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Listening: Nigerian building project moves forward with help from Ohio diocese

By Martha Wright
3/7/2006

R. Stephen Gracey
Work continues on the Sunday School building in Aluu, Nigeria.   (R. Stephen Gracey)

 
[Diocese of Ohio]  When the Rev. Collins Asonye returned to Nigeria last December to complete a building project he and Bishop Hollingsworth of Ohio had planned, he found a much more complex problem than he had anticipated.

Based on the July 2005 trip with Bishop Hollingsworth to Aluu, Nigeria, Asonye, Province V's coordinator for ministry in higher  education, planned to spend two weeks finishing the roof on a foundation that the people had been unable to complete. Instead, he was there for 29 days buying supplies, hiring day  laborers, overseeing the making of cinderblock, digging pilings by hand, and building a new, larger exterior structure with a veranda and outside market stalls. The structure he left as an astonishing testament to  perseverance, hard work, cultural savvy, and faith. While he was there the temporary Sunday school structure collapsed, which Asonye saw as a sign from God that he was meant to be there.

The work on the Sunday School building in Aluu stemmed from a common vision of Asonye and Hollingsworth. With tensions growing in the Anglican Communion, Hollingsworth wanted to take action towards reconciliation. "Not so much an action to help us get along with one another, but to help us become part of a greater whole," said Hollingsworth. Asonye told him that much of the problem in Nigeria was caused because the people didn't know us. "They had heard about us, but they had no first-hand knowledge. They wanted to worship with us, and to talk with us one-on-one," he said. Hollingsworth saw the project as not only a way to bridge misunderstandings, but also a means to move from the parochial to the global. "God gives us communion with one another," he said. "It is our job to live into it."

Photographs accompanying this article can be found online at: http://www.dohio.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=255&Itemid=153