DISCUSS WITH EXAMPLES THE FOLLOWING FACTORS TRIGGER-OF THE PROLIFICATION OF CHURCHES IN NIER DELTA (DISCUSS THE EMERGENCE OF AFRICAN CHURCHES)
HISTORY OF AFRICAN INDEPENDENT CHURCHES
More than 5000 churches of African origin are operational both in Africa and around the world. Though Christianity entered Africa through Europe, some African developed some churches by integrated African ingredients and as well correcting some of the things that are not viewed as normal. There is also the existence of selfish interest by some founders of some of these churches.
The earliest of them was the one that pulled out from the Wesleyan Mission in Freetown by the Settlers in 1819. In 1862, some Fante became divided from the Wesleyan Methodist Mission and formed the Methodist Society.
In Nigeria in 1888 the Native Baptist Church became divided from the American Southern Baptist Mission. In 1891 still in Nigeria the United African Church divided from the Anglican Church.
In Zambia in 1908 the Church of the Watch Tower was founded in what was then called Northern Rhodesia. In Uganda in 1914, many Ganda members of the Church Missionary Society founded the Society of the One Almighty God. This church at present has so many members.
A.CHANGE OF CHURCH POLICIES
In Kenya in 1914, Johana Owalo left the Church Mission Society and founded the Nomiya Luo Mission. The Army of the Cross was founded in 1922 in Ghana. In 1925 the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim was founded in Nigeria. By 1930 in Nigeria as well the Church of the Lord (Aladura) was founded. In 1931 in Nigeria the Christ Apostolic Church was founded. In 1952 Sierra Leone witnessed the foundation of the God is our Light Church among the Koro people.
In 1953 the Church of the Holy Spirit was founded in Tanzania. In 1954, the Prophetess Alice Lenshina founded the Lumba(itinerating) Church in Zambia. In 1957, the Church of Christ in Africa was founded in Kenya. By the 1963, the Roman Catholic Church in Kenya encountered a serious problem that led to the establishment of the Legion of Mary Church.
EMERGENCE OF THE AFRICAN CHURCH
One can say the real implementation of the ideal of The Native Pastorate stated when James Johnson took over Breadfruit Church, which was undoubtedly the most important and the wealthiest Church in Lagos. Due to the effort of indefatigable Johnson by 1889 all the Churches in Lagos save one, that is , the Christ Church, where Europeans and most Europeanized Africans worshipped, were absorbed into the Native Pastorate. By this token, Europeans were no longer in ministerial positions in such Churches, the prayers for the native kings, thus signifying the march towards the establishment of an African Church .James Johnson, had always believed that the Native Pastorate would form the nucleus of an African Church which would evolve distinctly African Christianity and would incorporate some parts of indigenous religion which bore resemblance to Christianity, adopt the vernacular languages, have its own hymns and liturgy. Later on, the founding of the African Church (Bethel) had its root in the unwillingness of the missionary societies to appoint an African especially James Johnson to the highest position in the Anglican Church following the resignation and later, death of Bishop Ajayi Crowther in 1891. This created the sharp difference between European missionaries and Africans. The 1894 settlement thereby an African Diocesan Bishop sought by African majority was turned down, while assistant Bishop in person of Isaac Oluwoleand Charles Phillips were appointed to cover up this obvious retrogressive move made many Africans become disillusioned with the European missionaries. In December 2893, the three Bishops- Isaac Oluwole, Charles Phillips and Hill returned to Lagos after their ordination in London. In January 1894, however Bishop Hill and his wife died while Herbert Tug well, was consecrated to replace him. Owing to persistent agitation of Africans, particularly in Breadfruit Church, James Johnson was made the assistant Bishop over the Niger Delta in 1899. He immediately announced his Niger Bishopric fund, to which the Archbishop contributed the offertory collected at the consecration service.
However, the CMS authority felt that James Johnson’s presence in Breadfruit Church was undermining the authority and influence of Bishop Oluwole. He (James Johnson) was therefore demanded to resign his pastoral care of the Breadfruit Church. This view became unpopular amongst the congregation of the Church who preferred James Johnson to any other Minister. In July 1901, Bishop Johnson was away on Episcopal visit to the Delta when Bishop. Tug well announced that his (Johnson’s) resignation from Breadfruit Church had taken effect. On his return, Johnson found his family and belongings thrown out of the street as he was not allowed residence in the Church vicarage. This fury was aggravated by Mrs. Johnson during the crisis. It was in the midst of this that Nathaniel Johnson was appointed the successor of James Johnson. His appointment was met with stiff opposition and protest by the laity congregation of Breadfruit Church against such treatment and the unwholesome clergy’s authoritarian tendency. It was clear that by the turn of the 19th Century, grounds had been well prepared for the emergence of the African Church.
Thus on the morning of Sunday, October 13th 1901, Bishop James Johnson came to St. Paul’s Breadfruit, Lagos to conduct his valedictory service. It then dawned on his supporters who were in the majority among the congregation that their pleas to have him with them had finally fallen on deaf ears. Bishop Tegwell was quoted as saying that those parishioners who did not want Rev.Nathaniel Johnson, the new vicar, could leave the Church. to parishioners, numbering about 600, than left st. Paul’s Breadfruit before the commencement of sermon and marched towards Rose Cottage, the residence of the Church warden, Chief Jacob Kehinde Coker, Singing and chanting as they went. By the time the procession arrived at Rose Cottage, the residence other number had swollen up to about 800. The procession that day was more of a protest march than session. As J.k Coker recounted later, they severed themselves at once without any protect, without any preparation or arrangement for the journey to be undertaken’. at Rose Cottage, they resolve not to go back to St. Paul’s Breadfruit. They wanted to be independence Church within the establishment still accepting the authority of Salisbury Square, London, the Headquarters of CMS.
The administration style of the Church is such that both the clergy and laity share power equally. No one group dominates the other as they guided by the constitution of the Church. The spiritual/ overall head of the Church remains the Primate who oversees the spiritual matters affecting the Church. Similarly, The Bishop and other Minister are in charge of Spiritual matters in their Dioceses and Churches respectively. on the other hand, the finance and other temporal matters of the Church are being supervised by the Lay President and other lay officer at different state of the Church.
The African Church lives and supports educational developmental development in Nigeria. It has to its credit the establishment of several primary and secondary schools across the country, a college of Theology in Ifako, Lagos which is affiliated to the University of Ibadan for the training of the clergy and award of degrees. Currently a National College of Education for the award of NCE Certificate in September 2007 at Ifako by grace of God.
THE African Church has a constitution and this has been subjected to a number of reviews. The current constitution is undergoing a review for necessary amendments
“Coker, Jacob Kehinde, Nigeria, African Church of Nigeria”. Dacb.org. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
“The African Church “Heaven’s Light Our Guide” … Official Website”. Theafricanchurch.org. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
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