The Church of the Lord (Aladura) Worldwide
(Summary of the presentation by the Most Rev. Apostle G.O.S. Ositelu, Primate)
The Church was founded in 1930 by the late Josiah Ositelu who had a vision in 1925, when he was a Cathechist in the Anglican Mission. He began preaching in his hometown Ogere, 60 km from Lagos, where today the headquarters of the Church are located. "Aladura" is a Yoruba word which means "the praying people"; it is used to refer to a group of churches in Nigeria and West Africa, of which the Church of the Lord is the largest. The Church has spread across the borders of Nigeria to Sierra Leone, Ghana, Togo, UK, USA and Germany, hence the addition "worldwide" to its name.
In terms of doctrine and faith the Church of the Lord is not much different from any of the "mainline" or mission-founded churches. Its distinctive particularities are to be found in some of the rituals, the worship, the emphasis on the workings of the Holy Spirit, signs, prophetic guidance, healing and prayer. In all of this the Church is close to the African culture. In the words of the late Primate Dr Adejobi: "The Church of the Lord is not an opposing or a protesting church but a complementing and supplementing church whereby what the mission-founded churches have left out we add, and what they fail to appreciate we try to emphasize".
Water - cold water - plays an important role in the Church. A simple "altar" or shrine is found outside each church building where people bring water which is prayed over and used for healing. In front of this shrine is an open space for individual prayer. Worshippers take off their shoes and wash their feet before entering the church. During adoration every worshipper touches the ground with his or her forehead. The worship follows a certain liturgy which includes a time of "Praise and Worship" with spontaneous dancing and singing. Well-defined roles and places of pastors, prophets, bishops, apostles and the primate reflect a sense of hierarchy. Some of the ministers hold iron rods as staffs of office. They wear colourful garments while the people are dressed in white.
The Church of the Lord embraces the priesthood of women who have the same opportunities to be ordained as men. On the other hand, women must respect the Old Testament prescriptions about purity, which means that they are not allowed to approach the Holy Altar during their monthly period.
A unique festival of the Church of the Lord is the annual Tabierorar (Taborah). It began in 1937 when the late founder Primate Ositelu went into a secluded place to pray and fast for 13 days, and has been celebrated ever since. Thousands and thousands of people come together in the open air to receive divine blessings from the High Priest (the Primate) and to make vows to God for requests and favours desired.
The Church of the Lord is a member of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), the OAIC, the AACC and the WCC.
(Summary of the presentation by Rev. A.A. Bade, Pastor and Supreme Head)
The Celestial Church of Christ considers itself a church "born of the Holy Spirit" brought into being in the same manner as the first century church. Its founder Rev. Oshoffa was a Methodist lay person. He received the power of the Holy Spirit and began his preaching in 1947 after a period of three months in the forest and the appearance of an angel who commissioned him to teach people to rely on Jesus Christ alone. The Church believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and has completed the work of redemption. It is based on the Christian creed, the ordination of ministers and the sacraments. The Church also believes in the infallibility of the scriptures as the guide to the Kingdom of God and in the Holy Spirit as the enabling power of believers for divine life.
There are five ministries: pastor, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher. Prophecy is especially important; some are visoners, dreamers or divine voice hearers. Their role is to make known the will of God.
The liturgical worship consists of prayers, hymns, Bible reading and sermon, offerings and sacraments. The hymns of the Celestial Church have a special authority because they were composed by people inspired by the Holy Spirit; the hymn book contains the doctrine and teaching of the church. Worshippers take off their shoes and bow their heads three times, touching the ground with their forehead. They wear white garments (sign of the priesthood of all believers) and palm fronds. Clergy wear colourful garments. Holy water, incense and crosses are used in the service. Holy Communion is celebrated occasionally. The other two sacraments are baptism and marriage.
There is a special ritual for new members. They kneel down before a bucket of water, holding a candle stick which is lightened by a priest who says prayers of forgiveness and sanctification. The new member then takes a bath with the water that is in the bucket. After that he/she receives Christian education to begin the journey to holiness. The Church places great emphasis on holiness and total separation from anything that is considered evil. All members must be baptized at an appropriate time; those coming from other denominations receive a second baptism because they have been polluted. Lay members can follow continuous Bible teaching and education.
