A cleric and lead pastor of The Evening Church, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Runcie Mike, is dead.
He died on Saturday in Uyo, according to a statement from his the church.
Mr Mike, before his passing, made a Facebook post about a burial ceremony of his late female church member, Joy Ekpenyong, which he was going to officiate on Thursday.
“I don’t even know how to process the emotions since I heard of your demise after the surgery we spoke about, then to be told that I was going to be the one officiating the funeral is too hard for me to bear as this will be the first time I will be officiating a funeral in my entire life. I hope it goes smooth cuz this will be too triggering,” he had said in the post.
He made the Facebook post on Wednesday, officiated the burial ceremony on Thursday, and passed away on Saturday morning.
Many people have been left wondering what Mr Mike meant by “too triggering”.
In a short video clip of the burial ceremony, the cleric is seen weeping profusely near the woman’s coffin.
The cause of Mr Mike’s death remains uncertain for now but a statement from his church, posted on Facebook, said he died after a “very brief sickness.”
“He was at the time of his rest, a father, both spiritual and physical, a husband, a mentor and a visionary leader,” the Evening Church said of the late pastor, while urging the public to put the church and the late pastor’s family in prayers.
Charismatic, endeared to people
The late cleric, said to be in his early 40s, was charismatic and endeared himself to young people. His church services, done only in the evening, were conducted under a relaxed atmosphere.
A tech enthusiast and movie director, Thomas Etuk, told PREMIUM TIMES that The Evening Church “is not a church per say but a platform for raising young minds.”
Mr Etuk, who had an appointment with the late cleric on Sunday (today) to plan for a programme he (deceased) wanted to fix for entrepreneurs, said Mr Mike was focused on equipping young people with skills.
“He (Mike) empowers young people interested in technology, capacity building, businesses, and leadership. He brings professionals to talk to them and supports those that needed money to do business. That is the kind of church he runs, not the regular church.”
The Evening Church, according to Mr Etuk, started around 2014 at a luxury hotel in Uyo before it relocated to an entertainment and shopping complex, Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, in the city.
Precious Eldad, a musician and a teacher, said he was attracted to the kind of messages the late pastor used to preach. “His message of grace frees people from guilt and condemnation and helps them appreciate the love of God. His passion for souls and his unconventional approach towards it.”
Mr Mike’s death has triggered an outpouring of tributes from friends, church members and well-wishers.
Michael Bush, a radio talk show host and producer of Bush House Nigeria, sent his condolences to The Evening Church via Facebook.
Mr Bush, who sat close to the late pastor at the burial he officiated on Friday, described his passing as an “eye-opener and a wake-up call.”
“H was quite businesslike, smart, professional, and respectful and knew exactly what he was doing although this was the first burial the church was handling.
“However, he looked really different in my eyes, so different that I spent quite sometime in the aftermath wondering about him. In fact, when I raised the concern with someone who ought to know, I was told it must be the grief,” Mr Bush said, calling on congregants to always rally round their pastor no matter what the “devil throws at them.”
In his condolence, a pastor, Idy James, posted a picture of the deceased via his Facebook page with a text of a popular Christian Hymn, “Only remembered by what they have done.”
One of the stanzas reads, “Fading away like the stars in the morning, losing their light in glorious sun. Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling, only remembered by what we have done.”
A Facebook user, Ubong David, reposted a Facebook post the late cleric made in September 2022 on how pastors were abandoning the Christian ministry for other things.
“We are losing a lot of pastors lately to sickness and even death due to the level of stress that ministry exposes you to and partly also the desire by a few/some to fit into the super human mold that makes them seem infallible or insusceptible to human proclivities,” the late pastor had said.
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