The new St. Paul’s Cathedral building in Diobu has been unveiled by the Niger delta North Diocese of the Anglican Communion in Rivers State.
The dedication of the 6,000 auditorium was conducted by the outgoing Primate of the Anglican Communion in Nigerian, Most Rev. Peter Akinola in Port Harcourt.
Plans to construct the new Cathedral was mooted in 1996 when the new Diocese of Niger Delta North was inaugurated.
In 1998 however it became clear that the Church had grown tremendously in population, hencethe Cathedral Standing Committee commenced efforts to build a better edifice for the congregation, consequently the Cathedral greater Chapter gave approval to he plan.
However the consent and approval to start the new Church auditorium was given by the Late bishop, Rt. Rev. Samuel Elenwo, Bishop of Niger delta Diocese, who did not live to see the commencement of the project.
With three major entrances, the new Church building has a large chancery, a double stage of gallery to contain its choir and a one storey upper chambers for members on top.
Chairman of the Cathedral Dedication Committee and former Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Special Projects, Sir Lasbry Amadi told newsmen shortly after the dedication of the building that aside initial donation given by Dr. Peter Odili, the project was concluded by the sole effort of Church members.
After the foundation laying ceremony was performed by the present Bishop of the Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Ignatius Kattey in 2006 the project commenced in earnest with sub-structural plan been completed and approved.
It is estimated that by the time the full compliments of furniture and electronic gadgets would have been fully installed, the project which initially was estimated to cost about N60 million in the year 2000 would have gulped about N1 billion.
Sir, Amadi explained further, “Our plans is to provide about 24 airconditioning outlets because we don’t need anything like fan. So we expect the government to come and assist us.”
The State Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Mechanical Engineers also hinted of plans to ensure good facility management on the Complex, noted that the major work now remaining is the construction of internal roads within the Cathedral premises.
The Cathedral as it exists today is an amalgamation of about four community Churches namely Oroworukwo Zone, Ogbum-na-bali West Zone, Ogbum-ba-bali East Zone and Rumukalagbor Zone.
The Rumukalagbor Church was affiliated with St. Banabas Church Elekahia after a joint meeting of the representatives of St. Luke’s Church Ogbum-nu-abali in 1919.
In 1921 after the centre officially opened for joint Church Worship following the merging of two Churches St. Paul’s Church Oroworkwo and St. Luke’s Church Ogbum-nu-abali, the new worship centre was named St. Paul’s Church and School, Diobu Port Harcourt.
Built by the colonial masters, the old Church foundation stone was laid on 14th December 1946 by the then Bishop of the Niger, the Rt. Rev. C.J. Patterson. In 1952, the Church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. E.T. Dimieari, Bishop of the Niger Delta Diocese.With the creation of Port Harcourt Archdeaconry out of what remained of the Niger Delta Diocese after the creation of Aba Diocese in 1972. St. Paul’s Church became the headquarters of the new Archdeaconry.
Expressing happiness over the completion of the project, Archdeacon of the newly dedicated Cathedral, Venerable Emmanuel Oko-Jaja described the exercise as a dream come true for parishioners and members of the diocese.
He commended members and priests who made the project a reality saying, “the main funding for this project has come from the Cathedralists. We appreciate all Cathedralists for their sacrifices in the provision of the needed materials in cash and kind for the building of this great edifice to the glory of God.”
Venerable Oko-Jaja also advised the members that, ‘they should set their heart in heaven which is the final destination of every Christian”.