The Church does not oblige polygamous new members to divorce their wives. Clergy can also remain polygamous.
The Lord Jesus Christ has established the Celestial Church for the salvation of mankind and to cleanse the world from all satanic influences. To this end the Church is clothed with enormous spiritual power. Miracles are a common feature.
The Church is a member of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the OAIC. It believes that all denominations must unite.
(Summary of presentation by President Tchotche Mel Félix of the National Harrist Committee of Ivory Coast)
The theological foundation of "Harrism" is the Ultimate Alliance or "Black Easter" sealed in the encounter between Jesus Christ and Simon of Cyrene. The assimilation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ with the body and blood of Simon, the elected black man, at the ultimate moment before the crucification manifests God's alliance with the black continent. The Harrist Church is the fruit of God's promise to the black people. The Prophet Harris is the incarnation of Simon of Cyrene, sowing the African Christian faith.
The Harrist Church has as its foundation Jesus Christ crucified and risen and baptizes in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the only reference and basis of the doctrine taught by the Prophet. The vision of the Church is that of a world in which white and black are equal "and eating from the same dish". Baptism, Holy Communion and Marriage are the three sacraments. Holy Communion (using local ingredients) is celebrated during the Christian feast days and on some other occasions, always outside the church. Polygamy of new converts is accepted but clergy can only have one spouse.
In each local church there is a college of twelve apostles (Acts 6:1-6) who are lay people. The preachers are chosen from among the apostles; they can have the title of supreme, superior, chief or ordinary preacher. Elders are chosen from among the members of the congregation and serve as advisers to the apostles. Cantors are in charge of the singing. Other recognized functions are guards, bell ringers, cleaners and candle lightners (three candles are always kept burning during the entire worship, symbolizing the Holy Trinity).
The National Harrist Committee was created in 1960 to be in charge of the administration and institutions of the Church. The Spiritual Head of the Church is the Supreme Preacher Cessi Koutouan Jacob; he succeeded in 1992 the late John Ahui who had received in 1928 from the hands of the Prophet the task of continuing his mission.
(Summary of presentation by Prophet G.O. Fakeye, General Leader, Cherubim and Seraphim Church Movement)
The Church has seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, penitence, eucharist, marriage, ordination and annointing or onction. Ordination is into one of the five ministries: pastor, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher.
The place of worship consists of the Temple, built in the form of a cross, which is used solely for prayer, and the Church Hall for divine services and meetings. In the Temple there are no benches or chairs. Footwear is not allowed, neither in the Temple nor in the Church Hall. Palmfronds are used to make crosses or to sprinkle blessed water. The corpses of the deceased are not brought into the church.
The organisation of the Church is hierarchical and centralized. At the basis are "bands" of 20, 50 or 100 persons; these are groups formed for grassroots administration, spiritual teaching, counselling and prayer (originally, Cherubim and Seraphim was a movement of prayer bands). The Head of the Church is the "Olori". Women have the same rights and positions as men, except that they must observe the rules of purity during their menstruation period. There is no strict position on polygamy/monogamy, although monogamy is generally favoured.
The practices and observances reflect the way things are done in normal everyday African culture. The similarities between African and Jewish culture make it easy to find justification in the Bible.The Cherubim and Seraphim churches are presently divided into five main streams: 1) Eternal Sacred Order of C & S, 2) C & S Society, 3) Praying Band, 4) Sacred Order and 5) Holy Order of C & S Movement, plus a number of smaller churches. Steps towards unification are currently being taken and are already bearing fruits. A secretariat for the unification of all segments is in place. To enhance this development seminaries and theological colleges are being established.
The African Church of the Holy Spirit confesses the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ who died and rose again for the salvation of humankind. It believes in the Scriptures as the supreme rule of faith and life and accepts the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed as containing the substance of faith of the Church. The Church practices baptism in the Holy Spirit of adult persons upon repentance. The Holy Communion is not celebrated because the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer takes the place of the Eucharist as a constant remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church believes in dreams, visions and prophecy and takes African culture and tradition positively. For example the African concepts of a single supreme God and life after death are similar to those of Christianity and help in explaining the gospel to the people. Non-Christian aspects of African culture such as worshipping idols are rejected.
