The Apostolic Church

A congregation of The Apostolic Church in northern Nigeria
A congregation of The Apostolic Church in northern Nigeria. Photo: Ed Kashi VIIPHOTO

The Apostolic Church, founded between the years 1904 and 1905, the church had had branches over Nigeria, U.S.A., France, and the U.K., since the early 1940s. The Apostolic Church arrived in Nigeria in September 23 1931 through missionary delegates from the United Kingdom: D.P. Williams, A. Turnbull, and W.J Williams. Their journey to Nigeria that year was in response to an invitation from leaders of the Great Revival in the Nigerian church. Presiding pastor of the Faith Tabernacle in Ebute Metta, D.O. Odubanjo had four months earlier written a letter on behalf of the Faith Tabernacle Congregation of Nigeria, requesting for help from the church in Philadelphia to send workers who will take charge of the supervision of thousands of souls, seeds of the revival championed by Ayo Babalola and likes, who were at that moment like sheep without a shepherd. It is not clear if the supplications from Nigeria was published in Missionary Herald of Philadelphia as Odubanjo specially requested but there was no response to his request for European missionaries. Help was to come from The Apostolic Church in Britain with whom the Ilesha church movement also shared correspondence following Odubanjo’s acquaintance with the British denomination’s publication, Riches of Grace. The church in Britain had experienced a similar spiritual awakening; the Welsh revival of 1904-1905 in which a 100,000 were converted in less than a year.

After doctrinal matters were settled, especially on divine healing, a decision was made by the Faith Tabernacle movement in Nigeria to affiliate with The Apostolic Church headquarters in London. This new church formed in November 13, 1931 had a major schism when in 1940, the Christ Apostolic Church, separated from it after a dispute among members concerning whether or not to open church doors to Europeans who compromised on the non-use of medicine. The Apostolic Church in Nigeria became autonomous in 1981 but continue to maintain fellowship with the U.K. church. Okon Eyo Edet, a man who had joined the church in 1932 was selected by the Nigerian executive advisory council to head the now indigenous church. The Nigerian church is responsible for the North American field work which was in the 2010s beset by divisions allegedly due to ethnicity.

The Apostolic Church, like many churches that came before the new generation of Pentecostal movement, pays attention to the apostolic truth, and believes in the preservation of the gospel as written in the bible. Salvation of the soul and baptism of the Holy Spirit is also emphasized. Believe in divine healing, often interpreted as a call against medical consultation is one of the characteristic feature of the church, and bad media is prohibited. The object of The Apostolic Church is to spread, by preaching, the gospel of God by the establishment of places of worship. The church prides itself as having a vibrant prophetic ministry and a foretelling at the start of each year remains a high point in the church’s calendar. An ambitious 100,000 capacity church auditorium project at Ketu which began in 1986 was completed in 2011.  The Apostolic Church is one of the oldest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria with membership, concentrated in Akwa Ibom and the south west, exceeding a million.