Factional members move into sealed Assemblies of God Church branch
Tension was high at the Assemblies of God Church, Mount Street, Agbani-Road in Enugu State yesterday as a factional group of the Church gained entry into the church, which had been under lock and key in the past two months.
Two groups of the church branch have been locked in bitter quarrels following the national leadership crisis that has divided the church leading to them holding parallel church services simultaneously at the church compound.
The Guardian gathered that the church compound was divided into two where the rival groups erected canopies for the church services pending when the issues would be resolved. It was gathered that members of the two church groups had arrived the church compound yesterday when one of the groups led by Rev Nathan Udeze allegedly broke and entered the church hall to hold their service.
The development was said to have angered the faction led by Rev Amaechi Agbo, who moved in to stop their service. Some members have however, vowed that they would not fold their hands next Sunday and watch the other group hold services inside the church again, pending when the court gives judgment on the matter.
It could be recalled that members of the church had two months ago engaged in a free-for-all following the alleged transfer of a new pastor to the church. To avert a clash, the worshipers were said to have been told by the police to conduct their services outside the compound.
Speaking to journalists, Rev. Agbo, said trouble started on the July 19 “when one man in my church, who claims to be a lawyer, but is championing illegality and unlawfulness imported Rev. Nathan Udeze to come and overthrow me, so we resisted them that day. “The matter went to police and from there to court; the police advised us to lock up the church and we did.
We started worshiping outside; they went to court for us to open the church for them; they have not allowed the court to decide the case, they came on Monday last week and broke the entrance to our school; then today again, they came and broke the church entrance, contrary to the agreement we reached with the police that we will wait for the court to decide.”
Expressing anger with the way the police handled the matter, Rev. Agbo said “I called the DPO to inform him that these people have broken into the church, he told me that we should see him by 2 pm, that we should maintain peace, I don’t know what he means by that; these people broke into the school and today into the church and the police is watching them.”
On the claim that he has been transferred out of the church, he said. “I am still in charge of this place; I came here on 12th April 2013 and till date I remain the senior Pastor in charge of this Church branch.”
On the recent development, he said, “we are shocked over what happened today; if we had gone inside, there would have been bloodshed. I thank God that my members refused to confront them in the face of such provocation because something terrible would have happened here today. We are calling on law enforcement agencies to do the needful and avert trouble this place.”
However, in a reaction, Rev. Paul Nathan Udeze, the Pastor leading the factional group that took over the church said he remained the authentic priest in charge of the church. While denying forcing his way into the church he said, “I was posted here as a Senior Pastor on the 9th of July, 2015 and the former pastor, who has been transferred became wild; he refused to go on transfer.
He began to mobilise sympathizers, taking advantage of the national crisis. He added that “this one month time we have been outside; we took into prayer, asking God to open this door; this morning we came and we saw that the door was open and we came and held church service, we have taken possession over what God has given to us. “We shall protect our church, nobody gave them the order to lock our church; neither the police nor the court did; we shall secure our church, the women, the youths, the men, the children, all of them will secure this church.”
The leadership crisis that arose over the authentic General Superintendent of the church between Rev Paul Emeka and Rev Chidi Okoroafor is at the root of the present development in the church branch.