HIGHLIGHT ON THE HISTORY OF BAPTIST WORK IN NIGERIA
Baptist work in Nigeria began with the appointment by the Southern Baptist Convention of America of the first missionary to the country, Rev. Thomas Jefferson Bowen in 1849. He arrived Badagry, Nigeria on the 5th of August, 1850.
(August 19th) Arrival to Abeokuta of Bowen where he spent 18 months, studied the Yoruba language and wrote a book on Yoruba grammar.
29) Revd. Bowen who had gone to the USA in 1852 came back with his
wife, Laurenna; Mr & Mrs Lucy and Mr. & Mrs. Dennard. They
arrived through Lagos.
January 22) – Mrs Laurenna Bowen began the ‘Sabbath School’ which later transformed into Sunday School at Ijaye –Orile.
(July) – The First Baptist Church building in Nigeria was erected at Ijaye-Orile.
(September 29) Another Baptist Missionary, William H. Clarke arrived Ijaye
(April 4) Bowen left Orile Ijaye to visit Ogbomoso and Ilorin.
(September 30) The Oke Oshupa (which transformed into Okelerin Baptist Church was established at Ogbomoso by Rev. Thomas Jefferson Bowen.
1856 (April 16) Rev. & Mrs Bowen left ogbomoso for the USA due to ill health.
1858 (May 24) Willian H. Clarke left Orile Ijaye for the USA and he did not return. He later died in 1871 at the age of 42.
1862 The Orile Ijaye Baptist Church (1st Baptist Church in Nigeria) was destroyed as the town, Orile-Ijaye itself, during the Yoruba civil wars.
The Baptist Mission work in Nigeria suffered a severe setback in terms
of men and material because the Americans were engaged in an internal
war at home while there were civil wars going on in Yorubalan, the only
area of Baptist concentration then.
( June)- Rev. William J David was sent by the foreign mission Board of
the Southern Baptist Convention of America to revive Baptist work in
Nigeria. He baptized and organized the few faithfuls left in the towns
of Lagos, Abeokuta, Oyo and Ogbomoso. On October 14, Rev. David who had been in Liberia came back with W.W Colley, and Moses Ladejo stone as leaders.
1 – The First Baptist Church in Lagos was organized with 24 members.
The following day 20 members of the church who had earlier been baptized
by Wesleyan Missionaries, received the believers baptism. LeviGreen was
ordained as Deacon while members of the Moses Ladejo stone was formally
appointed as Mission worker in 1876 and on January 25, 1877
he began work in Ogbomoso. By 1878, he had been licensed to preach and
became the Pastor of the Oshupa Baptist Church in Ogbomoso.
S.G Pinnock resuscitated Baptist work in Oyo after the Alaafin
Adeyemi’s subtle political and diplomatic maneuvers were unfolded
between 1881 and 1884.
(November 1) – Baptist Academy, the very First Baptist Secondary School
in Nigeria, was officially opened on Mission Compound, Lagos, by Rev.
William J. David – the missionary pastor of First Baptist Church, Lagos,
with Samuel Morohundiya Harden as Principal. (The nucleus of the
institution had earlier been established in 1855 by Joseph Harden – son
of an American slave and missionary of the SBC in Liberia who
transferred his services to Lagos in 1855).
(March) Secession from the original Lagos Baptist Church many bona fide members and the formation of a new congregation, the Native Baptist Church, which later became known as the Ebenezer Baptist Church’ Lagos.
(May, 8) Founding date of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso
Mojola Agbebi’s extensive evangelistic tour of the Niger Delta region
and parts of the interior towns and villages in Western Nigeria.
Secession in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Lagos culminating in the formation of the Araromi Baptist Church, also in Lagos.
Baptist Church Lagos, established its “branch” in Ibadan, officially
marking the beginning of Idikan Baptist Chruch, Ibadan, with Denrele A.
Obasa, a layman, as leader. (Effective take-off of the out-station was
in February, 1905).
Publication of the first set of Yoruba Baptist Hymn Books.
The establishment of the Baptist Medical Centre, Ogbomoso (It was officially opened in 1923).
30 Death of Revd Moses Ladejo Stone, Veteran Baptist Pastor , first
ordained indigenous Minister of the Baptist denomination in Nigeria, who
served at various times as Pastor of Oke Oshupa (Okelerin Baptist
Church Ogbomoso, Ebenezer Baptist Church Lagos and First Baptist Church,
By the close of the 19th
century, 50 years after Bowen started the work, 42 white and 6 Negro
missionaries had served in the Nigerian field. 13 of these died on
active service while many suffered ill health. By the turn of the
century only 3 families were left in the country, as the Foreign Mission
Board never sent new missionaries during the decade 1891 -1901
principally due to shortage of funds and perhaps because of the apparent
unimpressive result on ground.
