HISTORY OF ALL SAINTS ANGLICAN CHURCH, SURULERE
All Saints Church has come a long way, thanks to its resilient and dogged members. Evolving from its very simple rectangular building without a Vicarage at inception to a magnificent Church structure with very modest but exquisite Vicarage, with other ancillary structures, such as the Primary School and the Crèche. The Church has been modernized and renovated to the edifice it now portrays. Its pews and floor have received very great attention, supported by it being fully air-conditioned with the installation of projectors and CCTV.
The first Igbo speaking Anglican Church in Lagos is Bishop Tugwell Memorial (BTM) Church, Lagos which commenced in 1922, but the Church building commenced in earnest in 1939. The foundation stone was laid on 13th January 1940 and the building dedicated on 4th June, 1941. As the population of the Lagos Island continued to increase, people stated to move to new settlements in the Mainland – Ebute Metta, Yaba, Surulere, Apapa Elemu (now Marine Beach) etc.
The nearest settlement in the Mainland to the Lagos Island was Ebute-Metta, so it was the first settlement. In March 1943, the congregation at Ebute-Metta was allocated a School hall at the premises of St. Jude’s Church, Ebute Metta for its worship, under the name “St. Jude’s Niger Igbo Church. It later metamorphosed into Christ Church, Ebute-Metta. In 1945 another congregation also emerged in Apapa known as Good Shepherd’s Church (Igbo Section), Apapa which later metamorphosed into Emmanuel Church, Marine Road, Apapa. These three Churches in Lagos Island, Ebute-Metta and Apapa where administrated under Niger Group of Churches with headquarters at BTM Church, 7 Sheteolu Street, Lagos.
The need of having a resident Priest to superintend the BTM Church and all the Niger Group of Churches in Lagos came up. Members agreed that a request for a priest should wait until Igbo Churches in Ebute-Metta and Apapa had built their own buildings. One of the members, Mr. Abara, on his own discretion, wrote to the Bishop of the Niger, the Rt. Rev. C.J. Patterson in 1945 requesting for a resident priest to be sent to Lagos. This created crises in the Church Council of BTM Churches (Niger Group of Churches) because some members objected to posting of a priest to Lagos at that time.
The Bishop on the Niger, the Rt. Rev. C.J. Paterson, in response to Mr. Abara’s letter and with the approval of the Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos, the Most Rev. L.G. Vining, in 1946, sent Rev. H.L. Okechukwu as the Vicar of BTM Lagos and Superintending Priest of the other Churches in the Niger Group of Churches. He resided at No. 5 Little Road, Yaba where delegates from BTM Lagos and the two other Igbo speaking Anglican Churches led by Mr. Ogugua went to welcome him and his wife. The delegates advised Rev. H.L. Okechukwu to look into the crises in the Church first before drawing up his programmes. Rev. H.L. Okechukwu did not agree with the delegates’ suggestion and even showed them the order of service he had already drawn for Sunday worship service and insisted that it should be followed. The delegates left without convincing Rev. Okechukwu to hold on for the meantime.
The next Sunday, Rev. H.L. Okechukwu assigned every conduct of the service to himself – playing the organ, reading the lessons and delivering the sermon, The Church Choir was even replaced with people who were not even members of the Church. A handful of displeased worshippers at the Ebute-Metta station of BTM, staged a walkout to protest the reneging of an earlier agreement among the Igbo speaking Anglican Church that they would not request for a priest until a Church building has been built at Ebute-Metta and Apapa to accommodate the BTM parishes there. That singular act of protest, carried out at the spur of the moment as it were gave birth to a Church, which has over the years blossomed into a very strong pillar for the Lord and His gospel;
As an offshoot of the above, this present All Saints went through many mutations at different locations. At a time the Church was housed under mango trees and in private homes. Then they moved to Ladi-Lak School Hall, Yaba in July 1946. The pioneer leaders were Messrs E.O. Ojechi, Benjamin Nwokolo and James Okoye, all lay-readers at that time, assisted by host of others. The Church later moved to All Saints Church Yaba, in January 1, 1950, with its service starting by 11:30a.m on Sundays. Most of the members left for home in 1966 due to the impending civil war, few members remained behind.
In December 31, 1969 members were asked to move away from All Saints Church, Yaba. On 1st January, 1970, one of our founding fathers, Mr. F.O.C. Nwankwo, then Principal of the City College Yaba, offered the Church the hall of the College for worship. He died on April 24th, 1970, in the heat of these problems. The senior lay-reader, Mr. G.E. Ogbo left for Akure for training as a Priest in January 1974, who is to later become our first Priest on completion. In April 1974, a two month quit notice was issued to the Church to leave City College. Very frantic efforts were made to acquire a property for the Church. The efforts of our founding fathers and mothers especially Late Madam M.C. Eneli and Late Sir D.B.N Akamelu paid off later. On April 2, 1974 the process of acquiring this present site began, culminating in the signing of the conveyance on May 10th, 1974. The Church was officially named All Saints Church Surulere on November 3, 1974.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
In both areas, All Saints Church has come a long way, thanks to its resilient and dogged members. Evolving from its very simple rectangular building without a Vicarage at inception to a magnificent Church structure with very modest but exquisite Vicarage, with other ancillary structures, such as the Primary School and the Crèche.
