The 36th Annual Adult Harvest Thanksgiving Service of the 68 years old Celestial Church of Christ recently held at the Army Barracks Parish in Lagos with the perennial leadership crisis hanging over the large church.
Amidst the pomp and celebration, the church did not forget the perennial crisis rocking the 68 years old Church.
In his anniversary message, the Chairman, Celestial Church of Christ (Evangelism and Crusade Worldwide), Most Superior Senior Evangelist R.O Sangojimi, implored all the warring parties to close ranks and put an end to the recurring crisis.
“I am appealing to all concerned members of this great church to please close ranks and move together in unity and love so that we can get to our promise land in our life time.
“For years now, I have been sending touching messages but it seemed to be falling on deaf ears of those concerned. Think over it,” he admonished.
It would be recalled that the Church has been engulfed in a fierce leadership crisis between surviving sons of its founder, late Prophet Samuel Bilehou Oshoffa and some leaders, with each one laying claim to the supreme head of the church in their various domains. It got so bad that the crisis became a subject of litigation.
In one of those unusual muscle flexing, Olatosho Matthew Oshoffa emerged as the spiritual head of the CCC after an Ilaro High Court in Ogun State on March 26, 2015 terminated the tenure of Emmanuel Mobiyina Oshoffa, under whom Olatoso served as personal assistant.
Citing lack of progress in the 12 years of his elder brother’s reign, Olatosho said the court’s ruling “saddened his heart as the church was not developing in the last 30 years that my father had passed on and my brother also being removed as the pastor of CCC, worldwide.”
Explaining the revelation that confirmed his candidacy, Mobiyina said: “During one of my journeys to France, specifically on the 30th of May 2015, my father appeared to me and said ‘My son, Olatosho, the church has diverted from my calling and I want you to stand up, take up my abandoned work and lead my children.’
The 45-year-old disclosed that his appointment and declaration as the “Unification Leader” of CCC was done in Imeko, Ogun State on June 10, 2015 after series of consultations.
Hardly had he made that assertion than a member of the CCC Board of Trustees, Evang. Samson Banjo declared that the church did not have a “lawful and duly accredited” pastor.
Banjo, who is also a member of the Pastor-in-Council of the church, said this while briefing newsmen at its National Headquarters, Makoko, Yaba, Lagos.
He described as “fake, not genuine and an exercise in futility for any person or group of persons to recognise Evang. Tosho Oshoffa, as the pastor or leader of the church.
“Any assertion, representation, claims and pretention by any person or persons including the ill-advised and baseless self-declaration of Tosho to leadership of the church is fake,” he stressed.
This ongoing crisis at a point, moved former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to wade into the crisis in the hope of finding a lasting solution to the crisis.
According to OBJ, “the unity and unification of the Celestial Churches worldwide is very paramount to me because this is a big church that has a deep history; any division whatsoever will not serve its interest either now or in the future.
“I do not take sides in any dispute; the court has spoken and the verdict must be respected. I encourage you all to be strong, embark on this task with all fairness and do all within your powers to unite the church,” he concluded.
Toeing the line of reconciliation, Sangojimi also urged all members of the church to come together in the interest of the church. Quoting Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 verse 13, he enjoined all the warring partners to sheath their swords and embrace peace for the unification of the church.
Tracing the genesis of the crisis, Sangojimi believes that the failure of the founder of the church, late Prophet Samuel Bilehou Oshoffa to install a leader before his death was the catalyst of the problem.
“Celestial Church of Christ is a big church that you cannot compare with other churches; that’s why we are having these problems we are having. When you have such a large congregation, you are bound to have different characters.
“As a human being, Baba (Oshoffa) is supposed to have mentioned or signified someone, even if not as a pastor but, someone who will be on the throne until the spirit of God will appoint a Pastor. But Baba failed to do that, and left the throne without a successor which is the cause of these problems.”
Sangojimi also used the opportunity to speak on the significance of the 36th Adult Anniversary with the theme, His Excellency.
“Celestial Church of Christ came into existence in 1947 and it was in the last Sunday in that month of September that the national headquarters of this church had its first harvest before they changed to other days.
“We only emulated that; and with the theme of the harvest, you will understand it better. As is written in Psalm 22 vs. 8, God is the overall king, which is why you see us dancing and celebrating,” he concluded.