Much had been written on the introduction of Christianity into Ijebu land, but the history of the growth of the church to the Diocesan level will not be completed without a brief introduction concerning the men who sowed the 'mustard seed' of the Gospel of Christ into our fertile and receptive soil. Our soil is fertile and receptive of the good news in the sense that even though missionary work started in Abeokuta in 1846, in Lagos in 1852, in Ibadan in 1852, in Ondo in 1876 and in Oyo in 1877, Ijebu was opened and it received Gospel in 1892; but by 1896, the Church Missionary Society had established churches and schools in not less than fifty-six (56) towns in Ijebu. Indeed, one of the early missionaries had got this to say in confirming the impressive growth of the Gospel work in Ijebuland. "...Although, compared with the other units of the great Yoruba race, the light of the Gospel came to Ijebu late, and that after a brush with the imperial forces of the British Government that within fifty (50) years of Christianity, there was hardly any Ijebu village that had not received the Gospel."
The Strenous pastoral and evagelistic works of Mr. S. E. Eliot,Bachelor of Arts , Rev. J. B. Payne, Rev. E. O. George, Rev. R. A. Coker, Rev. J. Braithwaite, Rev. S. J. Gansallo, Rev. I. B. Ogunmefun, Rev. M. J. Luke, Rev. N. A. Onatolu, Rev. Kayode and others made it possible for Ijebu to earn its early parish churches in such places as Porogun, St. Saviours (Ijasi), Ijebu-Igbo (Ojowo in particular), Isonyin and Imusin between 1900 and 1925. The number of Parishes had since been on the increase, more so with the creation of many Provincial District Church Councils and District Church Councils.
An Important step forward occured in 1910 when on the 9th day of August that year, Ijebu churches, then administered as spate units of churches under the Lagos District Church Council, were organized into a Provisional District Church Council (PDCC). The Rev. S. J. Gansallo, the Vicar of St. Saviour's Church, Ijasi was appointed the first Chairman and Treasurer of the aforesaid Ijebu Provisional District Church council on its inauguration on the 9th August 1910. The Rev. I. B. Ogunmefun was Chairman of the said Provisional District Church Council from 1921 - 1925
The status of the Ijebu Provisional District Church Council was sustained for full fifteen years (1910 - 1925) before the attainment of a higher one, to wit, the Ijebu District Church Council. In the interim, the Diocese of Lagos was formed on the 10th October 1919, - the then Ijebu Provisional District Church Council was of course a component part of the new Diocese of Lagos. In 1926, the Ijebu Provisioal District Church Council was raised to the status of a full-fledged District Church Council named Ijebu-Ode District Church Council under the Chairmanship of the Rt. Revd. Isaac Oluwole, the then Assistant Bishop of Lagos. On the 29th day of June 1926, the first meeting of the Ijebu Ode District Church Council was held with 11 clergymen; 22 lay agents and 226 delegates present, with the Rt. Revd. Isaac Oluwole presiding. In 1953, the Ijebu-Igbo District Church Council was carved out of the Ijebu-Ode District Church Council and was in the same year inaugurated with the Revd. (later Ven.) P. Ade. Orebajo as its Chairman.
The two District Church Councils aforesaid performed so well that having satisfied the Lagos Diocese constitutional Provisions for the status of an Archdeaconry, they were on the 28th day of February 1965 carved out of the Lagos Archdeaconry and named Ijebu Archdeaconry, with Venerable J. F Akinrele, M. A. Dip.Ed as its first Archdeacon, and on his retirement at the end of 1971, he was succeeded by Venerable B. A. Adelena, M.A.; Dip.Ed. Between 1865 and 1971, four District and Provisional District Church councils made up the Ijebu Archdeaconry, namely:
Epiphany Church Erunwon addressed a written appeal to the Lagos Diocesan Board against its inclusion in the then Ijebu North East Provisional District Church Council. This letter was read on Tuesday the 25th April 1972 at a meeting of the Diocesan Board held at Bishop's court Marina, Lagos. The Board sent a delegation comprising Mrs. Teniola Soyinka, Rev. S. B. Talabi the Registrar, and Mr. C. O. Odugbesan to persuade the church. All interventions proved abortive, and so Epiphany church was created as a chapelry pending the completion of the then envisaged re-organisation of Ijebu Archdeaconry. This is significant as Epiphany Church Erunwon was the only Chapelry in Lagos Diocese before the creation of Ijebu Diocese. However, the envisaged re-organisation had taken place and the Epiphany church Erunwon is now grouped with Ijebu-Ode Archdeaconry.
