Come Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Opening ceremony of the 12th national biennial confer-ence of the umbrella body of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, will take place at the Uyo Sports Stadium, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
It will be hosted by one of the founding fathers of the Fellowship and apparently one of the biggest financiers, Rev. (Dr.) Uma Ukpai of Uma Ukpai Evangelistic Ministries. Despite his hefty contributions to the body, Evang. Ukpai has thus far refused to assume its leadership.
It will be recalled that the seed that blossomed to today's oak tree was sown in 1985 following the Greater Lagos Cru-sade of Dr. Uma Ukpai and Reinhard Bonnke's Christ for All Nations' Crusade of the same year, with Rev. James Abayomi Boyejo as the founding president of the Pentecostal Fellow-ship of Nigeria, PFN.
Boyejo's term ended in 1992 and he was follow-ed by Pastor Enoch Adeboye who in turn handed the batton of leadership to late Arch-bishop Benson Idahosa in 1995. Bishop Mike Okonkwo emerged president in 1998 and hand-ed over to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in 2005 who will now hand over to another leader at the Uyo biennial conference.
The objective of the Fellowship include: To uphold one another in prayer, co-ordinate prayer meetings in the country as Pentecostal networks; To support and encourage one another in the task of missions and evangelism; To promote Christian fellowship and co-operation among Pentecostals throughout the country; To provide means of consultation and co-operation among the members and related agencies; To share mutual concerns and insights relating to any crucial spiritual and temporal issues of the Church; and to administer relief in times of crises.
This enables the PFN to participate in the worldwide humanitarian services, giving inform-ation and co-operation when necessary among others.
The 2013 biennial conference, the 12th in the 27-year history of the charismatic body of Christians is very crucial because at the end of deliberations on Friday, February 8, a new pre-sident to replace the CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor must emerge to pilot the affairs of the Fellowship to the next level.
Pastor Oritsejafor had indicated his willingness to relinquish the post of PFN president as soon as he emerged president of CAN, the apex body of all Christians in the country in July 2010, as a result of increased activities and commit-ments, but he was pre-vailed upon to complete his tenure to promote unity within the body.
There have been speculations that the current National Secretary, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, National Vice President, South West, Bishop Francis Wale Oke and his counterpart for South South, Rev. Felix Omo-bude are among those who have indicated in-terest in the job.
Election into the office which may shock many watchers of the Fellowship is expected to cli-max this year's biennial confer-ence.
Mindful of current security challenges in the country and the possible consequencies of the crises in Mali and Algeria, the Fellowship may opt for a vibrant replacement in the mould of the outgoing President Oritsejafor, which is why some people want the Fellow-ship opt for someone who can confront the Boko Haram menace headlong and be able to complete the national secretariat project start-ed by Oritsejafor.
The outgoing administration had secured a land in Ajao Estate and had began construction work on a secretariat for the 27-year old Fellow-ship and will require somebody to run with the vision.
The 12th biennial conference which will be the third to be held outside Lagos, has as its theme; "A People With A Man-date," is expected to be addressed by several guest speakers includ-ing Pastor Enoch Adebo-ye, Bishop Mike Okon-kwo, Bishop David Oyedepo, Rev. Uma Ukpai, Archbishop Margret Benson-Idahosa among others.
The opening ceremony is expected to attract several dignitaries from different walks of life including the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Godswill Akpa-bio among others as the conference draws dele-gates from all parts of the federation.