The Church has been modernized and renovated to the edifice it now portrays. Its pews and floor have received very great attention, supported by it being fully air-conditioned with the installation of projectors and CCTV.
We have grown not only in size and structure but also spiritually. We are not wanting in the spreading of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. For many years we have been engaged in outreach evangelism out of Lagos to other parts of our dear Country. We make bold to assert this. This Church has produced the greatest number of Priests to the Anglican Communion from its members than any other single Church.
We have had the privilege of having very wonderful Vicars at each time, beginning of course with
|Canon G. E. Ogbo||1976 - 1980|
|Canon R. C. Iwuchukwu||1980 - 1989|
|Canon C.A. Maduoma (now Most Rev.)||1989 - 1998|
|Ven. Levi .E. Opara||1998 - 2004|
|Canon .G.E. Chukwunenye (now Rt. Rev.)||2004 - 2008|
|Ven. Okey Madu||2008 - 2010|
|Ven. Joe Eziaghighala||2010 - 2014|
|Ven. Emeka Onwuakpa||2014 till date|
We have the very rare privilege of having many resourceful Assisting Priests and at any giving time since the inception; most of whom have risen to become Venerables. They include:
Ven. Andrew Iheagwam, Ven. Moses Onwueyi, Ven. Ambrose Ike, Ven. Mathias Onyendi, Canon Elijah Abimbola, Canon Gabriel Ezeanya, Rev. Emmanuel Chibueze, Canon Uche Anikwenwa, Canon Ifeanyichukwu Nriama, Ven. Emeka Nwogu, Ven. C.O.E. Ilekanachi, Rev. Matthew Ogu, Rev. Tony Ajero, Rev. Deji Awe, Ven. Bartholomew Ejenihu, Canon Chris Enunwa Canon Robert Amuta and Late Ven. Adesina.
The write up will not be complete without containing the number of our members who went into priesthood. We thank God for this grace.
We have not been too wonderful in this area maybe due to our limited space. But we make bold to say we have helped to nurture many not too strong Churches to stand firm and grow them spiritually. Up to date we have only been able to plant St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Akobi. We hope to do more on this.
SOCIETIES AND GROUPS
The vibrancy of the Church can be attributed to its many arms in the form of societies. The Church has over fifteen such societies which traditionally include the Anglican Youth Fellowship, the Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade and a superb and excellent Choir. Our Choir is number one in the Diocese.
- The Christian Men Fellowship
- The Women Prayer Meeting (Mothers’ Union & Women’s Guild)
- The Star of Bethlehem
- The Anglican Children Ministry
- The Christian Soldiers
- The Rising Star
- The Covenant Partners
- The Praying Band
THE SAINTS NURSERY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL
The School commenced on 25th September, 1995 at the first and second floors of the Administrative Block of the Church. Later, a section of the School was extended to the Teenage hall. The School still stays within the Church buildings, but in 2010, a portion of land was acquired, not far from the Church. Work has started on this permanent site, with a substantial donation by Sir (Dr.) & Lady Jona Eze of a School block and generous contributions by the members. It is hoped that the School will move to His permanent site in September 2017. It should be noted that in June 2000, a six plot of land located along Ago Palace Way, Okota was donated to the Church by Prince & Mrs. John Okoli. It is envisaged that a secondary school will be built there. We are in expectation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the commencement of the school.
and its views properly explained to the world.
PRIESTS FROM THIS CHURCH
- Moses Onwueyi
- Nnaemeka Nwosu
- Theodore Nwabasili
- S.C.I. Okoronkwo
- (Dr.) Chinedum Nwaigbo
- Dozie Obinwa
- Herbert Ezike
- (Engr.) Echi Nwogu
- Late Rufus Ikesiengbe
- Tony Ajaero
- Tychicus Okoli
- Chamberlin Igwenazor
- Uche Ubadinobi
- Emeka Nwosu
- Okey Obodozie
- Ikem Igbodike
- Innocent Chukwuekem
- Ikenna Udoye
- Miracle Egere
- Christian Ogini
- Chiedozie C. Maduklm
- Livingstone Akunwanne
- George Abara
- Alex Egbulefu
- Obi Ihemekwala
- Amara Nwachukwu
- Alex Obiahuba
- Mike Agu
- Goddy Okonkwo
- B.C Omeokachie
- Vincent Ireka
- Uche Ekwensi
- Lambert Kaesieme
- Ben Eluchie