Reverend (Dr) Yemi Adekunle is the President, Ibadan Baptist Conference of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC). He speaks with TUNDE OGUNESAN on religious and national issues. Excerpts:
DON’T you think it is time NBC considered independent pastors?
The NBC is an organisation which trains pastors to serve its churches. But recently, we discovered that many pastors don’t have churches to administer, so NBC gave them opportunities to plant churches for themselves. However, they still have to operate under the guidance, principle and policy of the NBC as long as they want to answer the name ‘Baptist.’ That means the mode of worship and administration would be patterned in the Baptist way and they should be ready to abide by the church planting policy of the Baptist convention.
What is your take on the flamboyant lifestyle of some pastors?
The Baptist Church follows the way of Christ. He lived an exemplary life; he was a model to his disciples, therefore, the Baptist Church models its pastors to follow this by being simple and serving, leading people and discipling them in the way of the Lord. Naturally, a pastor should know that he has a call to take people to the Lord. In our fold, it is a rare occurence, especially when you pass through Baptist Theological Seminary. A Baptist pastor must be able to teach and encourage the tenets of the church.
How about the concerns of pastors accepting donations from questionable sources?
That is not a fault of any pastor, provided he has no clue that such source is unholy. I think it is not from our (pastors’) end because if you come in and donate to the church, you don’t ask what the source of the money is. But, if the person is a member of the church, the pastor is expected to technically know the source of that income, so that he won’t be embarrassed. I believe that as a pastor, you should, to some extent, know the families in the church, their jobs and how they are faring. The pastor should not allow anyone pocket him with money. I will urge all churches to follow the Baptist biblical principle – every pastor should teach the word of God in such a way that people would follow the example of Christ. The Bible is our standard and all pastors must operate in line with this standard which is universal and timeless.
Following the recent massacre in a church in Ozubulu, Anambra State, do you think the church is lacking in substantial security measures?
That incident is a very sad experience. It is the prerogative of the church to be security-conscious and to make sure that the members are safe when worshipping. The churches should take note because that incident has now exposed that the safety of everyone in the church is at risk. The loophole that gave way for that dastardly act embarrassed the church. However, the church must also be conversant that the time for every Dick, Tom and Harry has passed. We must ensure that our security is beefed up to forestall future occurrence.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is currently addressing the issue and it is requesting the Federal Government to be up to the task because it is the work of the Federal Government to protect the lives of its citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation. The Federal Government is to blame for the attack if it comes, because they are not doing their work appropriately. The Federal Government should answer some questions in that regard.
Why are you celebrating this anniversary?
Ibadan Baptist Conference was established in September 2012. We are celebrating the fifth anniversary to mark the growth of the conference which started with 15 associations and has grown to 26. Secondly, we are celebrating the power of God in our midst – the growth of churches, members and even pastors. In spite of the economic crunch, we are still celebrating his faithfulness, because we are growing as a conference. In our mission endeavour, we are growing: we have four mission fields namely; Onisaago, Arulogun, Idifa and Idiyan. We have many reasons to celebrate, and that is why Generals of the Kingdom, is our theme for this year. So, between August 26 and 30, it will be days of thanksgiving as a body of Christ for what He has done in our midst.