Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Church Gate Fee: Pastors Condemn Oyakhilome

Christ Embassy Church Gate Fee: Pastors Condemn Chris Oyakhilome
Prominent pastors in the country have slammed Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and his Christ Embassy Church for imposing a N1,000 toll fee on worshippers who attended New Year’s Eve service at the Christ Embassy Headquarters in Lagos, South-West Nigeria.

News sources had reported in its 5 January 2011 edition how Christ Embassy pastors sold tickets valued at N1,000 each to worshippers who wanted to attend the crossover service in their church.
Indigent worshippers who could not afford the money were denied access and sent back by security men at the gate. The church explained that it collected gate fees from worshippers to control the huge crowd that always besieges Christ Embassy on New Year’s Eve service.
This development has outraged many Nigerians, including prominent pastors, at home and abroad.
The pastors who spoke with us yesterday described the imposition of toll fee by Christ Embassy as a sacrilege.
The Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Ola Makinde, described Oyakhilome’s action as anathema and abuse of Christianity.
“It is a sacrilege and commercialisation of religion. It is an abuse of Christianity,” he lamented.
Founder, Soul Winning Chapel, Rev. Moses Illoh, said that such an act “is sacrilegious,” adding that the gospel of Christ is supposed to be free and not to be paid for.
“There is no excuse for this. The church of God is for everybody, both for the poor and the rich. The church where they collect money before you can go in to worship is not a church.”
According to Primate Elijah Ayodele of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, such pastors who collect money from worshippers should be stoned to death or be crucified.
“Is this possible? Such church should be destroyed and such pastors should be stoned to death. Pay N1,000 to enter a church? Is the church in heaven? It is never done.
“If it is possible, let the government intervene. These pastors are for Satan and such pastors should be crucified. It is embarrassing,” he lamented.
Also reacting to the incident, General Evangelist of Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide, Prophet Samuel Kayode Abiara, said collection of money as gate fee for church service is unbiblical.
“Collecting money as gate fee before a church service is unbiblical because there is nowhere in the Bible where it was recorded that Jesus collected money from the multitude who listened to His sermon and benefited from His miracles.
“Salvation is free. You receive it free and you give it free,” he said.
Abiara added that he cannot judge Pastor Oyakhilome because he doesn’t understand the circumstances under which money was collected.
“It’s not impossible that they must have used the event to raise money,” he said.
To Rev. Oladapo Daramola, Media and Public Relations Officer, Methodist Church Nigeria, it is not right to collect money from worshippers before allowing them inside the church.
“This is not right because despite the number of people that came to worship at the feet of Jesus Christ, there was no barrier for them to come closer. Anything that will bar people from receiving the good news should not be allowed. It is not Christ-like,” he stated.
Also, Rev. Akintoye Braimoh, Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Christian Religious Matters, frowned at Oyakhilome’s act, saying it was very wrong.
“A place of worship is a place for all, even for a Muslim. PFN has already rejected Oyakhilome and he is not recognised by the body; he is on his own,” she added.
Dr. Sam Ogedengbe, Special Assistant to the Governor on Christian Religious Matters also stated that it was not right for any pastor to act that way.
“Why should you collect money before one can be allowed to enter a church? Is the place really a church? It is wrong to do that,” he said.
Thousands of readers, who reacted in various websites and blogs, including social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, also expressed shock and disappointment.
Source: PM News

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