Pastor William Kumuyi offered to resign as General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church following the controversy that trailed the wedding of his second son, John.
John Kumuyi and his wife, Love had engaged in acts, which negated the church’s tradition during their wedding held in Jamaica on June 15, 2013. Love, who is a daughter of the National Overseer of Deeper Life Bible Church, Jamaica, Pastor Augustine Odih, was dressed in a fitted stylish wedding gown with transparent short sleeves. She also wore makeup, jewelry and carried a bouquet of flowers. The couple cruised in a limousine and had a huge wedding cake.
The misdemeanor, which attracted widespread criticisms, had earned the newlyweds suspension from church activities despite showing remorse and tendering an apology to the church, blaming their misconduct on the fact that both of them had resided abroad for so long.
Sunday Sun gathered that the practice in the Deeper Christian Life Ministry is that if members’ children misbehave, both the children and their parents get punished on the grounds that it’s the parents’ failing in their responsibilities that made the children to err. Although the children involved in the Jamaican wedding infraction are adults, the leadership of the church regarded their action as a strong breach of its tradition, and immediately removed the bride’s father, from his position as National Overseer in Jamaica.
To demonstrate that there is no double standard in the church, it was further learnt that Pastor Kumuyi, at the meeting held by the leadership of the church on the matter, offered to resign as General Superintendent, but was prevailed upon not to.
According to the Sunday Sun source, the General Superintendent did not take kindly to the couple’s behaviour and, unlike Eli in the Bible who did not discipline his sons and incurred the wrath of God, Pastor Kumuyi had ensured that the offenders were sanctioned.
Meanwhile, the suspension of John and his wife from church activities has provoked mixed reactions from notable church leaders and other Nigerians.
Outspoken Pastor and the General Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare who was once a member of the church condemned the punishment meted out by the church, describing it as wicked. Said Pastor Bakare: “I personally did not see what they have done wrong. A man is entitled to his own authority in his own home.1st Peter Chapter 3. A wife should dress to please the husband and not the members of the church or public. It’s sheer wickedness to the couple, they should leave them to enjoy their honeymoon. They should not squeeze them to the modus operandi of a particular organization. I did not see anything wrong in the wedding. The bride was not naked or dressed inappropriately and the groom didn’t. Esther the queen was beautifully dressed in the bible to gain the king’s attention. They should not make mountain out of a molehill. I was in the Deeper Life Bible Church for five years and nobody compelled me to dress the way I dressed. My wife was with me in the church though we weren’t married then. She wears earrings and dresses nicely. All this talk about this couple should stop.”
In the same vein, a leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Osun State and General Overseer of the Royal Family Life Ministry, Pastor Sam Segun-Progress described the suspension of John Kumuyi and his wife from the church as a wrong decision taken by the leadership as capable of sending wrong signals about Christianity to the public, especially non-Christians.
He said: “dressing in any way does not affect the faith of any individual. Putting on earrings and making up do not by any way mean sinful acts. It’s not against Christian faith to dress the way the woman dressed. But it was actually against the doctrine of Deeper Life Bible Church, and since the church is not the Kingdom of God, the couple should be allowed to do that which pleases them and their belief.”
According to him, the Bible states clearly that, “there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,” adding, “for any church leader to condemn a member contravenes the standard of the scripture, which is the symbol of our Christian faith. The doctrine of any church has nothing to do with the kingdom of God. Every individual should be allowed to do that which pleases his faith,” he added.
The Osogbo-based Christian leader who noted that the church should be a rehabilitation centre, said “I would have appreciated it better if this affected couple were just disciplined within the church and were not suspended,” saying that the suspension of the two notable members of the church was capable of sending them out of the church and Christianity totally.”
According to him, “all I can deduce from what happened in the Deeper Life Bible Church is hypocrisy and this is not too good for our churches and the church leaders. I will urge the leadership of Deeper Life Bible Church to read the book of Exodus and see what God says about hypocrisy. The development in the church was a bad omen for the body of Christ and did not portray the church well before the public, especially the non-Christians.”
The Pentecostal preacher maintained that, “It is the wish of God that everybody comes to repentance. Jesus Christ during his eventful ministry on earth did not send anybody away. Even sinners ate with him and he did not condemn them. Why should we now suspend people and send them out of the church for an act which was merely against the doctrine of the church and which no one can prove was against the kingdom of God? Is any Church the kingdom of God? Or can anyone assume the position of God?”
He urged Christian leaders to live above hypocrisy and allow the spirit of God to direct them in their dealings with fellow human beings, even as he called for genuine acts, saying, “God cannot be mocked and God cannot be deceived by anyone.” He counseled Nigerian leaders to learn from the development in the church and serve with genuine hearts, saying the country needs genuine and purpose-driven leaders in a time like this.
Corroborating the views of Pastor Progress, a leader of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Osun State, Apostle Durodola Michael expressed worry about the development in the Deeper Life Bible Church and declared that the decision of the leadership of the church was not only harsh but contradicts Christian faith, which he said places premium on repentance.
