On Sunday, 22nd January 2023, the Methodist Church of Nigeria, through His Grace, Most Rev Dr. Joseph Nnonah, Archbishop of Kaduna, at the Christ Methodist Cathedral, Jos, North Central, Nigeria, ordained Right Reverend Nkechi Nwosu as the first female bishop of the Church in the country.
Worshippers in the Diocese of Jos congregated to witness the investiture which many considered notable. The ordination service, however, officially gives authority to the verdict of the Methodist Church of Nigeria’s biennial conference held in August 2022, where Right Reverend Nkechi Nwosu was elected as the Bishop of Jos.
While talking with the Press, the new bishop disclosed that God, through this momentous move in the Methodist church particularly, and in Christianity generally, is showing the world how timely it is to let women fulfill their purpose, pointing out that women and men need to walk hand in hand to realize God’s mandate.
“God knew that by creating only Adam, He will not be able to bring His heart’s desire, so He had to make the woman to complement him,” she said, also mentioning that God’s word will reach the world’s end if all Christians can hold hands together irrespective of gender, especially since God is spirit.
Nwosu, who is to serve as Bishop of Jos Diocese, went ahead to reiterate that clergymen and women in charge of denominations need to understand that God does work with the spirit rather than the physical flesh and that those who believe in Him and are led by the spirit of God are sons of God, irrespective of their bodily gender. She said to journalists that an understanding of this will help Christians conquer more for the Lord than what has been done already.
Regarding Nigeria’s 2023 general elections, Nwosu called on Nigerians to listen to God’s voice as He knows the best leader for the country, even as they bear in mind the usefulness of the conscience, and power which is in the Permanent Voters Card (PVC), that He has given them.
She said that agreeing with God means that Nigerians are to do their part during the elections, “so that God will use us and anybody He wants to put on that seat to restore Nigeria to a place of pride in Africa, and the world.”
Prelate Emeritus, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Uche, during whose tenure Nwosu was elected bishop, said that God made all humans equal, pointing out how Jesus Christ elevated the position of women by being born of one.
He also shared his belief in the gender question, alluding to the idea that both genders are men. “I believe there is no difference between a man and woman, after all, in Hebrew language, a man is a he-man and a woman is she-man, so we are all men”, he said.
He went on to clarify what is essentially taught in the Methodist Church, he said: “that people who have reached menopause, who are no longer childbearing can hold responsible office in the church because they have the capacity, they have the ability, they are meticulous, resourceful, and spiritual.”
“So, we decided that we should have in Methodist Bishop, a woman, and I know that some time ago, the President of the British Church was a woman from Ireland,” he stated.
Born Nkechi, in Yaba, Lagos, on February 18 1955 to the family of Mr. Golden and Mrs. Agness Okoronkwo, the historic bishop attended Ovim Girls’ Secondary School, Ovim, Abia State. She was the senior prefect while in school supposing that she is no stranger to leadership.
Nwosu studied Microbiology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1980. She went on to serve in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program in Plateau State between 1980 and 1981.
Afterward, she worked with the Plateau State Ministry of Health between 1981 and 1984 where she was deployed to the state’s school of Nursing as a lecturer.
From 1984 to 1985, she attended the University of Jos where she obtained an M.Sc. in Medical Entomology and Parasitology.
She has also gone through the School of Medical Laboratory Technology, Vom, Plateau state, Nigeria, where she got a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Medical Bacteriology.
Nwosu, who is an Associate Member of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria (AIMLT), and holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Jos, established Cedar Laboratories Limited, in Jos.
She was the Secretary, of Women Fellowship, Methodist Church Nigeria, 9 Ibrahim Dasuki Street, Jos from 1987 to 1989. She was the Secretary, of Women Fellowship Trinity Methodist Church, Nigeria, Gada Biu, Jos.
She went on to become the President, of Women Fellowship, Trinity Methodist Church Nigeria, Gada Biu, Jos from 1990 to 1993.
Between 1990 and 1994 she was the Local Church Steward, at Trinity Methodist Church, Gada Biu, Jos; she was Assistant Secretary, at the Jos Circuit Quarterly Meeting; a member of the Conference in 1991, and a Member of the Diocesan Synod from 1990 to 1992.
