Affiliation with TAC Great Britian

Chapter 8

 

Affiliation of the Defunct Nigerian Faith Tabernacle Congregation with The Apostolic Church Great Britain and Adoption of The Apostolic Church as a Denominational Name in Nigeria

 

By

Samson  A. Fatokun

 

As earlier related in chapter 5, the state of affairs in Nigerian Faith Tabernacle (F.T.), consequent upon the persecution that followed the 1930 revival  and the refusal of the American Faith Tabernacle headquarters in Philadelphia to come to the aid of her persecuted Nigerian branch, led in the same year to the holding of a consultative meeting of leaders of Faith Tabernacle in Nigeria, where it was  resolved to search for a new real Pentecostal church from Great Britain to affiliate with  for Colonial government recognition. In the words of S.G. Adegboyega:

 

Our experience was like a drowned man in the water who had nothing to hold to rescue himself from his hopeless state of predicament…It was obvious to us in the meeting that the British Government under whose Colonial Regime we were at that time was not favourably disposed to our relationship with America which was regarded as a lawless  country at that time. We therefore decided to look for missionaries from Great Britain … who also practise divine healing similar to our own belief[1].

 

Figure 1: Copies of Riches of Grace Magazine (courtesy: Pastor P.F. Usman, TACN, Ajah Area Superintendent

 

Thereupon, they came across the official magazine of The Apostolic Church called Riches of Grace through Pastor D.O. Odunbanjo, which he discovered in the house of E.F. Elebute, a member  of the Nigerian F.T. Lagos Assembly which he got from J.A. Ademakinwa (later an Elder).[2]

Following a careful study of the discovered Riches of Grace – the official magazine of The Apostolic Church Great Britain (as earlier discussed in chapter 5), the leaders unanimously agreed to ask for cooperation from this European  Pentecostal denomination, with the view to facilitating the already begun indigenous Pentecostal revival:

 

After carefully going through the magazine and other Apostolic Church publications, we discovered that their doctrines were similar to our own received from the Faith Tabernacle Congregation in America. We also discovered that there were other doctrines embraced and taught by The Apostolic Church of Great Britain which we found to be scripturally sound but were not taught and practised by the Faith Tabernacle Congregation of America… we then finally resolved to write and invite The Apostolic Church of Great Britain to come over to Nigeria and help us[3].

 

Thereupon, Pastor, D.O. Odubanjo, who had been functioning as the Missionary Correspondent of the indigenous movement right from Precious Stone days, and who was equally the brain behind the affiliation with Faith Tabernacle Congregation, U.S.A., was mandated to write a letter to the Missionary Centre of The Apostolic Church Great Britain situated in Bradford, to send down missionaries to assist them in the Pentecostal revival in Nigeria[4]. As reflected in this letter later published in the church’s official magazine, under the tag  “Ethiopia’s Cry for help,”  D.O. Odubanjo in an earnestly-worded request intimated them with the Great Revival and the urgent need of their assistance:

 

The Lord has commenced a great work in this country and has stretched forth His Hand on thousands of people, and the Mohammedans are coming to the fold in leaps and bounds; and as such, I would like your saints in Great Britain to consider the lives of the perishing humanity in this country in sending some of the leaders along with a prophet to pay us a visit as early as possible, as the Lord has laid it on my heart and my associate pastors to affiliate our several branches to The Apostolic Church in Great Britain.

… We are sure the Lord will use your representatives to enlighten the brethren here more when they come. “Come

 

over and help us!” is the great cry everywhere. Shall be pleased to hear your decision. My hearty love to all the Great Britain Saints. All the saints greet you. — D.O. Odubanjo’ (Sgd). [5]

 

After a deliberation on this request for help by the leadership of The Apostolic Church Great Britain at their missionary council meeting held at Bradford (the Missionary Centre of the church) during the Easter Convention, and the following International Missionary Council meeting in Hereford on 27 May 1931, it was unanimously agreed that the International President of the organization, Pastor Daniel Powell Williams, Pastor Andrew Turnbull, the Vice-President, and the International Prophet/Evangelist, Pastor William Jones Williams, be sent on this  mission.

 

However, before the arrival of the British missionaries, there were some developments in the Nigerian F.T. which needed to be mentioned here.  Pastor D.O. Odubanjo made a careful reading and study of T.A.C.’s literature on the doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism with signs following. With an overwhelming conviction of its biblical authenticity, he decided to deliver a teaching on the subject to Nigerian  F.T. members.

 

The effect of this teaching was a unanimous decision by Nigerian F.T. leaders to hold Holy Spirit Revival Tarrying Meetings to actualize the reception of this heavenly Baptism. In the series of meetings conducted by Pastor D.O. Odubanjo at Moloney Bridge Street, Lagos (the then Missionary Headquarters of Nigerian F.T.) two of the members-Brother I.G. Sakpo (later Pastor) and Brother  Silas Ogunlaja were reportedly baptized with the Holy Spirit with outward manifestations of speaking in tongues and prophesying.[6] Other manifestations of the Spirit experienced during the Holy Spirit Revival included some works of  healing and deliverance. From that time I.G. Sakpo, the first fruit of the Holy Ghost Revival, was prominently raised up as a prophetic channel using the popular biblically prophetic expression: “Thus says the Lord” to back up his series of  messages. This discovery of an exceptional prophetic gift in him consequently led to his transfer from Lagos Branch (under Pastor Odubanjo) to Ijebu- Ode, the General Headquarters of the Nigerian F.T. to be staying and working directly with Pastor Sadare (the then acclaimed National leader)[7] as his Personal Assistant. Hence, the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the outward evidence of speaking in tongues, which today is the one of the principal doctrinal stance of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, had been experienced by the natives before the visit of the British delegates.