The Church is led by a High Priest and has the ministry of pastors ordained into the priesthood. Its ordination is not always recognized by the mainline churches in Kenya. A few pastors have received formal theological training in institutions of the mainline churches. The laity take an active part in the mission of the church. Mission consists of preaching of the gospel and Christian education. There are departments for Youth and Women's work. Women can be ordained but do not use the same altar when ministering as the men and mostly conduct worship services for women. Women must observe the OT regulations about menstruation. Few if any positions of leadership are open to them. However the church is aware that some of the old observances are outdated and that it must adapt to the rapid changes in society.
The Church is different from other independent churches in Kenya in that it has not had an active part in the struggle for political independence. Yet many of its members were imprisoned and tortured during the struggle and one leader prophesized in prison that "the white man will go back home says the Lord". In the present socio-political situation the Church tries to speak out for justice and peace.
The African Church of the Holy Spirit seeks to nurture good relationships with the mainline churches. It is a member of the National Council of Churches in Kenya, the AACC, the WCC and the OAIC.
(Summary of presentation by Dr Bena-Silu, Director of Cabinet of the Spiritual Chief)
The Church of Jesus Christ on Earth by his Special Messenger Simon Kimbangu began as a movement of Christian awakening in 1921, in West Zaire. Simon Kimbangu, who was a Baptist, started his ministry when he healed a young woman in his native village Nkamba by praying and laying on of hands. Many other miraculous healings followed and thousands of people were attracted to Nkamba every day. Simon Kimbangu never baptized new converts but sent them to the nearest missionary stations. The missionaries were divided about the movement. The most hostile reaction came from the Roman Catholic Church. As Kimbangu's popularity grew immensily, and as he preached that the time would come when the Blacks would be freed by God from foreign domination, he became a threat for the colonial government. In a concerted move of protestant and catholic missionaries and the authorities he was arrested and jailed. He was condemned to death but the sentence was commuted into life imprisonment by the Belgian King. All of this happened in 1921. Simon Kimbangu died in prison in 1951.
After Kimbangu's arrest his wife Muile Marie took over the movement which went underground. She and her three sons were bitterly persecuted by the Belgians. The movement was banned and its members were subject to deportation. It is estimated that between 1921 and 1957 about 150 000 Kimbanguist were deported. In 1959 the youngest of the three sons, Joseph Diangienda, was asked by a general assembly to be the Head of the newly formed Church. He built the Kimbanguist Church as it stands today.
The Church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the latter being understood as both a divine power and a full person like the Father and the Son). The Bible is the sole authority on matters of faith. The Ten Commandments are read and taught every day. The Church adheres to the Nicene Creed. It has four sacraments: baptism (by laying on of hands), eucharist, marriage and ordination. The clergy consist of ordained men and women without any discrimination. Women pastors perform every sacrament without restriction.
The Eucharist is only celebrated three times a year: at Christmas, on 6th April (beginning of Kimbanguist movement) and 12th October (death of Simon Kimbangu). The elements are a cake of potatoes and eggs and honey water. Once blessed the cake and water are believed to instantly transform into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Kimbanguists submit to a very strict moral code of conduct. They are strictly monogamous, do not bath or sleep naked and abstain from smoking and alcohol. Shoes are taken off in every place of worship and women and girls cover their hair. The Church is fully self-supporting financially through the system of offering "by competition".
The Kimbanguist Church is a member of the AACC, WCC and OAIC. It has over 7 million members, in Zaire, Central Africa and overseas.
(Summary of presentation by the President, His Divine Grace, Prophet of the Highest, Baba Aladura Dr Olapade Olapade-Agoro).
The Aladura movement has grown by leaps and bounds and can now be found all over Nigeria as well as in many West African countries, in Europe and the USA.
