The Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Awelewa Adebiyi Rtd (1943-2022). The pioneer Bishop of Lagos West Anglican Communion (1999-2013) is Dead.
Aged 79 Bishop Adebiyi passed on to glory in Lagos on Thursday night 10 February 2022 after years of battling with old age-related disease
Late Bishop Bishop Adebiyi was appointed Bishop of Lagos West in 1999 having been Bishop of Owo from 1993 to 1999.
Adebiyi was born on 27 April 1943 at Osi-Ekiti, where he went to school until 1960. He graduated from Emmanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, in 1970, and obtained B.A. (1975), M.A. (1981) and PhD (1987) from the then University of Ife, Osun State.
He was a lecturer at Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos between 1987 and 1990.
Adebiyi became Archdeacon in 1990 and was consecrated Bishop of Owo on 26 May 1993, before being translated to Bishop of Lagos West on 20 November 1999. He retired in 2013 having reached 70 and was succeeded by Bishop James Odedeji.
“The story of The Rt. Rev. Peter Awelewa Adebiyi is one long script of trials, temptations, and triumphs. Starting from his birth till now, Adebiyi cuts the picture of the quintessential apostle of God who had to do battle at every stage in life.
He was in fact not given a chance to live. “I could faint up to seven times in a day when I was barely six months old and I did not enjoy the luxury of breast milk. To one of my brothers, I looked like a small rat that should be thrown away. To the glory of God, who alone knew my future, He restored me to life” he reflected in a piece published in The AVMCC Christian Outlook Dec/June 2013 edition.
Today, Adebiyi is not only healthy, he stands strong and ready to go many more years serving God. Born on April 27, 1943, to Chief Samuel Ogunmola and Madam Alice Fatinuwe Adebiyi, both of blessed memory, at Osi-Ekiti, Ekiti State young Adebiyi did not have the luxury of a sumptuous childhood. Indeed, he did not have the privilege of putting on a pair of shoes until he was 18.
But the unpleasant circumstances of his birth and childhood did not in any way affect his drive to be outstanding in life. His elder brother, Samuel recounted that Awelewa took his destiny in his hands one sunny afternoon as he refused to continue going to do farm work, a profession common to most indigenes of Osi Ekiti.
He rather chose to go to school. So when he was six he found his way to Saint Paul’s Nursery and Primary School Osi Ekiti, got registered in the school, and from there started to carve a niche for himself.
His educational pursuit saw him through many schools and colleges. He attended a secondary modern school, All Saints Teachers College, and then sat for the General Certificate of Education also known as GCE. He turned out to be the only one to pass the GCE exams in the entire Aramoko town in Ekiti in 1967. That feat saw him through higher schools starting from Emmanuel College of Theology where he first cut his teeth in theological training.
He obtained a diploma in Theology from the University of London and was adjudged the best in his set; a feat which earned him the college prize in New Testament Greek. He secured his first and second degrees in Religious studies in 1975 and 1981 respectively at the prestigious University of Ife now known as Obafemi Awolowo University. He did not look back until he bagged a PhD in 1987 in Religious Studies in the same university; specializing in Church History.
But what attracted him to the priesthood? Richard Adefemi Ojo, one of his close friends said he had seen a vision that he was going to do God’s work. Then, Ojo used to call him a young pastor. But Adebiyi insists in several fora that he was initially reluctant to do the work of a priest. He had gone to an interview panel for admission into the priesthood at the instance of Late Vev. J.S.Oloniyo, the vicar of his church at that time.
He scaled the first hurdle reluctantly. But at the second stage of the interview when he was asked how he knew he had been called, he said, “By Revd Oloniyo” The interviewers laughed. And he was happy thanking God that at last he would not be admitted to priesthood and that would make him pursue his dream to be an academic. But that was not to be. He was selected as one of the postulants to Immanuel College in 1967. That was the beginning for Adebiyi. He also ran his academic programmes side by side with his priesthood.
He was ordained a deacon in1970 and then a priest in 1971. He started his career as a priest at the Holy Trinity Church of the Anglican Communion, Ilawe Ekiti. From that humble beginning, he went to several other parishes of the Anglican Church in and around Ekiti. He was preferred a canon in 1983 and was the vicar of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church, Ikeja between 1987 and May 1993. He was collated as an archdeacon in 1990 and consecrated Bishop of Owo Diocese on May 26, 1993.
Apart from running a career in the priesthood, Adebiyi carved a niche for himself as a successful teacher and university lecturer. Started as a primary school teacher, a housemaster, chaplain and then became a Vice Principal at one point at Babatope Memorial High School, Ikoro, Ekiti.
He served as a member of the board of governors of Oganganmodu Grammar School, Ido Ekiti between 1976 and 1980. He was the examining chaplain, Ekiti Anglican Diocese between 1980 and 1987, and lecturer both at the University of Ado Ekiti and Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos between 1983 and 1990. He was translated to the Diocese of Lagos West as the pioneer bishop on the 20th of November 1999. His successor at Owo said it is difficult to match his achievements in Owo.
In Owo, Adebiyi’s footprints have remained indelible. His love for education saw him establish a secondary school during his tenure as Bishop of the diocese. He did not stop at that, it is great to note that he was the brain behind the Palm kernel plantation in the Owo diocese which has been a source of blessing to the diocese. The diocese still generates income from the plantation. His wife, Caroline has also been playing complementary roles. She was instrumental in the establishment of a vocational training centre that is a viable learning centre for those who want to pick up creative skills.
Adebiyi is reputed to have constructed a multipurpose shopping complex for the empowerment of women in the diocese. His tenure in Owo saw the emergence of six new churches in addition to the existing ones and the establishment of an investment fund for the diocese. It is heartwarming to note that his passion for evangelism is phenomenal. The grace of God upon his life enabled him to see the diocese to a great height before his eventual translation to Diocese of Lagos West.
His impact in the diocese of Lagos West in the last 14 years is no doubt monumental. God used him to build the diocese from scratch to becoming the leading diocese in the church of Nigeria in terms of the number of parishes, asset base, and global impact. The number of churches rose to 300 from about 100 that he inherited. It is on record that the asset base of the church rose fromN500,000 when he assumed office to billions.
His concern for the health need of people saw to the establishment of an outstanding hospital. His concern for the priests working under him also saw to the establishment of a multipurpose thrift and credit society in the diocese.
On the political front, he helped to galvanise the diocese to be politically conscious with the introduction of political debate during elections. The highpoint of his achievements was perhaps the creation of two more dioceses from Lagos West.
Blessed with brilliant and wonderful children, Adebiyi’s commitment to family life is indeed quite unparallel. Some of his children though professionals in various fields have also taken to the priesthood. His human relations have also been described by parishioners as unprecedented. He knows virtually all the over 300 priests working with him on a first-name basis and relates with them as father and sons.
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