Furthermore, before the arrival of the British delegates, there arose a  rumour from some quarters in Lagos that The Apostolic Church in  Great Britain  did not accept nor practise the doctrine of healing without the use of medicine as embraced by the Nigerian F.T. right from their days in Precious Stone Society. The Nigerian leaders, out of fear of compromise of their faith[8], called for at the conference of Nigerian F.T. pastors held at Ijebu-Ode (the National Headquarters of the church seat of Pastor Sadare). The conference had Pastor  Sadare as chairman, and  Pastor Odubanjo as Secretary[9]. The conference resolved to send a message to the United Kingdom through cablegram to cancel the intended visit of The Apostolic Church’s delegates.

 

This move was, however, allegedly interrupted divinely through the prophetic ministry of Brother I.G. Sakpo, who under a claimed move of the Spirit, trekked all the way from the mission house at 24, Abasi St. Ijebu – Ode,[10] to 19, Alapo Street, Ijebu-Ode (the General Headquarters of the Nigerian F.T.)  where the conference was being held, just as the final decision of canceling the proposed trip was being taken. As soon as he entered into the auditorium (after being beckoned to come in by the chairman from the gate where he stood) he reportedly  began to prophesy, relaying God’s mind for the church on the exact matter they were deliberating upon. Among many things, the prophet purportedly declared that it was God’s perfect will for the missionaries to come and that they were coming to the country for a purpose. That it was He (the Lord) would use them mightily for the gospel work in the land.[11] As narrated  by Adegboyega:

 

After delivering the message the prophet left the meeting immediately. After his departure late Pastor D .0. Odubanjo said “here you are, the Lord has spoken to us, here you are, we must allow them to come”. As a result of divine intervention the leaders took another decision to allow them to come, even though a cablegram had already been sent to the United Kingdom, telling them “DON’T COME FOR YOU DON’T BELIEVE TN DIVINE

HEALING”. But surprisingly, in confirmation of the Spoken Word of the Lord, a reply cablegram was received from The Apostolic Church in United Kingdom, saying,

 

“WE ARE COMING, DIVINE HEALING A THING MOST SURELY BELIEVED ACCORDING TO ST LUKE’S GOSPEL CHAPTER I VERSE I”[12]

 

As a further confirmation, in 1930, in a prayer session held before the arrival of the Lagos delegates during the persecution at Ilesa, Evangelist Babalola reportedly seen in a vision an envelope handed over to the leaders. On that envelope was boldly written the name, “The Apostolic Church”[13]. Similarly, prior to the invitation, there was said to have been a prophecy in the church in Great Britain through which the church was informed that there would be an invitation from some people outside the British Isles, and that the invitation should not be refused and the church was to prepare financially and materially for the invitation. The prophecy was confirmed when a letter was received from Nigeria in 1930[14].

 

With the deep conviction of the veracity of this prophetic ministry through I.G. Sakpo and Babalola’s earlier revelation, Nigerian F.T. leadership changed its mind and held unto initial plan to invite The Apostolic Church Great Britain. In response to this, the authorities of The Apostolic Church Great Britain at the Whitsuntide International Missionary Council Meeting held at Hereford on 27 May 1931, unanimously agreed to send a powerful team of a three-man delegate, comprising of the International President and Founder of The Apostolic Church Great Britain, Pastor Daniel Powel Williams, the International Vice-President – Pastor Andrew Turnbull, and the International Council Prophet/ Evangelist – Pastor William Jones Williams (the younger brother of the founder) on mission to Nigeria.

 

Arrival of the Delegates of The Apostolic Church Great Britain in Nigeria

 

The three-man delegate selected for the visit left Liverpool, England on Elder-Dempter Line’s  R.M.S. ”Ada” for Lagos on Wednesday, 9 September 1931, and arrived at Apapa Wharf on the 23rd of the same month. They were lodged with the Canadian Rev C.R. Meyer (the missionary from Faith and Truth Temple, Toronto, Canada) at Aje Street, Yaba Lagos[15].   A rousing welcome service was given to them at the Missionary Headquarters of Nigerian F.T. in Lagos at 7.oopm in the evening on the day of their arrival. However, due to differences of opinions on doctrinal matters and other related issues, there was no agreement of bringing in Rev Meyer into their mission team[16].

