..and our Bishop Okegbile clocks 60! A Nigerian Methodist Trailblazer in the UK

..and our Bishop Okegbile clocks 60!
A Nigerian Methodist Trailblazer in the UK

Born on January 6, 1964, in Idanre, Ondo State, and raised in the vibrant city of Osu in Atakunmosa West Local Government area, Osun State, Nigeria, the Rt Reverend, Dr. Ayodeji Okegbile, Bishop of the Nigerian Methodist Diocese of UK and Ireland emerged from modest beginnings to become a guiding force in the spiritual landscape of the United Kingdom.

His formative years were characterized by a profound connection to the Methodist Church, fostering a deep sense of faith that laid the groundwork for his future vocation. Demonstrating an unwavering commitment to service and an early passion for spreading the Gospel, Bishop Okegbile’s journey was marked by a foreshadowing of the remarkable path that awaited him.

Embarking on a comprehensive educational journey, Bishop Okegbile attended various schools, including Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Primary School, ADC Primary School, and Baptist Primary School, all in Ikire. His teaching career commenced in 1981 after graduating from the Government Teachers’ College, Ilesa. Over the years, he served in various schools, including CAC Grammar School, Akure, and St. Peter’s Unity Secondary School, Akure.

His academic pursuits led him to earn a BA (Ed) in Fine Art from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, and later, Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Visual Art from the University of Ibadan. Additionally, he pursued studies in Journalism at the School of Journalism, Ogba Ikeja.

In the realm of theology and pastoral studies, Bishop Okegbile underwent preliminary ministerial training at the Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu. His educational journey continued with an MA in “Leadership, Renewal, and Mission” from the University of Manchester (Cliff College). He subsequently completed a Ph.D. (Missiology, Ecumenical and Wesleyan Studies) on “Missional Unity in the Nigerian Context”. He recently obtained a Pg Cert in Health Care Chaplaincy from London South Bank University in September 2023.

Bishop Okegbile’s diverse vocational experiences encompassed serving in various congregations, engaging in cross-cultural ministries, and collaborating with diverse communities. These experiences played a pivotal role in shaping his leadership style and approach to ministry.

As a testament to his commitment to theological education, he is a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society, the British Association of Mission Studies in the UK, and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.

His journey in the clergy has been marked by an unwavering commitment to spiritual renewal and evangelism. He began to make waves in Methodist Church Nigeria as a young priest through his vibrant involvement with transformational programmes and projects such as ‘Coming Alive,’ ‘Methodist Praying Partners’ and the then vibrant Methodist Evangelical Movement (MEM)which started the Orimerunmu Methodist Village Project. He was also in charge of the then Methodist News and started the ‘Joy Publications’. He was appointed to the Lagos State Chapel, Alausa, Ikeja as the first Chaplainof the then newly built church from where he moved to Lagos State Government House, Marina as State House Chaplain.

Rising through the ranks, he made history with his appointment as the Methodist Bishop of the UK and Ireland. In this esteemed role, He focused on revitalizing the Nigerian community in Diaspora and spearheading initiatives to inspire spiritual renewal. A notable highlight was his transformative impact in Cardiff, UK, leading by example and inspiring other priests and Christian faithful’s in active evangelism and engagement in community outreach.

Bishop Okegbile’s passion for revival goes beyond rhetoric; he leads by example, fostering genuine spiritual growth within the Methodist community. His strategic vision and innovative programs set new standards for the Methodist Church in the UK, emphasizing inclusivity, outreach, and dynamic worship experiences, especially for the Nigerian community.

Behind Bishop Okegbile’s public persona lies a supportive and loving family. Married for almost 30 years to Abimbola Okegbile, the couple has been a symbol of steadfast companionship, facing the challenges that come with spiritual leadership together. They have raised four children, instilling in them the same values of faith, service, and compassion.

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A noteworthy testament to his resilience was seen in the challenging time when his second son was flown to the UK for treatment of a brain tumour. Despite the difficulties, he withstood the challenges and pressures, continuing his ministry as a true soldier of Christ Jesus. After completing his term in Alausa, Lagos Government House Chapel, he was sent to Britain as a missionary.

In 2022, atthe Conference of the Methodist Church Nigeria, the diocese of The Nigerian Methodist Church, UK & Ireland was created, and Bishop Okegbile was elevated to become the first Bishop of the SEE, where he continues to carry his cross. His life serves as a testimony to the grace of God, empowering individuals to be a force and instrument of continuous change and revival. Bishop Okegbile’s elevation is not a ministerial destination of redundancy but the beginning of a mission of spreading the message of Scriptural Holiness in the UK and Ireland.

He hit the ground running with the newly created UK and Ireland Diocese; mobilising a strong and capable volunteer force of grounded Christian professionals, articulating a long term visionfor the Diocese andinstituting radical and innovative initiatives which include:a hybrid/borderless pastoral care model(which incorporates physical meetings and church services with cloud technology based meetings and programmes), creation of an assistance/settlement programme for new arrivals into the UK and Ireland diaspora community,engendering national coverage in the UK with the 100 fellowships initiative and targeted programmes for various age and life stage groups.

Against all odds and at his personal detriment and persecution in the UK, he has upheld the integrity of the undiluted word of God and the sanctity of sound spiritual doctrine.

Apart from his significant contributions to the Methodist Church, Bishop Okegbile is recognized for his efforts in fostering interfaith dialogue, community development, and evangelism. His involvement in open-air preaching initiatives and collaboration with other religious leaders underscores his commitment to building bridges and promoting understanding in the wider society.

For those familiar with his Facebook page, Bishop Okegbile is easily identified by his conspicuous high visibility jacket with the inscription “Jesus Saves.” Armed with his trusty megaphone, he fearlessly preaches the pure gospel of Jesus Christ in the metropolis of London.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Bishop Okegbile is a prolific author, contributing to theological discourse with several books and articles. His writings, such as “The Fear of John Wesley” and “Wesley’s Kingdom Principles for Methodist Repositioning,” reflect his intellectual rigor and commitment to theological exploration.

At 60, this trail blazer is worthy of celebrationand emulation as a model Christian, a model priest, a model Christian leader and a model community leader; selflessly serving members of the diaspora community in the UK and Ireland whilst continuing to deliver on his life’s mission to serve God and deliver a blemish free legacy and inspiration for the next generation of methodist priests and leaders across the globe.Bishop Okegbile’sepiscopal/ministry journey from Nigeria to the UK is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the Methodist Church in both the UK and Nigeria.

His transformative leadership has left an indelible mark on the religious landscape, making him a beacon of hope and inspiration for those seeking a deeper connection with their faith in Christ. His life exemplifies spiritual piety and discipline, clearly guided by the grace of God.

By Ambassador Barr. wale Ojo-Lanre, Omo Iya Oniru

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