by ‘Demola Adesina
Experience has shown that there are two kinds of affluent churches in Lagos. There are the younger, upwardly mobile churches and there are the churches with the old money aura. Archbishop Vining Memorial Anglican Church Cathedral clearly belongs to the latter. Situated on Oba Akinjobi way in the urbane Ikeja GRA, this Church has an imposing edifice right opposite the Police College.
Arriving promptly for the 10am Mattins, I chose a comfortable seat in the near-empty auditorium. As the service started, with the Processional Hymn, I immediately felt that superior spirit of Anglican music which I’ve heard so much about. The service was fast-paced, with readings from the Bible, the order of service, the creed and prayers. I had to keep guessing what duty each of the eight clerics was going to perform during the service. The pre-sermon hymn was sung, and as if on cue, people trooped in and filled the church auditorium.
The sermon was preached by the Dean of the Cathedral, The Venerable James Odedeji. In line with the theme of the day’s service, he talked about the rewards of faith. After a biblical summary on the topic of faith, he went on to highlight various rewards of faith, both in this world and in heaven. He ended his sermon with the biblical prayer for an increase in faith.
At the end of the sermon, the day’s offering was taken. Following it was a barrage of thanksgiving, where different families and societies danced to the altar to drop their thanksgiving offering. I noticed that more time was spent on this thanksgiving than on all the other parts of the service combined – group after group kept coming up for thanksgiving. The service ended with the Diocesan Anthem. I reckon this is probably a reminder that the Church is the Cathedral for the diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion).
Moving outside after the service, I thought to myself how strange it felt that there were only a handful of young people at this service. I wondered what would become of this Church when the older generation passes away. As if on cue, I overheard one man telling another how he’s been unable to bring his children to church in years; how they keep hopping from one cool Pentecostal church to another.
As I stood under the patio, his thought, our thought was washed away by the resonance of the early afternoon rain, unresolved.