Before 1969 other denominations such as the Roman Catholic and the African Church Organisations had already carved out, each for itself a Bishopric Ijebu Pronvince. Even though the Anglican church is at all material times the leading church organisation in Ijebu Province, it cherished no such ambition notwithstanding its material and spiritual potentialities. However at a meeting of the Archdeaconry board held at St. Peter's Church Ala on September 17, 1969 with Ven. J. F. Akinrele M. A., Dip.Ed., presiding, a motion calling on the Archdeaconry to apply through the Anglican Diocese of Lagos to the Provincial Synod of West Africa for the creation of an Ijebu Diocese was moved by Barrister I. O. Owotomo and was seconded by Mr. E. Ade Koleowo. An amendment to the motion was moved by Rev. (now Ven.) N. E. A. Osisanya B.A.(Lond.) and was seconded by Mr. B. O. O. Awonusi. The motion amended sailed through with no opposition. Commenting on the motion, Messrs. D. B. Ogutuga and E. O. J. Bamiro, both of blessed memory advanced useful suggestions the most important being that we on this side (Ijebu Archdeaconry) should take no further steps until we liaised with our Christian brothers in Ijebu Remo District Church Council on the matter. Due to insufficient publicity, it was not immediately easy to make a break-through with Ijebu Remo District Church Council, not until 1971. In the meantime, the Ijebu Archdeaconry submitted a formal application for the creation of Ijebu Diocese to the First Session of the Eighteenth Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Lagos, held at Ijebu-Ode in May 1971. The said application was reinforced and strengthened by the demand for the "Creation of an Ijebu Anglican Diocese" made by our indomitable honoured guest at the above session of the synod, Chief (Dr.) Timothy Adeola Odutola, the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians. This memorable address embodying the demand no doubt made a great impact in the minds of delegates who represented Ijebu Remo District Church Council at the Synod session, because thenceforth it was possible for us to corporate and prosecute our demands without tears, especially between 1971 and 1973.
The Lord Bishop of Lagos The Rt. Revd. S. I. Kale, D.D., after going through all the documents submitted with the application was able to conclude that it was clear from the documents he had just read that the movement did not start with the Diocesan Board. The parties to the proposed new Diocese appeared to have agreed after due consultation to do so voluntarily. After some exchange of letters between Ijebu Archdeaconry and the Ijebu Remo District Church Council, it was possible for them to appoint a Standing Committee which held its first meeting on the 8th November, 1971 under the Chairmanship of the Venerable J. F. Akinrele, M.A; Dip.Ed. In attendance were representatives as follows:
This meeting scored two main points, namely (A) the assurance of solidarity between the Ijebu Archdeaconry and the Ijebu-Remo District Church Council and (B) the appointment of a Nine (9) member Committee to study the constitutional requirements on the creation of a new Diocese and to prepare a fitting memorandum, and the following were the appointed:
On the 19th November, 1971, the Memorandum Drafting committe met at Sagamu, and on the 26th November, 1971, the Ijebu Diocese Memorandum signed by the representatives of the five council (inculding Ijebu Remo) was submitted to the Lagos Diocesan Board For the purpose of prosecuting the application of the Creation of an Ijebu Diocese, the "Proposed Ijebu Anglican Diocese working committee" was formed at a meeting of the working committee which met at St. Paul's Church , Sagamu on 28th July, 1972 its membership and terms of reference were well sorted out. Membership of the working committee comprised:
The first principal officers fo the working committee were:
On March 2 1972, the Chancellor of Lagos Diocese, Hon. Justice Adefarasin was appointed the Sole Commissioner to make recommendations to the Board on the advisability or otherwise of carving out more Dioceses form the existing Lagos Diocese. the Bishop of Lagos, The Rt. Revd. S. I. Kale nominated the Rev. R. V. Badejo and Mr. B. B. Lewis as the assessors. Consequent upon its appointment, the Commission of Inquiry invited memoranda from Archdeaconries, Districts and individuals within the Diocese of Lagos touching on the issue. The Memorandum on the proposed creation of the Egba / Egbado Archdeaconry Board, whilst the Memorandum on the creation of the proposed Ijebu Diocese was submitted by Messrs J. M. A. Shabi, D. O. B. Awosile, E. O. J. Bamiro, Olu. Onanugba, T. Oba Ogunfuye and Rev J. O. A. Ajayi (Secretary Archdeaconry Board).