Letters and memoranda of the colonial authorities in the 1930's show that the Aladura churches were looked at with great distrust and suspicion and were considered dangerous enemies of the colonial power. Faced with these challenges to their faith and communion, in particular also by the mission-founded churches, the Aladura churches felt the need for a united front. A first attempt in 1931 did not have any lasting results. In 1964 the Association as it presently exists was formed. It has now over 1200 member churches. Each Church has its own organisational structures. The Association has Chapters in each State and each Chapter is organised in zones. At the national level it is headed by a President who is also Chairman of the General Conference and the Executive Council. The Association runs socio-cultural and educational programmes on issues such as the role of women, family planning, church growth and development, youth camps etc. In recent years it has twice organised International Merit Award ceremonies.
(Summary of presentation by the President, His Most Eminence Baba Aladura Dr G.I.M. Otubu, Head of the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Church)
In 1987 a first attempt was made to set up a Nigeria Region of the OAIC. At the invitation of Rev. Babs Mala of the Christ Apostolic Church representatives of various churches met in Ibadan. At this meeting a mandate was given for the organisation to be registered and a Board of Trustees was appointed. The intention was to open a secretariat in Ibadan. However it became soon clear that for churches in other parts of Nigeria Ibadan was not an acceptable location. Attendance at meetings was disappointing, except from churches of the region. Moreover funds were not available to sustain the payment of the rent of the office space. The Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim then asked that the offices be shifted to Lagos and offered free secretariat and services to the organisation.
Another difficulty was that according to the Constitution of the OAIC any independent church could register directly with the international body in Nairobi. This meant that many of the OAIC member churches in Nigeria prefered to organise themselves independently and saw no reason to be affiliated with the Nigeria Region. There was disagreement about the competence of the organisation. The result was that the collective movement of African Instituted Churches in Nigeria remained weak and confused, and that the relations with Nairobi were not functioning well.
In 1991 the Enlarged Executive Committee of the OAIC decided to recognize officially eight regions in Africa, one of them being Nigeria. In 1995 the Executive Committee took a further step by proposing that in future an AIC wishing to become a member of the OAIC would be able to do so only through the region. The wisdom of the decision is that the region can now function with authority to organise the AICs in the area of its jurisdiction. The Nigeria Region has plans for a vigorous campaign to increase its membership, which stands presently at 25 churches. It is also considering to foster unity among the many smaller AICs at local or state level.
The OAIC Nigeria Region is one of the five main groups that make up the Christian Association of Nigeria which is the body fully recognized by the Government as the voice of the Christians in the country.
(Summary of presentation by the Rev. S.T. Doku of the Healing Hand of God Mission)
The Council of Independent Churches works closely with the Christian Council of Ghana and the Roman Catholic Church. In recent years the relationships with the Muslims have been of special concern. The cause of conflicts between Christians and Muslims has been in almost all cases intolerance, which is to be found on both sides. The Council of Independent Churches does what it can to teach pastors in its member churches to preach only Christ and his saving power. Together with the CCG, the RCC and the Muslim bodies the Council is involved in local Conflict Committees which have the task to solve tensions before these detoriate into confrontation.
The independent churches ary very active in evangelism. The Council is supporting the work of the Bible Society of Ghana. The Council is also concerned with the economic hardships of the people and the fragile political situation in the country.
(Summary of presentation by Rev. Comfort Ruth Paha, Director of the Church Relations, Theology and Research Department)
The Christian Council of Ghana was founded in 1929. It has currently 14 member churches. The YWCA and YMCA are affiliated members. The Council is organised in four Departments: 1) Church Relations, Theology and Research, 2) Church and Society, 3) Development and Environment and 4) Finance and Administration.
The Church Relations, Theology and Research Department is among other things responsible for ecumenical, inter-church and inter-faith programmes.
The CCG consciously and actively seeks to foster relationships with non member churches. With the Roman Catholic Church there is a Committee of Cooperation. With other churches the CCG cooperates through their established councils: the Ghana Pentecostal Council, the Council of Charismatic Churches and the Council of Independent Churches. The fellowship of ecumenism goes beyond the Christian churches to the Federation of Muslim Councils of Ghana and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission.
The CCG's relationship with non member churches is best demonstrated in the Council's interaction with the Local Councils of Churches which can be found in most towns and villages throughout the country. The membership of these LCCs is often broader than that of the CCG, which makes it possible to bring the programmes of the CCG to the majority of the people, to foster ecumenical activities and disseminate ecumenical information. In dealing with the LCCs much attention is given to the doctrinal differences between their member churches.