OVERVIEW OF BAPTIST WORK EXPANSION FROM 1914
1914, Baptist work entered a new phase with new initiatives and
significant progress in growth, geographical expansion, the founding of
new institutions and agencies, increase in the work of missions, and the
development of a remarkably successful plan of financial support.
Mission work during this period was characterized by the numerical
growth of members and baptized converts. As soon s a Baptist community
was opened up in an area, it began to spread its tentacles by helping to
establish sister churches and preaching stations.
work also extended to Eastern and Northern Nigeria during the period
1914-1950. Areas touched included Buguma in Niger Delta (though since
1893); Sapele, Calabar or other areas. Between 1915 and 1917, most Delta
Baptist Churches were organized by Mojola Agbebi and brought under a
common administrative unit called the Niger Delta Baptist Mission, with
Buguma as the headquarters.
Work expanded to the core Eastern Nigeria in about 1917 with the first
location affected being Ihiagwa, not far from Owerri, the capital of the
present day Imo State. While the foundation of the work in Ihiagwa is
credited to J.T Princewell, a member or Buguma B.C and travelling trader
to Ihiagwa, the pioneer missionary to the area was Revd Wariboko
Animiyeonu George Amakiri, who succeeded Dr. Mojola Agbebi in his work
as the first itinerant Baptist missionary in the Niger Delta.
was not until 1943 that an American Baptist Missionary, Rev. W.H.
Carson visited Owerri while Rev. Russel L. Locke arrived Owerri in 1957
as the first resident Southern Baptist Missionary in the area.
The Baptist work was massively expanded to Northern Nigeria by traders
and Baptist Missionaries, mostly of Ogbomoso origin who massively moved
to such towns as Zungeru, Kaduna, Zaria, Kano, Jos, Minna and environs
after the amalgamation of the North and South in Nigeria in 1914. The
Southern civil servants who were transferred to the North during the
period also aided in the Baptist enterprise expansion.
expansion and consolidation of Baptist work in Northern Nigeria would
not be complete without a mention of the activities of First Baptist
Church in Kaduna especially during the years of Revd. I.A Adejumobi and
The establishment of Baptist work in Benin City and environs is
traceable to a disagreement and concomitant schism that erupted in the
CMS Anglican Church in the town in 1921 which led to a splinter group
organizing an independent fellowship. Thereafter, the group approached
the Nigerian Baptist Convention for the establishment of a Baptist
Church in Benin in November 1921. To Revd. Obadiah Emokpae goes the
credit of consolidating the work in Benin and helping in accelerating
Baptist spread in Edo land.
SPECIFIC EVENTS WITH DATES
11: The birth of the Yoruba Baptist Association, with Dr.Mojola Agbebi ,
Pastor of the Araromi Baptist Chruch, Lagos, elected first president.
September 2: Baptist Theoogical Seminary at Shaki Begun.
18: Death of Dr. Mojola Agbebi, First President of the Yoruba Baptist
Association, who until his death was also the president of the Baptist
Union of West Africa.
The Yoruba Baptist Association metamorphosed into a national body, the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
of the Women Missionary Union of Nigeria (originally called Baptist
Women’s Missionary League and Later Women ‘s Missionary Society) in
Establishment of Baptist Boys’ High School, Abeokuta.
The Nigerian Baptist Magazine, the official organ of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, was first published.
Mother’s Day celebration in all churches of the Nigerian Baptist Convention was held for the first time.
The Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) of Nigeria was granted an auxiliary status.
2: Death of Mrs Adeline Adeotan Agbebi, widow of Dr. Mojola Agbebi (Mrs
gbebi was until her death, an outsanding teacher and women’s leader
especially in the WMU of Nigeria).
Baptist Training College separated from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and moved to Iwo.
30: Arrival of Dr. Charles E. Maddry, Executive Secretary, Baptist FMB
of the SBC USA and party for a visit to see the results of Baptist work
and to confer with missionaries and African leaders on matters of
importance in Baptist affairs in Nigeria.
January: Baptist Training College for men moved from Ogbomoso to Iwo and united with the Industrial School.
Establishment of Reagan Memorial Girls’ School, Yaba, Lagos.
Sept 5: Registration and incorporation of Nigerian Baptist Convention.
19: Dr. Ira N. Patternson elected General Superintendent of the
Nigerian Baptist Convention to succeed Dr. George Green (then retiring).
of the first beneficiary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention scholarship
scheme, Mr (later Deacon) Aremu M. Laosebikan to Nigeria after his
training in Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The appointment of the First Nigerian Baptist Convention field evangelist, Revd Isaac Adekunle Adejumobi.
