"It was very important to gather today, and to make these catechists feel that they are part of a bigger family," reflected His Eminence ALEXANDER, Metropolitan of Nigeria, at the conclusion of the recent OCMC Virtual Team training seminar for 29 catechists in the Benue State of Nigeria.
700 Orthodox faithful. 29 Catechists. 21 communities. Two Orthodox priests. In Benue State in central Nigeria, these dedicated clergy and catechists are responsible for a vibrant and growing Church. Many of the communities have thatched roof church buildings with mud walls that need repairs after any substantial rainfall. This is the reality in many places around the world.
Here, as in other countries, Orthodox churches rely on catechists who minister and teach the faithful in the absence of a priest. Teaching and training the catechists requires people who have the desire to strengthen, encourage, and continue this amazing work. His Eminence ALEXANDER recently invited two additional OCMC virtual teams to continue assisting in this region.
Benue State is a largely agricultural area, with many challenges. It is into these situations that the Orthodox Church offers hope. The recent OCMC virtual outreaches to Nigeria included catechist training and a parish retreat. The virtual team members included individuals from Alaska, Pennsylvania, Florida, OCMC staff in Poland, OCMC missionary in Romania, and even a guest appearance by a rooster called Friendly.
Twenty-nine catechists gathered for the OCMC Catechists seminar. Presentation topics included Church history, the revitalization of the Church, and services done by the catechist. The parish retreat gathered over 110 Orthodox faithful at the St. Stephen Church, where they received a brief catechism on the Orthodox Church, living the faith, Orthodox weddings, and understanding traditions.
Speaking about his ministry, His Eminence ALEXANDER pointed out that it takes place under difficult conditions, where he faces many obstacles. At the same time, there are great prospects for Orthodoxy in the country. His Eminence notes, “there is interest and even direct requests for the catechesis to be organized by various local leaders.”
The Church has struggled to establish institutions that would support the growth that is possible due to lack of resources. His Eminence and his dedicated clergy are committed to training up competent clergy, catechists, and lay leaders to facilitate future growth and development.
With limited means and resources, it's not easy for the Orthodox in Nigeria to delve into the faith as much as they'd like to. These virtual teams help them overcome their challenges by inviting Orthodox Christians to come together across the world, support them, and make a direct impact in their lives. Indeed, they have a better understanding that they are a vital part of the larger worldwide Orthodox family!
OCMC Virtual Teams continue to assist and support the ongoing effort to share the Love of Christ and “teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to serve on an upcoming virtual team. Click here for additional opportunities.