One very important issue of concern for the CCG is the refusal of some clergy and laity to admit certain AICs to the Local Council, because of objections to their doctrines and practices. Some AICs are considered syncretistic and occultist. These are sensitive issues which have to be handled with the utmost care and respect for everyone's faith, opinion and practice.
The Christian Council of Ghana is an associate council of the World Council of Churches.
(Summary of presentation by Rev. Lambert N'cho, President of the Church).
The history of the Protestant Methodist Church goes back to the work of evangelism in Ivory Coast by the Prophet William Wade Harris in 1913-1914. In spite of the difficulties of language and culture and the fact that he only had a Bible in English he converted and baptized many people. He prophetized that soon after him the missionaries would come to continue his work. The first British Methodist missionary arrived in 1924, from Dahomey. He found the groups of Harrist converts and organised them in Christian communities. This is how the Methodist Church in Ivory Coast began, under the authority of the British Methodist Mission. Later on it became a District of the Methodist Church in Great Britain. In 1985 the Church received its autonomy and took the name of Protestant Methodist Church in Ivory Coast. At the same time it became a full member of the World Council of Churches.
The Church has the same doctrine and organisation as other Methodist churches. Its priorities are: formation of the people of God, evangelism, youth, women, and the presence of the Church in society. Today the Protestant Methodist Church has close to one million members in 747 parishes, with only 72 pastors of whom 3 are women. One of the greatest problems is the lack of qualified pastors.
A major effort is being made to make the Bible available in all the local languages (officially 60 in Ivory Coast). For the year 2000 the objective is to have at least 95 pastors, 50 evangelists and a decentralisation of the church administration to the rural and mission areas. The fundamental question for the Church is how to translate the gospel for the majority of the people who maintain the traditional customs and practices, including many Christians. Is it necessary to reject all traditions or can certain positive realities which are not contrary to the gospel serve as means to express the word of God? The Protestant Methodist Church is concerned with the proclamation of the gospel in the midst of a people who live in an established culture. That culture must be known so that the gospel can become integrated into the society. The time of taboo's and interdictions is gone. Our time is one of appraoch, study, mutual listening and tolerance, while affirming the specificity of the gospel. In the past we were the Protestant Methodist Church in Ivory Coast, now we are the Protestant Methodist Church of Ivory Coast.
The Protestant Methodist Church of Ivory Coast is a member of the WCC.
(Summary of the presentation by the Very Rev. Dr Akanu Alu Otu, former Moderator)
The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria is celebrating this year (1996) the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionaries, who came from Jamaica and Scotland. The church became autonomous in 1960. Today it has over one million members in 200 parishes which are organised in 28 Presbyteries, 4 Synods and a General Assembly.
According to the Declaratory Articles, the church is part of the Holy Catholic or Universal Church, worships one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and affirms its belief in the grace and love of God through Jesus Christ his only Son. The church acknowledges the Word of God, contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, to be the supreme rule of faith and life. The PCN holds as its subordinate standard the Westminster Confession of Faith "recognizing liberty of opinion on such points of doctrine as do not enter into the substance of the faith, and claiming the right, in dependence on the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit, to formulate, interpret or modify its subordinate standards, always in agreement with the Word of God and the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith contained in the said confession - of which the Church shall be the sole judge".
The individual congregations and parishes of the PCN constitute one Church. The PCN is governed by Presbyters (Ruling Elders and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament) who come together in governing bodies, namely the Session, the Presbytery, the Regional Synod and the General Assembly. Decisions are reached by majority vote after discussion. A higher governing body has the right to review and control a lower one and the power to determine matters of controversy. Shared power and responsibility sustain mutual relationships which express the unity of the Church. In the principles of governance it is stated that the origins of the Church are in the Reformation of John Calvin and John Knox.
In 1965 the Presbyterian Synod agreed to enter into church union with the Methodists and Anglicans to form "The Church of Nigeria". Due to Methodist withdrawal in 1966 the church union scheme failed.