The Centenary Year of Baptist Work in Nigeria.
Opening of the Baptist Women’s Training College, Idi Aba, Abeokuta
Feb: Setting up of the Royal Ambassadors (RA), metamorphosing out of the Boys’ Club which had been established since 1934.
of a theological institution, Hausa Baptist Pastors’ School, (now
Baptist Theological Seminary) Kawo, Kaduna. The “official” beginning was
actually in 1952.
of the two types of Mission areas served by the Nigerian Baptist
Convention in its mission programme into the Home and Foreign Missions
23: Foundation Laying of the Baptist building, Ibadan, by Revd Dr.
George W. Sadler, then Secretary for Africa, Foreign Mission Board of
the Southern Baptist Convention, USA.
of the Baptist Student Union (BSU) – the precursor of the present-day
Baptist Student Fellowship (BSF), an unmbrella union of all Nigerian
Baptist students, especially those in tertiary institutions.
July 31: First Pan-African Baptist Youth Conference held at Baptist College, Iwo.
Billy Graham, an internationally acclaimed Baptist evangelist, visited Nigeria on a preaching tour.
Establishment of the First Foreign Mission field of the Nigerian Baptist Convention in Sierra Leone.
Year of Nigeria’s independence, which carried in its trail changes in
all spheres of life socially, politically etc. In the Nigerian Baptist
fold, missionaries moved from their erstwhile supervisory roles to the
role of advisers.
Neale Covington Young left Nigeria on retirement, after serving
diligently for 41 years in the service of the Baptist Mission as leader
of the Women’s missionary Union of Nigeria. (NB. Camp Young, Ede, Osun
State, is named in her honour).
of Dr. J.T. Ayorinde as the first Nigerian to hold the revered office
of General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Ayorinde
succeeded Revd Dr. Ira Newbern Patterson who retired from office that
year. Golden Jubilee celebration of the formation of the Nigerian
Baptist Convention as an organized body.
1: Revd Paul Ebhomielen assumed duty as Secretary of the Department of
Missions and Evangelism of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
Aremu M. Laosebikan assumed duties as Education Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention became a member of the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).
The Nigerian Baptist Convention joined the World Council of Churches (WCC).
of Revd Dr. Emmanuel Ajayi Dahunsi as General Secretary of the Nigerian
Baptist Convention (the second Nigerian to hold that office).
March 15: Government took over all voluntary Agencie’ schools, including those of the Baptist Denomination all over the country.
Death of Revd Dr. James Tanimola Ayorinde, the very first indigenous General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
January: Death of Revd Dr. Emmanuel Ajayi Dahunsi, then General
Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention in a ghastly motor accident
along Oyo-Ogbomoso road.
April: Election of Revd Dr. S.T. Ola Akande as the third Nigerian to
occupy the exalted office of General Secretary, Nigerian Baptist
first African Principal (President) of the Nigerian Baptist Theological
Seminary, Ogbomoso, Rev. Dr. (later Professor Osadolor Imasogie, took
over the headship of the institution upon the retirement of missionary
Mrs Aduke Akinola was elected Executive Secretary (later Executive Director) of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) of Nigeria.
retirement of Rev. Dr. S.T. Ola Akande as General Secretary of the
Nigerian Baptist Convention and assumption of office of Revd Dr. S. Ola
Fadeji as the fourth Nigerian General Secretary.
Centenary celebration of the establishment of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso.
Change in the name of the Home and Foreign Missions Board of the Nigerian Baptist Convention to Global Missions Board.
of Revd Professor Yesufu Ameh Obaje, the then President of the Nigerian
Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, as Chaplain of Aso Rock Villa,
the seat of Nigerian Government. Obaje still retained his office as
president of NBTS until 2003 when he handed over the Seminary headship
to Revd Professor Joseph Abiodun Ilori.
hundred and fifty years of Baptist work in Nigeria and target date for
the coverage of the gospel to every nook and cranny of the country
through the Operation Reach All’ (ORA 2000) programme.
Revd Dr. S. Ademola Ishola assumed office as General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
of Dr. Mrs Aduke Akinola as Executive Director of the Women’s
Missionary Union (WMU) of Nigeria and assumption of office of Pastor
(later Revd) Mrs. Yemi Ladokun as successor, in May 2003. (Mrs. Ladokun
also became President of Baptist Women’s Union of Africa (BWUA) in
August, and was as well ordained into the full gospel ministry that same
establishment of Bowen University, a private University of the Nigerian
Baptist Convention, named in memory of the pioneer Southern Baptist
Missionary to Nigeria, Revd Thomas Jefferson Bowen, with Professor
Joseph Taiwo Okedara appointed (in 2001) as pioneer Vice Chancellor.