Series of activities lined up to mark the 16 years anniversary of the Aguata Diocese, Anglican Communion, will reach its crescendo on Saturday, September 4, 2021, with the enrolment of some Anglican faithful into the Knighthood order of Saint Christopher and Lady of Bethany. The event, which will take place at the Cathedral Church of Saint John, Ekwulobia, will be performed by the Anglican Bishop of Aguata Diocese, the Right Reverend Samuel Chukwudi Ezeofor (JP), Ph.D. The knighthood investiture is the first to be performed by Bishop Ezeofor, who was translated to Aguata Diocese on April 3, 2018.
Knights are men from noble and well known families; those who distinguished themselves in the State, Church or society at large. In England, when Queen Elizabeth confers knighthood, it is in recognition of deeds done in service of the crown, common wealth or the entire world.
Knighthood began as a secular institution in ancient Rome. From there, it spread to other parts of Europe by the tenth century. However, the earliest orders of knights were formed after the recovery of Jerusalem. These knights had their vows, orders and functions, both spiritual and temporal, including military.
The Anglican Church, which constituted part of the Holy Catholic Church, was part of the one church founded by Christ. Therefore, knighthood among other institutions is part of its common heritage before the church was divided. It was in realization of the existence of knighthood as a means of motivating devoted Christians that the Anglican Church in Nigeria, in recent time, revived from the ecclesiastical archives, the knighthood institution.
The patrons of the orders into which Anglicans have been invested are: Saint Christopher, Saint Augustine, Saint Paul, and Knights of the Good Shepherd. The ladies are also ladies of Saint Mary and Ladies of Bethany. A knight is simply not one who holds honorific title “Sir” as a reward for his or her past services but rather one who has distinguished him or herself in the service to the church and society. Those to be invested with this honour must be communicating communicants, husbands of one wife, balanced in character and conduct, not a member of a secret society, not given to wine but given to hospitality.
What, in essence are the functions of knights in the church, one may ask? A knight is a member of the laity whom the Bishop deems fit to be bestowed an honour upon. He is seen as a defender of the faith and a soldier for the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are to carry on their warfare against the devil and all its ramifications with spiritual weapon.
Other roles of the Christian knight include the protection of rights of the diocese, planting of churches, sponsoring of crusades, seminars, revivals and conventions as well as giving financial support to churches, schools and hospitals. They donate towards the synod, women conferences and other church needs.
There is no doubt that today’s Christian knights are living up to the high ideals of the order. Their outings and activities are a sight to behold and their responsibilities are carried out to the letter.
On the other hand, some knights have gone beyond the bounds of their obligations to the church by belonging to secret societies, engaging in various vices, and engaging in immoral activities. However, the office of knighthood is not a status symbol or an exclusive preserve of the pride or the pompous.
So, as Aguata Diocese of the Anglican Communion celebrates her 16 years anniversary tomorrow, it behooves the novices to be made knight of the church to be above board like the Caesar’s wife by being alive to their duties as the soldiers of Christ, and defender of the church. Aguata Diocese, Lampada Christi!