The unity in Christ Jesus enables and requires the PCN to be open to persons of all races, ethnic groups, ages, gender, various disabilities, diverse geographical areas and different theological positions consistent with the Reformed tradition, who shall be guaranteed full participation and access to representation in the decision making process of the various governing bodies of the Church. Since 1981 the ordained ministry is open to women.
The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria is a member of the CCN, World Alliance of Reformed Churces (WARC), AACC and WCC.
(Summary of the presentation by the Rt. Rev. A.A. Omodunbi, Secretary of Conference)
Methodist Church Nigeria is that part of World Methodism which in 1962 was constituted an autonomous Methodist Church whose governing body is the Nigeria Conference. It is the oldest Christian denomination in the country.
Methodist Church Nigeria shares with "all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ both their Lord and ours" and by immediate kinship with the World Methodist Church, the heritage as well as the privilege of being in her own locality of Nigeria a presence of the ONE HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH. It rejoices in the inheritance of the Apostolic Faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread Scriptural Holiness through the land by the proclamation of the Evangelical Faith, based upon the Divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scripture. These Evangelical Doctrines to which the preachers of the Methodist Church are pledged are contained in the Wesley's Notes on the New Testament and the first four volumes of his sermons.
The Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and two types of ministry, ordained and lay. It holds the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The grace of priesthood is communicated and bestowed through the Church, upon individuals according to differentiations of spiritual gifts. In the exercise of the corporate life and worship of the church special qualifications for the discharge of special duties are required and thus the principle of representative selection is recognised. For the sake of church order the ministers are set apart by ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacraments.
The structure of Methodist Church Nigeria consists of the Local Churches, the Circuits, the Dioceses, the Archdioceses and the Methodist Conference as the overall legislative and governing body. At present there are 34 Dioceses spread throughout Nigeria. In the recent past considerable efforts have been made in the area of structure and governance to ensure its identity as a Nigerian Church. Distinct liturgy patterns have been developed with particular emphasis on the Nigerian context.
Methodist Church Nigeria seeks and will always strive to share Christian fellowship and take part in every exercise of demonstrating and promoting Christian unity, especially in the local setting of Nigeria and through the Church Union Negociation Movement. It endeavours to make a positive contribution of love in the spirit of fellowhsip so that the curse of Babel which bedevils the whole Church in the world today may be removed and that perpetual Pentecost, a oneness of spirit, may prevail.
The Methodist Church Nigeria is a member of the CCN, the World Methodist Council (WMC), AACC and WCC.
(Summary of the presentation by Rev. Dr S. Ola Fadeji, General Secretary)
Church government is congregational. Each local congregation is autonomous or self-governing. The Convention recognises the autonomy of each local Baptist church cooperating with the Convention under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Each believer has the right and the possibility to participate in decision making, through the boards and committees at the various levels of organisation.
The Convention recognises the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God and our Saviour as the Head of His Church and the New Testament teachings as the sole authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice. Each church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit has the liberty to interpret the teachnings of the Holy Bible and administer its laws responsibly within the Baptist historic faith. Baptism is a prerequisite of the privileges of church membership and admission to the Lord's Supper.
The Convention considers monogamy as the ideal state of family life according to the New Testament. No known polygamists are allowed membership in the churches, to hold office, to serve as lay preachers or to participate in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. This rule also applies to persons known to be a member of a secret society.
Baptism is done by immersion into water. It is preceded by a conversion experience and a public confession of faith. Candidates for baptism follow an intensive period of study of four to six month in an enquirer's class. The Convention affirms the universal priesthood of all believers.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention has many institution (Seminary, Bible Colleges, hospitals, schools) and several departments for specialized work (e.g. education, mission and evangelism, women, youth etc.).
The Nigerian Baptist Convention is a member of the CCN and the WCC.
The history, doctrine and polity of the Anglican Church are well known. It is therefore not necessary to repeat these here.
It is the desire of the Church of Nigeria that this country should have the "abundant life" that Christ promised all by his coming. In order to make Nigeria truly great all the resources of the country must be tapped to develop her potentials. In this vein the Church of Nigeria regards members of other churches (the established, pentecostal, evangelical and independent) not just as collective members of the society but as members of the Body of Christ. We believe that every Church as long as it is a living member of the Body of Christ, is evangelical, pentecostal and independent.