The Commission took oral testimony from the following persons who appeared before it:
The evidence was lengthy. However, at the close of evidence the Commission of inquiry was able to report that all, except two, who testified before it, stated the case for the carving out of the Egba / Egbado Archdeaconry or the Ijebu Archdeaconry with slight geographical changes out of the existing Diocese of Lagos into the Egba/Egbado Diocese or the Ijebu Diocese respectively.The undergoing are relevant excerpts from the Findings and Recommendations of the Commission of inquiry:
This is a turbulent period in the history of the creation of Ijebu Diocese, because, a few weeks after the 1973 resolution at the synod in Lagos, a few influenitial individuals, otherwise known as a Committee of eleven (11), objected seriously to the idea of Ijebu/Remo District Council joinning the Ijebu Archdeaconry to form an Ijebu Anglican Diocese. Political and other imaginary consideration created a temporary set-back Amidst doubts as to what might happen next, the Ijebu Archdeaconry prepared a second memorandum - a memorandum for the creation of an Ijebu Diocese excluding Ijebu-Remo District Church Council, - since, in any event, it satisfied the necessary prerequisites as outlined in the "Guidelines for the creation of new Dioceses".
Rt. Rev. S. I. Kale D.D.,. Lord Bishop of Lagos at the crucial meeting of Thursday 17th October 1974 rightly observed and remarked: "The parties to the proposed new Diocese appeared to have agreed after due consultation to do so voluntarily. But subsequently, they started disagreeing amongst themselves. It reached a stage that it was mentioned to this board. Right from the word go, that is, after the Synod approval, some people started creating problems, others said " we would go ahead" and went ahead. there are now two final memoranda before the Board. The one with the green cover is concerned with the original proposal before the board, namely the Ijebu Diocese which embraces Ijebu Archdeaconry and Ijebu Remo DCC, the other with blue cover, is for Ijebu Diocese covering the existing Ijebu Archdeaconry alone. the problem which the Diocesan Board is now faced with is to consider carefully (and with prayers) whether the people of these areas should go along with themselves, if that will make them happy and get them to do what God wants them to do . If anybody said the problem was created for them by this Board, that person must be speaking from "ignorance", the truth is that the Diocesan Board is now called upon to help solve the problem which began and developed elsewhere. The Bishop ended by saying "May I know the wish of the House"
E. O. O. Adefule Esq.: A nominee for Ijebu Remo District Church Council in his prepared speech remarked "One of the arguments of our opponents is that we, in Ijebu-Remo, are going as slaves to Ijebu-Ode if we join the union. Quite opposed to this contention, the majority of us have considered this idea as nothing but vestige of the old colonial mentality which chould be laughed to scorn. As pointed out by Ven. Archdeacon S. A. Banjo at one of the Peace Committee Meetings at Remo Secondary School, Sagamu, we strongly believe that Ijebu-Remo, if we join our brothers at Ijebu-Ode, will go into the proposed Diocese on equal partnership. As for fear of domination from Ijebu-Ode, we have reasonably put it that it is purely imaginary. We are now within Lagos Diocese. We have asked "When has Oba Oyekan invited either the Awujale or the Akarigbo to Lagos on the affairs of Lagos Diocse?" We have also reasonably explained that such misuse or abuse of political power can never operate within Christian community, What operates is unalloyed democracy"
D. Ade. Ladega Esqr.: A nominee of the Lagos District Church Council in his prepared address also among other points remarked: "That Remo at a recent meeting heldin the RSS Hall had unanimously resolved (a) that whether Remo joined the proposed Ijebu Diocese or remained in Lagos as it has been since its inception about 90 years ago, the unity of Remo must remain intact and unimpared and (b) that the ultimate ambition of Remo is to become a Diocese of its own in due course." "Finally, I said that since Ijebu had prepared two memoranda (one excluding Remo and the other including it) for consideration they (Ijebu) would be well advised to adopt the one excluding Remo, failing which Remo people would oppose its acceptance by the Provincial Synod."