He said “the leadership of the church should have forgiven the couple who after realizing their mistakes tendered an unreserved apology to them. Christianity teaches us forgiveness and one of the tenets of the Christian faith is forgiveness. The couple after apologizing to the leadership of the church needed not be punished again if the church will follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
According to him, “the only area where I noticed that the church leadership erred was their lack of forgiving spirit. It was reported that the couple apologized and that should have been the end if the church would go by the teaching of Christ. The action of the church was capable of sending the couple out of the church system.”
He noted that the doctrinal practice of the church might not stand the test of time considering developments in the world and the expansion in the church, especially its location in most western countries now.
“The church cannot continue with its practice. I don’t think the practice can last. Before now, it was a sin for members of the church to have televisions in their houses, but today they don’t only have them, but the General Superintendent of the church even ministers via the television to his members and others across the world. So, such practice can’t last.
For Mr Tony Okafor, Chairman, Law Students Forum, Anambra State, “the world has grown beyond a period when somebody will hold one to the traditions of one’s father. People should be allowed to exercise their freedom without any form of chains or handcuff. It’s natural that after parental tutelage, the child should be allowed to exercise his or her right upon growing up.
“The constitution of this country is very clear that everyone has freedom of religion; it is a fundamental right that cannot be derogated by anybody, including parents. So I think Kumuyi and his church should allow the young couple exercise this rights as enshrined under Section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution.
The lesson for the leadership of the church is that there is a limit within which you can put people in a cage and expect them to be quiet all the time.”
Apostle Lawrence Achudume of Victory Life Bible Church, Abeokuta said the development reveals that some things some churches are holding on to are no longer relevant. He said “I was once in the Deeper Life many years ago. I know some of them are no longer practicable in the 21st century. For the son of General Superintendent who was raised in Pastor Kumuyi’s house and the girl in question who is the daughter of another General Superintendent of the church in Jamaica, to come and negate the rules shows that something is wrong with the doctrines they are enforcing. The couple can’t claim to be ignorant of the doctrines of their father’s church. The couple can’t claim that they have not seen how those who have married before them in the church did. The lesson I want the leadership of the church to learn from this is that they should not go ahead preaching or forcing things their children or congregation can’t follow. The world is changing.”
“The suspension itself on a global society is an infringement on their fundamental human rights. The couple has apologized openly; why the suspension? Will the suspension rewind or cancel the wedding if the church had been silent on it? The couple deliberately wanted to do what they did, and they have done it. By their pedigree, they knew the rule and they deliberately broke the rule. It’s also a lesson to Nigerian parents. We should not be too rigid or harsh on our children; we should give them an element of freedom, because time is changing from the time we were born.”
Founder of the Odua People’s Congress, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun also asked that the couple be left alone. “People should allow the young couple to live their lives the way they want it. In a wedding ceremony, a couple is free to do whatever they want to do. It’s their day of joy. Their outfits should be what they want to wear and not what the public expects them to put on. Whether the wedding is flamboyant or not depends on the bride and the groom. In the first wedding of Christianity, there was eating and drinking, as a matter of fact, when the wine was exhausted, they requested for more to satisfy the guests.”
Mrs. Stella Awoh, a lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology said that judgment should be left to God. “Leave Judgment to God,” adding, however that the bride could have conformed to church rules.
“Kumuyi must have his reasons for allowing it. Remember that the church members now watch TV unlike before. Let us leave judgment to God. But that girl could have conformed to the tradition of the church. Head covering is a must in Deeper Life Church and as long as that is the tradition of the church and it’s biblical to cover the head, the girl could have covered her hair on her wedding day, although God answers prayers whether the head is covered or not,” Awoh said.
While many condemned the church’s action, others, on the other hand argued that the church was right in punishing the couple.
According to Rev. Joseph Olusegun Awusinu of Hosanna Mission of Christ Ministry International, Abeokuta, Ogun State, “where there is no law, there is no sin, once they have rules and regulations in the church, by way of their doctrine, the couple ought to have obeyed them. Once they have gone against it, they needed to be punished. So to me, the suspension is in order. It’s to serve as a deterrent to other members of the church who may want to go the way the couple had gone. My appeal is that the leadership of the church should not allow the suspension to last long. I agree that civilization may have eroded some of the doctrines of the church, but I think anyone or group who does not want to respect the doctrines can take their exit. But once you decide to stay in a church, you must respect their rules and regulations to the letter.”
To Mr. Biodun Ogunleye of the Anglican Church Communion, Abeokuta, what the leadership of the Deeper Life Church did was to tell the world that they practice what they preach. “To me, I think the son or daughter of a pastor or Imam should practice what his or her father or mother preaches. Once their doctrines negate what they did, they should be punished, at least to tell the world that being the son or daughter of an influential person does not matter. It’s a lesson to our children too that we must always respect the wishes of our parents and leaders.”
The General Superintendent, Voice of Freedom Ministry, Benin, Edo State, Abraham Chigbundu in his reaction said, “the truth of the matter is, if you accept to be part, you should follow the tradition of the place. What they did violates the tradition of the church, not the Bible.