To this end we believe in the teaching of the Holy Spirit that we should be one. The Church of Nigeria is a leading member of the Christian Council of Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria. In partnership with other member churches of these organisations, the Church of Nigeria helps to alleviate suffering and poverty and so to liberate the children of God from the power of darkness. We share with others that the basic way of meeting human needs, be it spiritual or material, and sharing of fellowship with God, is through the preaching of the gospel.
This meeting is taking place in the land of Ogun State, the gateway to Egba, the cradle of Christianity in Nigeria. So, visit Abeokuta before you leave.
(Summary of the presentation by the Rt. Rev. Njeru Wambugu, Acting General Secretary)
The second conference in 1982 was attended by AICs representatives from 17 countries. The conference approved a Constitution which required member bodies to be trinitarian, based on the New and Old Testaments and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In terms of organization the constitution was largely inspired by the model of WCC and AACC which proved not to be suitable for the OAIC. Ultimate authority was placed in a General Assembly to be called every three (four) years and churches could apply directly for membership without prior regional approval. The OAIC was totally lacking the financial and staff resources to implement adequately such constitutional requirements. The conference sought to establish an AIC identity, refusing to be associated with any of the church camps in Africa: ecumenical (AACC), evangelical (AEAM) of conservative (ICCC).
In spite of its shortcomings the 2nd conference stimulated conciliarism among AICs. Several new national and regional bodies came into existence. The international headquarters were established in Nairobi in 1981-84. The TEE programme continued to spread through the continent and became the support structure of the organization. As of 1990 three new departments were set up: Rural Development, Women and Research and Communication.
In 1990 Bishop Markos resigned because of increasingly strained relationships with the AIC leaders. This led initially to a crisis with the Coptic Orthodox Church which has since been overcome. In the same period OAIC conducted a serious review which resulted in the report "The Way Forward" approved in June 1995. The focus of the changes recommended is on regionalization. This means in particular that the organization will be structured in 7 regions, that member churches will first adhere to one of the OAIC regions and that the General Assembly will be composed of regional representatives. The internal administration will be re-organized in order to ensure that the regions are reached effectively. Since 1982 the OAIC has not been able to hold another conference. It is now proposed that a reduced General Assembly be convened in November 1996 to implement the proposed changes.
The OAIC has made a signifant shift in the direction of a more ecumenical profile. This is due to two factors: the continuing suspicion of many evangelicals towards AICs and the increasing self-confidence of AICs in their own identity.
(Summary of presentation by Mr. C.O. Williams, General Secretary)
The Christian Council of Nigeria traces its origins back to 1929. Today it has twelve member churches, two of which are large AICs: the Church of the Lord (Aladura) and the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim. The recently revised Constitution of the CCN stipulates that in order to be a member a Church must 1) worship one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 2) accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, 3) have an established organisation, 4) teach its members the Christian way of life and exercise Christian discipline, and 5) be prepared to work in cooperation with other member churches.
Besides the member churches, six recognised Christian organisations are affiliated member bodies of CCN.
Two important activities of the CCN are the Literature Department and the Institute of Church and Society, both at Ibadan. The Council is organised in three major area committees which are each sub-divided into three smaller entities. The costs involved in bringing people together may oblige the Council to further de-centralize.
The CCN is one of the founding members of CAN, the Christian Association of Nigeria which was set up in 1976. Besides CCN, CAN comprises the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, two Pentecostal Fellowships, the OAIC-Nigeria Region and TEKAN/EKWA Fellowship. CAN is therefore the most representative Christian body in the country.
(Summary of presentation by Rev. Julius Sarwolo Neldon, member of AACC General Committee)
The AACC was established in 1963, as a fellowship of Christian Churches which confess Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures. The goals of the AACC are: 1) to highlight the demands of the gospel to Churches and National Christian Councils, especially in the areas of evangelism, witness, service and unity; 2) to provide for study and research; 3) to encourage closer relations and sharing among African churches; 4) to assist churches in the sharing of personnel and other resources; 5) to promote leadership training.