 

 

Figure 2: The Apostolic Church Delegate who visited Nigeria in 1931 for affiliation

(Centre – TAC Great Britain Founder & President, left –Vice-President, & right International Prophet & Evangelist

 

The delegates conducted large revival campaigns in Lagos during which about eight hundred persons were reportedly “swept off their feet and baptized in the Holy Spirit”[17]and  healing with about four hundred were converted’[18].   In the report of Turnbull:

The power of the Holy Spirit was so tremendously felt that many people were baptized with the Holy Spirit in the services without the laying of hands. Clergymen and native bishops sought the power of God and went away  rejoicing.[19]

 

Figure 3 : TAC Delegates from Great Britain with Nigerian Leaders & Members of F.T.

 

Other places visited by the British delegates with Pentecostal revival campaigns included Ijebu-Ode (Saturday 17 October 1931), Abeokuta (25 October 1931 – attended by over one thousand people with the king (Alake) in attendance, Ibadan (27 October 1931), and Yagba – where in a congregation of over one thousand in attendance  some four hundred people gave their lives to Christ[20]. The centres at Ilesa and Kaduna could not be reached due to the prevalent of persecution in those places[21]. They were advised not to visit those places for fear that their visit might instigate public violence.

 

Discussions on Affiliation Conditions

Thereafter, series of consultative meetings (which lasted for two weeks) were held between the African leaders and British  missionaries on important subjects such as church government, church doctrines, gifts of the Holy Spirit, divine healing, medical and educational institutions, family life, qualifications of eldership, ordination and ministerial outfits, church ordinances, other related biblical doctrinal themes, and  so on.[22] After serious deliberations, an agreement was eventually reached for affiliation.

 

However, the British delegates demanded that a form of covenant or agreement of cooperation be prepared and signed by the two parties for three reasons:

  • To avoid being charged with stealing or snatching away members by the F.T. Congregation, S.A.;
  • To curtail any future attempt by the Africans to shift their loyalty to other religious body;  and finally
  • To strengthen the unity between both parties, and make the affiliation both permanent and legally binding.[23]

 

They explained that the move was not self-originated but based on warnings received from some natives that. As recorded by Adegboyega: That we Africans are unreliable, untrustworthy, and highly diplomatic. That after their affiliation with us and all became well with us, we would forsake them and drive them away.[24]

 

The agreement paper was signed by all concerned with the exception of Pastor S.G. Adegboyega who sternly objected the signing of agreement of co-operation on the grounds that such a practice was unscriptural and therefore uncalled for[25]. His insistence on not signing, after much persuasion, eventually culminated in the ruling out of the agreement document. Below is a draft of the proposed agreement paper for affiliation stating the “Conditions of Co-operation”:

 

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

General Headquarters:

The Office, Penygroes, near

Lianelly, S. Wales, Great Britain.

Missionary Headquarters:

Apostolic Church, Great

Horton, Bradford.

CONDITIONS OF CO-OPERATION

The following items are to be considered as conditions and. principles of co-operation between the body of people called The Faith Tabernacle that has its General Headquarters at Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria, with its Missionary Headquarters at Lagos, and the body of people called The Apostolic Church that has its General Headquarters at Penygroes, South Wales, Great Britain, with its Missionary Headquarters at Bradford, England, that has its branches throughout British Isles, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, United States of America, Italy, France and Denmark:

 

  1. The transaction and agreement was made between three of the European Representatives of The Apostolic Church in the persons of D.P. Williams, Penygroes, Wales, (President of the International Council) Andrew Turnbull of Glasgow, Scotland, (Vice President) and W.J.. Williams of Bedford, England, England (one of the members of the Council), and the following ministers of the African people – J.B. Sadare (Esinsin-Ade), Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria (Senior Pastor and President of Faith Tabernacle) D.O. Odubanjo, Lagos (Pastor),  S.A. Mensah, Kaduna, (Pastor), I.B. Akinyele of Ibadan (Pastor), J. A. Babatope of Ilesha (Pastor), S.G. Adegboyega of Ebute-Metta (Pastor), E.GL. Macaulay of Zaria (Pastor).
  2. When such ministers were honourably and respectfully ordained on the Lord’s Day November 15, 1931, at their usual place of worship in Lagos. The conditions were agreed upon by both parties with the Tenets of the Apostolic Church as they are tenaciously held by the said Church, including the following amendments for the sake of unity and understanding:—

(1) That we consider for the time being that it will be most important in the ministry and labour to build up the Church of God to civilize, educate and establish the saints in the truth, in order that the Church becomes a factor in the country.

(2) That said Ministers have been ordained and called out of God for the above purpose.

(3) That they hold their Ministerial Certificates as their personal rights to preach the Gospel in the Church and everywhere as long as their lives and conduct will be conformed to the New Testament, the Tenets and these conditions when such certificates will be duly renewed every two years. If there be nothing detrimental in theft lives.

 

 

(4) That these Ministers be fully recognised by the Church in Nigeria. Every Assembly connected must be notified that they are chosen with full authority to go in and out in their respectful ministry among them.

(5) That these men will be responsible to work out a plan to visit and hold special meeting for a week or two as they deem wise in different Centres from time to time so that unity and love may prevail between the Assembly throughout the country at large. And the same spirit and teaching may establish the whole in the same faith.