The Lord Chancellor, Justice J. A. Adefarasin: In his conversation referred to the legal point made by Mr. Ladega, He advised the Board to proceed with its deliberation without fear of intimidation or threats about proceedings in court. The courts had consistently maintained that this sort of thing is a domestic issue. He also stated that the matter had passed the stage where it could be affected by the procedural preliminaries outlined by Mr. Ladega. The Board should proceed to deliberate on the issues before it.
The Chancellor observed that there were four papers to be submitted and requested that a motion be moved. Mr. C. O. Odugbesan moved that the following papers be submitted to the Provincial Synod for consideration: (a) Egba/Egbado Diocese (b) Ijebu Diocese: Comprising Ijebu Archdeaconry and Ijebu Remo DCC (In green cover) (c) Ijebu Diocese: Comprising of Ijebu Archdeaconry only (in blue cover) (d) Lagos Diocese.
The motion was seconded by Chief (Dr.) E. N. O. Sodeinde. The voting was fifty-three (53) in favour and one (1) abstention. The Standing Committee of the Provincial Synod at its meeting held at the University of Ibadan on 31st October 1974 considered the papers and passed the following resolution with a majority of twenty-five (25) in favour none against and two (2) abstension.
It is significant to put on record the draft Crest which was the original product of Ijebu Archdeaconry and Ijebu Remo District Church Council. The drawing of a revised Crest as suggested by the Standing Committee of the Provincial Synod at its meeting held on 31st October 1974 yielded to Ijebu Diocese its present Crest. However the spirit depicted in the original draft Crest is retained as the motto of Ijebu Diocese: "Ut sint unum". Politics has entered into every facet of our lives - but should it be allowed to divide us, must we not be one? The provincial Synod at its meeting held at the University of Lagos on the 12th Day of August 1975, acting under Article 1 of Chapter XIV of the constitution of the Church of the Province of West Africa, gave the final consent and approval for the creation of the Diocese of Ijebu as defined in this regard by the Rt. Revd. Festus Oluwole Segun BA.; B.D,. D.D., Bishop of Lagos. A few personalities whose names must go down in letters of gold in connection with the creation of new Diocese must be made mention of in this historical sketch:
In Ijebu Diocese
Our Comrades from Ijebu Remo Diocese to mention just a few:
Our co-fighters from Egba/Egbado Diocese
Together we solved the "simultaneous equation!" Lagos Diocese before the carving out of Ijebu Diocese:
The three personalities above-mentioned were impartial and firm and they acted on sound principles and on proved facts.
The Ijebu Anglican Diocese Working Committee completed its assignment with the approval by the Provincial Synod of West Africa of the application for the Creation of Ijebu Anglican Diocese. the Inauguration committee was in addition enjoined to see to the provision of:
Finally, the Inauguration Committee is to intensify the collection of donations and other funds for the prosecution of the above-mentioned items. Pursuant to the consent and approval of the application for the creation of the Ijebu Anglican Diocese, the Rt. Revd. Isaac Bandele Omowaiye Akintemi M.Div was on the 6th Day of August, 1976, consecrated Bishop, following is earlier election as the first Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ijebu
The Ijebu Anglican Diocese has since justified the aspirations of the whole Anglican Communion within the Church of the Province of Nigeria both morally, financially and spiritually.