Dr. Nkechi Nwosu became an accredited Lay Preacher in 1990, and In 1994 she was admitted into the Methodist Theological Institute (MTI) Sagamu, to get trained as a tent-making Deaconess.
In 1996, she finished the given course of study for the deaconess training with distinction, and she obtained a Diploma in Theology.
Nwosu, mother of four – Chijioke, Ijeoma, Kelechi, and Onyinyechi – and wife to Sir Barrister Obiy J. Nwosu of the Methodist Church’s Knights of John Wesley, KJW, and the Lay President Emeritus, Diocese of Jos, was formally ordained a deaconess on 9th August 1998 at Okitipupa, Ondo State, Nigeria.
In the year 2000, she was admitted into the Methodist Theological Institute (MTI), Umuahia, Abia State, to be trained as a Reverend Minister. She passed out of MTI in 2002 and was commissioned as a Deacon.
Nwosu is not a first-time first-timer. She was the first female cathedral Administrator, and the first female Synod Secretary, in her time and area. She was ordained on the 28th of August 2005 at Hoarse Memorial Methodist Church, Yaba, Lagos as the first female Reverend Minister in Methodist Church Nigeria. She also grew to be the first female Presbyter.
In Nigeria, where the new bishop comes from, there are only four women who have been effectually consecrated into the ranks of a Bishop. Even though these women are principally from the Pentecostal fold of the Christiandom, it does not belittle the eminence of their piety, or dwarf the influence they wield within and outside the Christian faith.
The wife of late Archbishop Lanre Obembe, the founder of El Shaddai Bible Church, Bishop Oluremi Ayotunde Obembe, was ordained Bishop on June 16, 2009, two days after the burial of her late husband who was a past Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN. Her ordination as Bishop was done swiftly at the Dolphin Estate, Lagos, headquarters of the church so that a vacuum in leadership following her husband’s death will be promptly filled.
Bishop Bola Odeleke is the first Nigerian woman, and arguably the first African woman, to be ordained bishop. On the 28th of May 2023, she will have spent twenty-eight years as a bishop. She is the widow of the late Brigadier-General Lasun Odeleke. Whereas the late General was a Pastor and the founding President of Christ Message Ministry, Bishop Odeleke is the founder and general overseer of Power Pentecostal Church.
Also, bishop Peace Okonkwo who runs The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) together with her husband, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, is seen as the ‘Resident Pastor’ Even though they both founded the church. Bishop Peace is in charge of TREM Church Headquarters, while her husband is referred to as the presiding Bishop. She was anointed Bishop on the 22nd of April 22, 2006.
Archbishop Margaret Idahosa, the widow of the revered late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, did not fall short. A woman of many firsts, Archbishop Margaret is not only the Archbishop of the Church of God Mission International with headquarters located in Benin, but she is also the first African female Archbishop and the first Chancellor of the Benson Idahosa University, a place she still holds till today. She was first ordained Bishop in 1998, shortly after her husband passed on.
Nwosu’s consecration as bishop lends a voice to the unorthodox practice of inducting women into top clergy positions across Africa, a development that has seen various women rise to peak positions of leadership in churches on African soil.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa consecrated its first woman bishop in Africa, Ellinah Wamukoya, in the kingdom of Swaziland, on the 18th of July 2012, and ordained and installed on the 10th of November 2012. She passed away from COVID, then, Right Reverend Margaret Vertue was elected on the 12th of October 2012, Bishop of False Bay, South Africa. She was consecrated on the 19th of January 2013.
Rev. Canon Vincentia Kgabe was also bishop of Lesotho, making her the third woman diocesan bishop in Africa and the sixth woman bishop in Africa.
With the Enthronement Act administered on the bishop as directed by the conference, and in consequence of the will and consent of the Diocese of Jos; the new bishop thereafter officially commenced the spiritual activities as the Bishop of Jos Diocese which she sees as an honor in the dissemination of the gospel.
The investiture of Nwosu as the first female bishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria is no doubt a clarion call on Christendom that the propagation of the gospel is an assignment that cuts across gender issues.
Bishop Joaquina F. Nhanala became the first woman elected bishop by the Africa Central Conference of The United Methodist Church and she prayed that “more women are elected to episcopacy.”
The Methodist Church is a member of the Christian Protestant denomination originating in the 18th-century evangelistic movement of Charles and John Wesley and George Whitefield.