(6) That the custom of Polygamy must be fully considered as evil practice according to the New Testament teaching, and from the date of this agreement will be abolished from the Church. That no one hence forth will be baptised and made partaker of the. Lord s Table that remains in polygamy. That those that are entangled in such condition will be expected to make it theft duty to their utmost ability to do away with their numerous wives (including men and women).

(7) That the practice of drinking what is termed holy water” for Divine Healing henceforth be done away with as an unscriptural method, and as much that it violates the sanitary of the Government, it must not be continued. Divine Healing as much must be exercised in the light of the Holy Scripture.

(8) That all saints should be exhorted to speak respectfully of all Ministers and other denominations and Governmental Authorities, and to give due obedience and respect, the lawfully constituted Government, and while carefully abstaining from participating in political affairs, it must be the desire and purpose of the Ministers that their influence in so far as it may be properly exerted in such matters should be exerted in loyal co-operation with the Government, arid in particular if engaged in educational work, to do all in their power to promote good will and understanding between the people and the Government of the-country. To avoid judging and condemning others knowing that our Lord came to save and not to condemn.

(9) That the Congregation should be exhorted to respect those that have the rule over them in the Lord, and matters of difficulty and questions to be dealt with through their Pastors, then if need be the Elders, and lastly the Court of Appeal, the Superintendent-in-charge, so that he may be able to negotiate with Headquarters when matters of importance are called for, their judgment and final discretion and guidance on such matters or questions.

(10) That Monthly Prayer Meeting should be• held in every Assembly connected with the Church on the first Monday of every month. This shall be termed as Missionary Prayer Meeting, a special collection will be made publicly for the Missionary work and that all money be sent to Lagos, and that an able Secretary and Treasurer chosen to keep all accounts locally at Lagos. Also Secretary and Treasurer chosen in all Assemblies to keep local account. The general books at Lagos to be audited by the Superintendent and the Advisory Committee every six months. That £5 out of every £20.0.0. that will be in hand at the time of the furlough of Superintendent and Missionary to be given out of such fund to help the general council to bring the said Missionary home on their return journey.

(11) That the number of Missionaries with the Superintendent on the field will be decided by the Home Council in co-operation with the Advisory Council on the field according to the possibilities of the said fund of support through the said fund, Clause No. 10, by and through which they are to be maintained on the field.

(12) That the Home Council will be responsible for the expense of sending their men out to the field, and their expense when returning on theft furlough with help as suggested in Clause No. 10.

(13) Every called out and ordained Pastor is to send every two weeks, the report of the work in their Districts to the Headquarters in England in order to insert account of the work in Nigeria in The Apostolic Herald, the official organ of the movement.

(14) That these Ministers be – responsible to teach the Congregation to look to God for the healing of their bodies as laid down in the Scriptures, and also for the supply of their needs.

(15) That five or more men chosen as an Advisory Committee: —

(a) Pastor J.B. Esinsin-Ade

(b) Pastor S.A. Mensah

(c) Pastor D.O. Odubanjo

(d) Pastor J.A. Babatopè

(e) Pastor E.T. Epelle

(f) Pastor I.B. Akinyelè

(g) Pastor S.G. Adegboyega

(h) Pastor E.G.L. Macaulay.

along with those European Representatives in the field.

(16) That these men of responsibility must advocate and consider some plans to train the young men of the Church to be fully equipped in order to qualify them for the ministry so that they may be sent to places that are in need of Evangelists which we consider to be most important for the future development of the work at large. That the Ensign of the Church in Nigeria be NIGERIA & FOR CHRIST”[26].

 

Conclusion of Affiliation Arrangements and Final Break with Faith Tabernacle Congregation, U.S.A. 

However, with the dropping of the controversial agreement of co-operation, the parties, in compliance with the prophetic ministry through Pastor W.J. Williams, unanimously resolved to arrange for formal ordination into pastoral office, the seven leading Pastors of Nigerian F.T. (earlier made pastors just by proxy by Pastor A. Clarke) as a token of their affiliation to The Apostolic Church. Thus, on the 15th of Nov. 1931, an ordination service, the first of its kind in the history of the movement, was held at 15, Moloney Great Bridge Street, Lagos (the then Missionary Headquarters of Nigerian F.T.). The ordination service, which was jointly performed by the apostleship from Great Britain (Pastors D.P. Williams and A. Turnbull) had the following Nigerians as ordinands: J.B. Sadare, D.O. Odubanjo, J.A. Babatope, S.A. Mensah, E.G.L. Macaulay, I.B. Akinyele, and S.G. Adegboyega. This ordination was highly significant. In the words of  S.G. Adegboyega:

          The day of the ordination service was a never-to-be-forgotten date in the history   of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria. It was the day when our association with Faith Tabernacle Congregation of Philadelphia in U.S.A. was finally abrogated.  We afterwards finally decided to adopt the name “The Apostolic Church, Nigeria” as our denominational name, thereby dropping Diamond Society, Faith Tabernacle Congregation, and any other names with which we were then known   and called[27].

 

Ordination Certificate into Pastoral Office, issued from The Apostolic Church General Headquarters in Great Britain, duly signed by the International President, Pastor D.P. Williams, and the Chairman, International Missionary Council, Bradford, Pastor H. Cousen, were handed over to them on behalf of The Apostolic Church International General Council[28].

