they are earning from the proceeds that they make so if you get to a place and you are not making that much and other people support you…you have a time frame to either sit up or you are sacked.” She backed up her stand by citing an example from the bible about a fig tree cursed for not bearing fruit.
As the discussion continued, another co-host, Mariam Longe, proposed that it is high time the church understood that it is like the trinity, too: spiritual, political, and business, expatiating that the spiritual aspect is a personal journey; that politics sets in at the worker level; while business shows up at the pastoral level. The conversation ended on a lighter note on how offenses could be resolved, suggesting that when a cleric’s appointment is based on divine calling, they cannot be sacked, but if appointed through an employment letter, they can be sacked. The political angle seemed to have no suggestion.
Regardless of who did the right or wrong thing, this could serve as an opportunity to raise objective questions aimed at the review of existing policies in systems and institutions for appropriate filtration and refinement.
♦ Favour Chiagozie Ebubechukwu is an Editorial Staff Writer and columnist with the WAP
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