The proverbial story of plantain shrubs and cocoa trees.
We all have our first spiritual contact with the home Church: christened and trained in the children Sunday school section , where we learnt about the scripture and living a Godly live. The home Church was our second home and second school in the real sense of it.
We dare not miss the Sunday service under the guidance of our parents. We made many friend contacts growing up in the community with school mates and church members . There we have our godmothers and godfathers who from our birth stood as sureties for us promising three things on our behalf including the promise to reject sins and satanic influence, the assurances that Christ came and died for our sake and that we shall resurrect with him on judgement day. The home Church was surely the foundation of our early life and the ultimate medium of our first contact with the Lord and savior.
Many of us served in various capacities, as choristers, as stewards or even Sunday school assistants. We recieved sound tutelage from the Preachers , the Catechists and Layreaders who read the scripture to our hearings and taught us lessons from the Old and New testaments. You dare not forget your memory verses or the title of the sermon as you must give account of all these when you return home . God forbid you forget , you will atone with either strokes of cane or delayed lunch untill you can remember and recite them correctly.
We therefore learnt so well to listen to the sermon and rehearse our memory verses with passion. It really helped in building our character model as a true son of God and a child well brought up in a Christian home.
Baptism and confirmation were like rituals of proper initiation into the church. As Anglican communicants, we derived a lot of joy from these two ceremonies, if you are not Baptised from the Baptismal pot and receieved the laying of hand of the Bishop (confirmation) then you are not yet a full and recognised member of the church. You must memorise the catechism and rehearse well to be able to answer questions from the Bishop who will ask each candidate relevant questions to which right answers must be given in the presence of the Congregation on your confirmation day.
It was usually an occasion to pose with the Lord Bishop in his beautiful red and white flowing robe ,the officiating clergies, friends and family members while there will be light entertainment of guests at home and atimes confirmation parties after the usual colourful confirmation service.
We enjoyed the harvest occasions , the celebration of Christmas and Easter festivals. These were occasions for the usual ceremonial dresses , occasions to wear new clothes , new shoes and other accessories. We feed like rams and cows on the sales stock. Have you forgotten the side attractions of garetta, the orchestra singers , the bandset and sharing of food early in the morning on these special occasions. These were occasions we visit our family members , relatives and our parents’ friends who will also feed us and give us money which we will keep in our “kolo bank” or kept with our Mummies (hmmm monies lost in transit😀😀😀). We were even fed with biscuits and sweets during Sunday schools.
These were how we were mentored around the home Church : full of activities and lots of fun then . But what happened thereafter after becoming adults and moving into the big cities with strong economic empowerment? We forgot the home Church: that worship center that raised us and a significant part of our upbringing . The place where we were nurtured and trained for later life. The home Church thus become the proverbial plantain shrubs that nursed the cocoa trees but suddenly became irrelevant and neglected in the face of the economic prosperity of the cocoa tree .
After becoming big men, we contribute much wealth to the well-being of our city churches while the home churches are left uncared for. The Pastors in the city churches ride big cars and live in comfortable accommodations with opulence while our home Pastors were never remembered. These are men of God who never cease praying for us through visitation to our parents or during special church programmes. Very few were willing to receive them when they visit us in diaspora. We are big launchers and major contributors to the city church projects but never seen for assistance in our home churches when we are mostly needed.
Alas! during family occasions such as burials or family harvest and birthday ceremonies we choose to come home not ashamed of the dilapidating old pews ,tattered choir robes and altar clothes . We bring our visitors most of whom are members of our city churches as guests forgetting that they will surely form opinions about us and our people the way they have seen our home church .
On the final home call , hmmmmm, that is when our body will return to the same church auditorium that brought us up for our famous life but which we have neglected over the years .
My dear brothers and sisters, let us remember our home churches and give much for their well being, the way we contribute to the growth and prosperities of the city churches who never knew us nor played roles in our lives when we were nobody but reaping the fruits of our nourishment by the home background.
*Ajiroba Dapo Oke Is the Diocesan Communicator
Diocese of Yewa (AnglicanCommunion)