These seven men, as far history has hitherto unfolded, can be rightly regarded as the indigenous founding fathers or pioneers of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria due to the fact that the church so affiliated had been piloted through them since inception. In other words, it is fact well established from the previous chapters that The Apostolic Church was not founded in Nigeria by the British missionaries. The Apostolic Church from Great Britain, on arrival in Nigeria, met an already existing indigenous church by origin and composition, with which they only entered into affiliation with on terms of mutual agreement/cooperation.

 

 

Figure 4: The Seven Indigenous Pioneer Pastors of TACN: Sadare, Odubanjo, Mensah, Macaulay

 

 

Figure 5: Akinyele, Babatope & Adegboyega

 

After the ordination, which was taken as a token of affiliation, a final step was taken by the indigenous Pentecostal movement to drop the name ‘Faith Tabernacle’ with which it had been known and addressed hitherto. The name ‘The Apostolic Church Nigeria’ was subsequently adopted as the new denominational label of the indigenous revival movement which had started since 1918.

This newly adopted denominational name remained the label for the defunct Nigerian Faith Tabernacle till the 1940 when some African leaders[29]due to some misunderstanding with the British missionaries,[30] broke away to form what is today known as “Christ Apostolic Church” (this will be discussed fully in the next chapter).

However, the existence of some branches of Faith Tabernacle Congregation  in Nigeria today, suggests that not all Faith Tabernacle branches in Nigeria changed their  name to The Apostolic Church in 1931. This position is supported by the fact that not all Nigerian F.T. leaders who were made pastors by proxy by Pastor A. Clarke listed by name in Adegboyega’s book were part of the formally ordained pastors by The Apostolic Church Great Britain’s delegates to Nigeria in 1931. Only seven were listed.  Epelle of Umuahia’s is missing on the list. The continued existence of Faith Tabernacle in  Umuahia after 1931 is supported by the history of  Assemblies of God in Nigeria which is traced to the affiliation of Augustus E. Wogi’s led group (later called the ‘Church of Jesus Christ’) which broke away from Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Umuahia in 1937 on the subject of Holy Spirit Baptism which Wogu discovered from Herald of His Coming (the official magazine of Assemblies of God, USA)[31]. This new indigenous church led by Wogu out of Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Umuahia was later affiliated to Assemblies of God, U.S.A. in 1939 to produce what is known in Nigeria today as Assemblies of God[32]. In addition to this, there was also the probability of other groups in Nigeria affiliating with Faith Tabernacle Congregation, U.S.A. after 1931 as evident in the existence of Faith Tabernacle Congregation District Headquarters in Lagos, Imo (25 Okigwe Road, Owerri) and Enugu (12/24 OConnor Street, Asaba)  States and branches in other places in Nigeria today, with a new National Headquarters in Nigeria located at Bolo Street, D-Line, Port-Harcourt,

 

 

Rivers State[33] (in replacement of the 1930 National headquarters at 19 Alapo Street, Ijebu-Ode)[34]. Thus we can say that the de-affiliation of the Sadare-Odubanjo led indigenous movement   from Faith Tabernacle Congregation, U.S.A. in 1931 was not the end of that church denomination in Nigeria as thought by some scholars.

 

Request for TAC European Resident Missionaries in Nigeria

Shortly after the ordination of the seven pioneer indigenous pastors in November 1931,  there was a request by the pioneer African Pastors for resident European missionaries in Nigeria to facilitate the expansion of the church. As reported by Adegboyega:

 

Before the three missionary delegates left Nigeria for their homeland in the United Kingdom, one of the requests put before them in the series of the Council Meetings held with them by the church leaders in

Nigeria was to consider the necessity of sending resident missionaries of The Apostolic Church from United Kingdom to help us to build up and establish The Apostolic  Church work in Nigeria… it was then decided among ourselves to appoint a Sub-Committee to draft a letter applying to the International Missionary Council in Great Britain to send to us two men whose character and qualifications to be among other things, integrity, purity, ability, mature experience, patience, God-fearing, forbearance and longsuffering, absolute faith in divine healing without the use of medicine…[35]

 

The above quotation revealed that far from being the making of T.A.C. British delegates of 1931 to impose resident British missionaries on the newly affiliated indigenous Pentecostal church, it was rather purely an indigenous move to invite British Missionaries of The Apostolic Church, Great Britain as resident missionaries in Nigeria.

In response to the above request, the International Missionary Centre in Bradford approved the sending of an ordained apostle and an ordained prophet to Nigeria, in persons of Pastor George Perfect of Bradford and Pastor Idris J. Vaughan of Wales. This was in line with church’s practice of divine government led by apostles and prophets (later to be discussed in part 2 of this book). The duo arrived as pioneer resident British missionaries of TAC in Nigeria on 2 June 1932. They were lodged in Lagos at Spenser Street, Yaba (significantly a building where the first elected President of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe later lived).

