Historical Background

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Saturday, 05 September 2015 15:52

All Saints' Church came into being in August 1959, but its origins go back several years before this, and at least three groups of people or organizations were involved.

Since 1952 a non-denominational Sunday School had been growing in the Jericho area of Ibadan, meeting at first in a room on the old university site, later in a private house, and finally in the School of Forestry. This grew from a membership of seven children in 1952 to nearly a hundred by 1959. About one-third of the children were expatriates. In 1956, evening services in English were started in the chapel of the Letmauk Barracks, Eleyele, by the chaplain attached to the 2nd and 5th Battalions of the Queen's Own Nigeria Regiment, as it then was. One of the aims of this service was to reach the civilian expatriate members of the community who had not attached themselves to any of the local churches. A small congregation was built up, but when the army was no longer able to post a chaplain to Ibadan, this soon disintegrated.

During the same period, a small group of Christians had been meeting in private homes for prayer and bible study. This group included those responsible for the running of the Sunday School. Several members of this group had, from time to time, discussed the need for a church in the district which would bring together Europeans and Nigerians who used English as their language of every-day speech.

The First Five Years, page 3 states as follows:
In 1958 the former Army Chaplain returned to Ibadan under the Church Missionary Society as chaplain to the Bishop of Ibadan, and once more associated himself with this group. In 1959, at a meeting of parents of children attending the Sunday school, about 30 people signified their interest in such a church, and a steering committee was formed with the Bishop's Chaplain, the Rev. H. W. Mance, as Chairman. The name "All Saints' " was chosen as symbolizing the interdenominational nature of the venture, and it was decided to hold services according to the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian forms.

All Saints' has continued to maintain its interdenominational nature. At the laying of the foundation of the building of All Saints' Church on 1 November 1962, the four stones were laid by the Rt Rev. S.O. Odutola (Anglican), the Rev. Dr. E. Bolaji Idowu (Methodist), the Rev. J. Gardiner (Presbyterian) and the Rev. T.A. Adejumobi, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria. Each of the representations is significant.

All Saints' Church, Ibadan is thus a venture in united Christian worship and witness. It has been founded under God by Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Christians to give an opportunity for English-speaking people to worship together in accordance with the forms of service followed by these denominations.

Of the self-appointed steering committee of sixteen which ran the affairs of the Church from July 1959 to April 1960, the Rev. J. W. D. Simonson and the Rev. Dr. Rex Gardiner were on the staff of Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan; Simeon Bankole - Wright, at that time the Chief Social Welfare Officer in the Western Region, resumed association with All Saints' after retirement and theological studies in the USA where he had been ordained into the priesthood of the Presbyterian Church. The first Secretary was Mr. J. E. M. Horne, the first Treasurer Mr. E.W. Caudwell. Nevertheless in its first twenty-five years, All Saints' Church had a full-time minister only for about eight years.

The venture in united Christian worship and witness which was embarked upon at All Saints' in 1959 was within the following national Christian context: the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church in Nigeria were drawing to the conclusion of some long years of church union negotiations. The starting of a congregation like All Saints' would therefore not create any ecclesiastical problems. In so many years time, the Church would simply become one of the congregations of the Church of Nigeria. Church union negotiations, unfortunately, were broken off just about a week to the date set for inauguration in December, 1965. And yet the committee of All Saints' Church, Jericho, Ibadan, given the opportunity to revise the rules of the Church in May 1966, reaffirmed its faith in a venture of united Christian worship and witness.

All Saints' began in the hall of the Federal School of Forestry, Jericho, Ibadan as an English-speaking church for people who lived in the residential areas of Jericho Reservation, Links Reservation, New Reservation and Moor Plantation. They were mainly expatriate whites.

In 1984 when All Saints' celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, Prince G. A. Ademiluyi was the oldest member of the Church. He recalled how in 1952, as an officer in the Nigerian Civil Service in Lagos, he was transferred to Ibadan when the three regions - North, East and West - were created. He had transferred his church membership from the Cathedral Church of Christ in Lagos to St. James's Cathedral in Ibadan. He was then in government quarters in Jericho.

He recalled how his connection with All Saints' began. The Rev. H. W. Mance used to make pastoral visits in the Jericho area, riding on his auto cycle. He invited him to join the congregation of All Saints' in the neighborhood, Since he was already a member of St. James's Cathedral, he saw no reason why he could not join the fellowship of All Saints', at least for the evening service. There were, at that time, only about ten Nigerians in the congregation. He was soon made the Assistant People's Warden.

Prince Ademiluyi did not immediately cease to be a member of St. James's Cathedral as the transition to membership of All Saints' took place gradually. The evening service emphasis of All Saints' left people free to fulfill their membership obligations in other churches in the mornings. Justice & Mrs Ogunkeye retained their membership of Agbeni Methodist Church which dated from the early forties.

The building in the School of Forestry where services were held until the opening of the Church building in 1963 was used for Sunday School on Sunday mornings: it was available for services only in the evenings. All Saints' then was an evening service church until the choir started featuring at morning service in 1971. Before 1971 it was only in the evening that services at All Saints' had the privilege of the full choir.

The Oyelolas had lived in Bodija Estate since 1960 (and still live at that end of town) - about seven kilometres from All Saints'. The Ademiluyis moved to the same end of town. The Ejiwunmis, too, have been resident in Bodija Estate since about 1960 while the Uche Omos, the Ighomerehos, the Oluwoles still lived in the Jericho Reservation in 1984. All Saints' could therefore no longer be considered a neighborhood Church. Members were resident in Ring Road, University College Hospital, the Polytechnic, the University. They took membership in All Saints' in order to find a congenial congregation - interdenominational (Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian) and English - speaking. Engineer Diyaolu (Methodist), who had joined St. Savior’s Church in Lagos upon his return from studies in Britain, appreciated the relatively brief service in All Saints' - just one hour instead of the one and a half or longer in parish churches in town, extending to three on festival days. Some others liked the absence of the demands of church societies - on one's money and time!
Yet others, like J. O. Afolabi as an example, joined the church after graduating from the University of Ibadan because it was the closest in character to what they had been used to at the University Chapel of the Ressurection. A. O. Falase wrote thus in 1980:
"When I came to this Church, I found it to be simple, clean and nice. The singing was good; there was no ostentatious display of wealth by members and the atmosphere was congenial for conscientious worship and meditation ...Above all, I found that most of my colleagues who were with me in the same choir at the university in the early sixties under Professor Ferguson had, as it were, migrated to All Saints"

The Ighodalos became members of All Saints' from the Secretariat. Before joining All Saints', they used to attend St Stephen's Church Inalende. They liked the ecumenical character of All Saints' and would like to see continuous adherence to the decision of the Church to ensure a 3:2: 1 ratio of Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian services in the quarterly roster.

All Saints' depends a lot on guest preachers to maintain this ratio. The chaplains at All Saints' were part-time (H. W. Mance: Bishop's chaplain and All Saints', 1959-71) or tent making (S. O. Adesina: school teacher, civil servant and All Saints' 1972-83), Rev. Lapese Ladipo (teacher/school principal, All Saints' 1983; full-time from August 1984)

Over 70 different people conducted services at All Saints' from 1959 up to the dedication in 1964. Of these, 20 were laymen. The practice - of inviting visiting preachers - has continued to this day.

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