Updated 29 October 2019
Linked with Pacong - South Sudan, Kutigi - Nigeria, Southern Nyanza - Kenya, Ijesha North - Nigeria, Karnataka Central - South India
Ijesha North - Nigeria
The diocese of Ijesa is situated in south west Nigeria beyond the south-flowing River Niger. The area consists of coastal plains, interior plains and some highlands. This is a major area of agriculture producing cocoa, kolanut, maize, rice, yams and cassava. Cocoa is the leading non-oil foreign exchange earner but due to smallholdings and lack of labour, output isn’t as high as it could be. Oil palms also seem to be grown and there are wood processing plants in the north and on the coast. The population here are a sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba who historically were extensively involved with the slave trade. Christianity was reborn with the return of freed slaves in the mid-19th century when CMS was active. Now they trade food products with western and northern Nigeria.
THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA
Nigeria is the second largest province in the Anglican Communion (*see comment below) measured by baptised membership – 18 million out of a national population of 140 million. From 2002 following a decade of evangelism there were 161 dioceses in 3 provinces each with an archbishop. The Primate is Archbishop Nicholas Okah.
Christianity first came to Nigeria from Portugal in the 15 century, but the Anglican Church was established in 1842. In 1864, an ethnic Yoruba and former slave, Samuel Ajayi Crowther became the first black bishop in the Anglican Communion.
In 2000, Archbishop Peter Akinola met with 400 bishops, priests, lay members and significantly, members of the Mothers’ Union to produce a vision statement:
“The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) (*see comment below) shall be: Bible-based, spiritually dynamic, united, disciplined, self-supporting, committed to pragmatic evangelism, social welfare and a Church that epitomizes the genuine love of Christ.”
In 2005 the church-owned Ajayi Crowther University was granted a license to operate as a private university.
* The Church of Nigeria has continuously opposed the more liberal inclinations of the Anglican Church. It has reworded its constitution omitting the expression ‘in communion with the See of Canterbury’. It remains in communion with “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Discipline, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Its links are now similar to those of the Church in Kenya disassociating with liberal Anglican Churches.
MOTHERS’ UNION - NIGERIA
The Mothers’ Union in Nigeria was founded in 1908 and now has over 100,000 members. It is crucial in promoting and supporting the interests of women in a country where population groups are varied and the culture very hierarchical. There are particular problems in the north where Islam is widespread and Shariah Law is predominant, resulting in persecution. “A great sense of empowerment is given to the many women involved in Mothers’ Union projects in their communities.”
Most dioceses have their own Community Development Co-ordinator. These women engage with their local communities supporting family life and encouraging parents. They cover a wide variety of concerns – income generation, literacy, and saving skills, care for the sick and elderly, widows’ welfare schemes, agricultural training and provision, youth development and health education.
The Mothers’ Union Parenting programme has dedicated trainers trained in the UK mostly based in the Lagos West Diocese. They train locally based facilitators.
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