 

 

 

 

 

One of the major assignments the delegates took upon themselves at their arrival was making personal and direct contacts with the British authorities in Nigeria through the presentation of their credentials which included a letter of authority from the Secretary of State to the Colonies in Nigeria, authorizing them to be allowed to establish “The Apostolic Church” work in Nigeria without any hindrance, obstruction or molestation whatsoever.[36] This, consequently, gave the opportunity for the re-opening of the shut down assemblies of the defunct Nigerian Faith Tabernacle and license to conduct revival meetings, open-air crusades and the likes.

Among other works was the training of ministers. The pioneer resident missionaries opened an evening Bible School at their residence in Lagos with Pastor George Perfect as teacher. This Bible School remarkably emerged as the first Pentecostal Bible School in Nigeria. Among the first set of students were A.O. Awonuga, A.O. Ogunsanya, E.O. Onabajo, A.O. Pitan, A.O. Okunuga and J.L. Hanson (who all later became ordained into the office of pastor in TACN- with exception of Ogunsanya who was ordained an overseer)[37].    Significantly, these missionaries also devoted themselves to Bible Study with the natives for deeper understanding of sound biblical truths. They equally gave conducted tarrying meeting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit as one of the distinctive practices of the church as a Pentecostal denomination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 6: Plague of TACN National Headquarters at Ebute Metta where Pastors George Perfect * Idris Vaughan worked

 

 

 

Figure 7: The research team at TACN Lagos Area Headquarters, 42 Cemetery Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 8: Prototype of Ultra-Modern  TACN Lagos Area Headquarters  presently under construction

 

In 1933, the first ordination into the office of apostle was conducted by Pastor George Perfect, which was the first of its kind in the history of Nigerian Pentecostalism. As research unveiled, this was significantly the first formal/public ordination into the office of apostle in Nigeria. Hence, The Apostolic Church was the first denomination in Nigeria to emphasise on the restoration of the    five-fold offices listed in Ephesians 4:11 into Christian ministry, the chief among which is the office of apostle as the highest ascended church governmental gift-office.  The pioneer ordained indigenous apostles by The Apostolic Church’s authorities, who doubled as the first to occupy that office in the history of Nigerian Christianity were the seven indigenous founding fathers previously ordained by the apostleship from Great Britain into the office of pastor in 1931 – namely, J.B. Sadare, D.O. Odubanjo, J.A. Babatope, S.A. Mensah, E.G.L. Macaulay, I.B. Akinyele, and S.G. Adegboyega.  For the full realization of the complementary roles of Apostles and prophets in the practice of divine church government as one of the distinctive features of The Apostolic Church (to be discussed later)  I.G. Sakpo, the first fruit of the 1931 recipients of Holy Spirit Baptism with the gift of prophecy, was formally ordained into the office of prophet- thereby emerging as the first indigenous ordained prophet in then history of The Apostolic Church Nigeria.[38] Similarly, Joseph Ayo Babalola, the principal actor in the 1930 indigenous Pentecostal revival, was formally ordained into the office of evangelist – as the first ordained African evangelist in The Apostolic Church Nigeria. More African leaders were also called and ordained into the office of pastor the same year. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that while Joseph Ayo Babalola is popularly addressed today as an apostle, historical facts however revealed that he was not at any time formally ordained into the office of apostle either  by The Apostolic Church he belonged to till 1939 nor Christ Apostolic Church he later pioneered with Pastors Odubnajo and Akinyele in 1940. The office and title of apostle were posthumously arrogated to him by Africans based on his exhibited charisma in African  Pentecostalism which of course, frankly speaking, qualified him as an Apostle of Christ as was with Apostle Paul’s spiritual experience.

Thus from 1932 till after autonomy of The Apostolic Church Nigeria from Great Britain, there was the practice of sending resident European missionaries to Nigeria. These missionaries worked hand-in-hand with the indigenous leaders of the church for the expansion of The Apostolic Church work (this will be discussed in full in chapter 13 of this book).

That The Apostolic Church was not planted in Nigeria by the European missionaries but is rather a product of affiliation of an already existing indigenous church movement with the European body consequent upon the outcomes of the 1930 great indigenous Pentecostal revival in Nigeria is buttressed by the referred European Apostolic Church historian, Thomas Napier Turnbull in his book, What God Hath Wrought (A Short History of The Apostolic Church): He categorically states:

 

The extensive missionary work we have in Nigeria is because of revivals in which the work was born, nursed and fed into vigorous growth. The revival did not begin with the advent of The Apostolic Church missionaries, but the Holy Spirit had already commenced His work in some parts of the country a few years before through the instrumentality of others.  In those early years, literally thousands of people were converted, hundreds of people healed, and a work established.   When our missionaries arrived, they found many churches already opened.  These movements’ previous teaching had been of a strong fundamental character, they were outstandingly evangelical, believing strongly in Divine healing.[39]

 

However, it is pertinent to mention at this juncture that while the European resident missionaries’ labours in Nigeria in a great deal aided the expansion of  The Apostolic Church work in Nigeria, it on the other hand created some administrative challenges in some quarters among the pioneer African leaders of the church. In 1933, for easy coordination of all the assemblies of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, four administrative ‘Centres’  were created, which were  later upgraded in 1936  to the status of ‘Areas’ – an equivalence of ‘Dioceses’ in the Mainline churches (see chapter 12 for full discussion on the administration of TAC Nigeria).   Kabba, which was a District under Ilesa Area,   was after ten years (1947) upgraded to Area status, thus bringing the number of Areas to five.