“They should have known that their conduct would upset the church. The two have tried to make a statement that it’s not this outward appearance. Nobody condemned the limousine. There is likelihood more of this will occur. Moderation does not mean you’re a moron.
“For the suspension, the Church is right in keeping its tradition. In summary, (1) They should have obeyed the church rules. (2) The Church is right to have suspended them and (3) They are making a statement by saying change the rule. The leaders should look into it and see how they can correct it.”
In his reaction, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the action of John and his wife is regrettable, especially as both are children of top-ranking leaders of the church. He also commended the church for sanctioning the duo and said such caution would as well serve as indirect caution on the rest of the church. He also advised that people should not view the decision of the church as unnecessary vilification, adding that since both culprits are adults coming from the first families of the church, they have no excuse for failing to comply with the rules and tradition of their church. His words:
“The Deeper Life Church has a long reputation for simplicity – no earrings, no makeup, perming of hair or artificial hair and all that. The church has no room, whatsoever, for flamboyancy, either in dressing or any other thing about life. So, the couple’s action was a complete sell-out and very discouraging attitude. And I encourage the leadership of the church to take further action towards returning to the basics of the church’s tradition of simplicity, modesty and decency. It’s good they were cautioned because, I believe, the suspension is geared towards instilling discipline in the church. Deeper Life has long been known for modesty and decency. What John Kumuyi and his bride did was almost opposite of what Deeper Life preaches and the action has given the church a bad impression. So, whatever action the church has taken against the duo was simply a caution and a reminder that people should be very cautious about the way they dress and their general lifestyle.
“So, I think Pastor Kumuyi allowed the axe to fall on his son,because he realizes that leadership, at all levels, must be by example. People must be careful and endeavor not to fall into the temptation of handling church’s funds as personal affair. There should be overall discipline in the church because the church belongs to God, not man. Even the issue of makeup and other issues raised, are all against the teachings of Deeper Life that we all know. And that was why the couple had to apologize to the church,”
To the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),Oyo State, Pastor Ayo Olabisi, the Deeper Life Church deserves commendation for the action it took against the couple. Olabisi commended the Deeper Life Church committee for the suspension of the couple, saying “There should be discipline in the house of God. That is how it should be. Where there is discipline, you can’t just be behaving the way you like. I wholeheartedly support it.”
Also, a member of Deeper Life Church in Ibadan who craved anonymity said she doesn’t understand why John was suspended when his father who is the General Superintendent of the church was said to be at the wedding. “At least, he should have told them if they didn’t know that the mode of dressing of the wife is against Deeper Life doctrine.”
An elder in Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Samuel Odekunle also commended the church for the couple’s suspension adding that CAC doctrine is also against such reckless dressing, though according to him, some CAC members are also guilty of the same offence. “Sometimes, you will not be able to differentiate a Christian home from a non-Christian home by the way some people dress during their wedding.”
A leading motivational speaker and Senior Pastor, Destiny Life Christian Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Pastor Tony Banks in his reaction said the couple should have known that they cannot dress outside the standards set by the church as long as they remain members.
He also argued that it is high time the church jettisoned some of its doctrines, which actually hinder spiritual growth and progress.
“First of all, it is imperative to say that Dr. W.F. Kumuyi is a sincere, great and anointed servant of God. However, when it comes to doctrinal and life issues, no one is infallible.
“The bride and groom, who are members of Deeper Life should and are expected to obey the rules and codes of conduct of the ministry, since they are members of the church. They can dress up as they want from the day they withdraw their membership of the church.
“However, the leadership should, henceforth, learn to amend some of the church’s puritanical doctrines that are inimical to Christian growth and progress.”
Speaking in the same vein, Pastor Funwei, who attends the Deeper Life Church, said, “the church stands on holiness. We are not sentimental concerning issues like that, whoever is found wanting must be disciplined no matter the title he or she is holding. We so much believe that in heaven, title does not matter but the righteousness and how you obey God will definitely count on that day.
Pastor Leo Nwokoji, a member of Deeper Life Church said the action is not a condemnation, but a form of discipline, saying that there are standards and everyone upholds such standards. Anyone that defaulted should be disciplined, he said, adding that there is no immunity in God’s kingdom.
Emeka Ejim who is the Provincial Youth President, Anglican Youth Fellowship, Enugu Province, said “…the bride and groom are both living outside the country where culture, ways of dressing, etc are not given any attention. The modus in the Western world as regards to church tradition is that you should come to God the way you are… gays, lesbians, don’t cover your hair etc…so I blame them for not conforming to their church’s doctrine on outward appearance…if they had wanted the ‘oyibo way of wedding’ it’s simple, go to the church that suits your taste, more so that the leader of the Deeper Life, Pastor Kumuyi is directly involved. Also the counseling section that prepared them for the wedding has a question to answer. Were they rightly informed of the church’s norms? If yes, then it’s an act of disobedience to the church authority.