It has been disclosed by some worshipers that they paid N1,000 gate fee each at the entrance to the Christ Embassy Church in Lagos to attend the New Year’s Eve service presided over by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome.
The crossover service was held December 31. Those who could not afford to buy a gate pass worth N1,000 were turned back, P.M. News reports.
The practice was first introduced in the church on the last day of 2010 and caused uproar among people who characterized it as offensive in relation to the religion.
At that time the church explained that the move was made to control the crowd and discourage those coming for service only once a year prevening “real worshippers” from occupying seats.
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The explanation did not actually console the congregation. After the information about the N1,000 fee transpired last week, it was counted that with a sitting capacity of about 20,000 seats, Christ Embassy might have made at least N20 million only from selling the passes.
People complain that there is more emphasis on money than on spiritual issues in Christ Embassy.
Social media exploded with outraged comments.
Facebook user Femi Olulowo said:
"Gate fee collection appears good for crowd control in a theatre or secular concert, but not sound enough in the house of God where Christ the head of the church bids everyone to come, even when they only respond once in a year.
"Even if the church prefers his already saved members to partake in a particular service, gate pass should have been given to them at no cost and they will have the privilege of going in first.
"The crowd control rationale for gate fee collection in church in my opinion is world based."
One Onyeka Daisy Okochi commenting on the church decision referred to Bible saying that according to the Testament salvation is free.
"Did God come down through him (the pastor) that day? I have watched the man preach severally and I don’t know the magic in his sermon and anointing that keeps making people fall for his tricks and gimmicks.
"He quotes one Bible reference and shouts as if he just revealed what no man had ever read or seen in that passage before and then takes a run front and back and they all starts shouting. Just disgusting most times."
Eyitope Akeju was just shocked with the development.
"Somebody should please tell me this is not true. If it is true it means corruption is now everywhere."
Patrick Orkuma asked a rhetorical question:
"Are you people just realising now that most of these so called Men of God are con men? People have been paying for prayers, so why can’t they pay for venue?"
It was noted in the article that while 70 % of Nigerians live in abject poverty, many pastors own businesses, cars and houses.
What is your opinion? December 31 gate fee - fair or not?