By the arrangement of the International Missionary Centre of the church in Bradford, the  leading  resident European missionaries were to take over the superintendentship of the centres upon creation, while the pioneer African leaders were to work under their supervision.    This arrangement, as research revealed, did not go down well with some African indigenous pioneers of the church who considered it in the long run as the British stylishly taking over the church that they pioneered (contrary to their expectation upon affiliation and request for resident missionaries). This resulted into personality clashes and power tussle between some African leaders and the resident European missionaries as evident in the events that followed in 1933 (discussed below), the 1939/1940 popular ‘divine healing controversy and the emergence of Christ Apostolic Church’ (to be discussed in the next chapter), and the 1940 and 1946 schisms in the old Eastern Region of Nigeria.

 

Pastor Sadare’s Withdrawal from the Affiliation to Form Precious Stone Church with Headquarters in Ijebu-Ode (1933)

While Adegboyega informed in passing in his book that in 1933, shortly after the ordination into apostleship and the subsequent creation of four administrative centres, Pastor Sadare, who had been the overall African leader of the indigenous movement since 1918, withdrew from the affiliation with the European church. Consequently, the branch of T.A.C. at Alapo Street, Ijebu-Ode headed by Sadare (which was before used as the General Headquarters of F.T. in Nigeria)  was changed by him to Precious Stone Church. This church which also traces her origin to the 1918 prophetic-healing movement, Precious Stone Society, is acclaimed as one of the earliest African indigenous Pentecostal churches in Nigeria as a whole[40]. According to Adegboyega, Pastor Sadare withdrew on the grounds that he claimed:

… he had a vision whereby he was warned by the Lord not to join with any other religious organization, especially the one headed by European missionaries, of which The Apostolic Church was particularly concerned[41].

 

However, from scholarly perspective, the above claimed vision of Pastor Sadare could have been informed by some leadership and administrative challenges.

 

When the resident missionaries arrived in 1932, they took over leadership from Pastor Sadare – the well respected  National Leader of the church before affiliation, and thus, he lost due recognition as the overall leader of the church. Secondly, when the four administrative centres were created in 1933, Ijebu-Ode which before the arrival of the resident British missionaries was the National Headquarters of the defunct Nigerian Faith Tabernacle from where he (Sadare) was directing the affairs of the church, was left out, but rather put under Lagos Centre, which by arrangement became the new National Headquarters of the church in Nigeria – where the first resident British missionaries resided and presided over the church. From human angle, it is natural for Pastor Sadare to feel challenged, insecure and sidelined in a church where he had been acknowledged as overall leader before the arrival of the resident British missionaries. Possibly, Sadare thus considered it an insult for a man of  his status to be subjected to  taking instructions from the white missionaries whom himself, Pastor Odubanjo and other African pioneers of the church  invited to Nigeria only ‘to assist’ them, and ‘not to lead’ them or ‘take-over’ the control of their church administratively, financially and other-wise.

The scholarly view expressed above is to a large extent supported by the version of the story presented in the history of ‘Precious Stone Church’, founded by Pastor Sadare, immediately after his withdrawal from the affiliation:

 

Before the advent of the white-men, the Faith Tabernacle had contributed Missionary Fund to the tone of £208. The Treasurer of the society… was ordered to make arrangement to keep the money in the name of the society as the money was then growing large. A meeting was called, and Pastor Esinsin-Ade came to Lagos… Pastor George Perfect, the white-man prepared the documents going to the bank in the name of Apostolic Church. Pastor Esinsin-Ade refused to sign the document. He insisted that the document should be in the name of Precious Stone Church or Visitors Funds with the Society. All others did not agree with Esinsin-Ade. Only S.B. Ajayi was on Esinsin-Ade’s side. The whole show appeared treacherous to Esinsin-Ade and he left…, and Mr Ajayi too walked out of the meeting. All efforts to convince them to come back failed. This meant that The Apostolic Church …who came as visitors to the Diamond Society had in the long run assimilated cleverly a large portion of what should have been known since that time as the Precious Stone Church[42].

 

Thus, we can say that while the indigenous founding fathers truly requested for resident European missionaries from The Apostolic Church in Great Britain, they possibly did not expect that their arrival and stay in the country would lead to change in leadership composition, style, and structure. One mistake the indigenous founding fathers made was that they did not properly discuss the terms and conditions of operation of the resident missionaries with the International Missionary Centre in Bradford before their arrival. Such a previous deep discussion would have helped a long way to prevent or at least reduce tensions, divisions and bitterness among some African leaders against the resident European missionaries, who should have been seen and treated with respect as benefactors and mutual partners in God’s vineyard than competitors.

 

[1] S.G. Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria, Ibadan: Rosprint Press, pp.37-38

[2] Ibid. p. 37

[3]Ibid., p. 38

[4]Ibid., p. 38

[5] N/a (1931),  “Ethiopia’s Cry for Help” in Riches of Grace. (An official magazine of T.A.C. Great Britain.), May 1931, p.215

[6] Ibid., p. 39

[7] Ibid.p.40

[8] S.G. Adegboyega expresses in his book (Ibid.p.40) that great fears and doubts were created in the minds of Nigerian F.T .members that if they should allow them to come , they would send them back to idolatry.

[9] Adegboyega (Ibid), p.41

[10] This conference, according to S.G. Adegboyega, (ibid., p.41) was chaired by Pastor J.B. Sadare, while Pastor D.O. Odubanjo acted as secretary. This development with the ones earlier mentioned clearly suggest that general headship which Pastor A. Clarke once gave to Odubanjo during affiliation soon ceded back to Sadare, the original head before affiliation.

[11] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria, p.41

[12] Ibid., p. 44

[13] Pastor G.O. Olutola (2016), Interview Respondent, President, TACN. Interviewed October 2016

[14] N/a, “TAC Nigeria: Our Experience by TAC Uyo Field” , www.tacuyofield.org

 

[15] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria,  p. 48

[16] S.G. Adegboyega (1967), “The Adoption of The Apostolic Church as a Denominational Name in Nigeria”, Lagos: LAWNA,  p. 12

[17] TAC Penygroes, “ Souvenir of The Apostolic Church” – Issued in Commemoration of the Opening of The Apostolic Temple, Penygroes,  6 August 1933

[18]T.N. Turnbull (1959),  What God Hath Wrought (A Short  History of the Apostolic Church), Bradford: The Puritan Press Ltd.,  p.73

[19] Ibid.

[20] TAC Penygroes, “ Souvenir of The Apostolic Church” – Issued in Commemoration of the Opening of The Apostolic Temple, Penygroes,  6 August 1933.

[21] Turnbull (1959),  What God Hath Wrought (A Short  History of the Apostolic Church), .p.73) includes Ilesha and Kaduna in his list of places visited by the British delegates, but as confirmed by Adegboyega, in his eye-witness account (p.52), the missionaries, in an attempt ”to avoid chaotic commotion” due to the prevalent persecutions in those areas, acted on the advice of  the then European Political Commissioners under the Colonial Regime not to visit  the two places in question together with Calabar and other related areas.

[22] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria, p.110

 

[23]Ibid, p. 54

[24] S.G. Adegboyega (1967),  The Adoption of  T.A.C. as a Denominational Name in Nigeria, Lagos: Universal Printing Press,   p.11

[25] See S.E.A. Oludare (1999) “The Trio of C.A.C Founding Fathers: Odubanjo, Akinyele and Babalola”,  M.A. Dissertation, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of  Ibadan,  p.34. See also S.O. Omowole, “Healing and Exorcism in the Synoptic Gospel with Particular Reference to Miracles in The Apostolic Church,”  Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, 1994, p. 314.

[26] An excerpt from Adegboyega’s (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria) book pp. 56-60

[27] Ibid., p.61

[28] Ibid., p. 63

[29] See Ibid. p. 70.

[30] This controversy, according to Ayegboyin and Ishola (see I.D. Ayegboyin & S. A. Ishola (1997), African Indigenous Churches, Lagos: Greater Heights Publication, p. 77) and most C.A.C. authorities, was as a result of the use of quinine by the resident missionaries which the Africans sternly opposed on the grounds that it was against their doctrinal stance on divine healing. But as stressed by S.G. Adegboyega (1978), pp.87-97) divine healing controversy was only used as a cover up. The core of the matter, according to him, was a reaction to a charge of misappropriation of funds levelled against Pastor D.O. Odubanjo by the resident British missionary, of T.A.C. Nigeria, Pastor George Perfect.

[31] F.C. Okeremgbo (2014), “An Assessment of the Role of Augustus Ehuruieme Wogu in the Founding and    Consolidation of Assemblies of God in Nigeria, 1931-1974” – a PhD Thesis in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, pp. 104ff.

[32] See also F.C. Okeremgbo (2016), Augustus Ehuruieme Wogu: The Unsong Hero in the History of Assemblies      of God, Nigeria, Lagos: Rosan Ventures Ltd., pp. 85ff

[33] See “Faith Tabernacle Congregation, Nigeria” www.nigerialocal.com.ng  Accessed 5 June 2017

[34] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria, p. 36

[35] Ibid., pp. 63-64

[36] Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in  Nigeria, p. 68

[37] Ibid., p. 68

[38] Ibid., p. 72

[39] Turnbull (1959), What God Hath Wrought..., p. 79

[40]S.A. Fatokun  (2010), “ I Will Pour Out My Spirit Upon All Flesh”: The Origin,        Growth and Development of the Precious Stone Church – the Pioneering African Indigenous Pentecostal Denomination in South-western Nigeria”, No. 19, Online Journal – CyberJournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research, pp.1-19  http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/index.html

[41] Ibid., p.70

[42] N/a (n.d), A Short History of Precious Stone Church (Ijo Okuta-Iyebiye), Abeokuta: Jibolu Enterprises Nigeria Ltd., p. 14

Back to top