The old and the new: Ten decades of our Saviour’s Church

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - NEWS - By Jane O. Ejuey­itchie-oroye

OUR Saviour’s Church, TBS, La­gos, from in­cep­tion was quite a unique and dis­tinct church. She re­mained the only church in Nige­ria founded by virtue of leg­is­la­tion in the early 20th cen­tury. She was a church founded for the Euro­peans who were work­ing in gov­ern­ment and the firms op­er­at­ing in La­gos and its en­v­i­ron. Th­ese Euro­peans to­gether with the di­rec­tors at the firms’ head­quar­ters in Europe were joint part­ners with gov­ern­ment in found­ing the church. A par­tially com­pleted church build­ing which was a con­se­quence of this joint part­ner­ship was ded­i­cated in 1911.

The book, The­oldandthe New,ten­decades­o­four Saviour’schurch, gives a fully doc­u­mented ac­count of how this Colo­nial Church was ad­min­is­tered for four decades by the Bri­tish colo­nial gov­ern­ment and later on by the Colo­nial Church Coun­cil. Apart from hold­ing church ser­vices for her mem­bers, the Colo­nial Church got in­volved in ed­u­ca­tion and es­tab­lished two of the fore­most pri­mary schools in La­gos – St. Saviour’s School Ebutte Metta and St. Saviour’s School Ikoyi. This his­tor­i­cal ac­count of the church should make an in­ter­est­ing read for past and present teachers and stu­dents of th­ese two schools that have given chil­dren a solid foun­da­tion for life.

As the Colo­nial Church re­mained a church that wasn’t part of any Angli­can Dio­cese in Nige­ria or the United King­dom or un­der any of the mis­sion­ary bod­ies which had es­tab­lished churches in Nige­ria, stiff op­po­si­tion arose re­gard­ing the struc­ture and ad­min­is­tra­tion of the church. Chron­i­cled in this book are de­tails of the op­po­si­tion that arose to hav­ing a church out­side the ad­min­is­tra­tive but not spir­i­tual au­thor­ity of the Bishop of La­gos. As the life and times of the church is un­rav­elled in the book, y ou get to read about the tran­si­tory stage of the church, that is, the church as a chapelr y of the Dio­cese of La­gos, known as St. Sa viour’s Church. Al­though the church at that stage was a chapelr y of the Dio­cese of La­gos, the Bishop of La­gos still did not ha ve ad­min­is­tra­tive ju­ris­dic­tion over the church. To­wards the end of this tran­si­tory stage of the church, a se­ri­ous cri­sis en­sued. The cri­sis was a con­se­quence of a re­fusal on the part of the Church Coun­cil to ac­cept the only log­i­cal next sta­tus for the church, that is, from be­ing a chapelr y of the Dio­cese of La­gos to be­com­ing a parish church of the dio- cese. Af­ter a se­ries le­gal bat­tles which did not resolve the cri­sis in the church, a de­cree was pro­mul­gated in 1991. This de­cree marked the end of the church as an au­ton­o­mous en­tity and her emer­gence as a parish church in the Dio­cese of La­gos. The name of the church was then changed from St. Saviour’s Church to Our Saviour’s Church by the Bishop of La­gos who be­gan to ex­er­cise spir­i­tual and ad­min­is­tra­tive au­thor­ity over the church. The 1991 de­cree there­fore ush­ered in a “New dawn” for the church as she was shed of all ves­tiges of colo­nial­ism.

The pop­u­la­tion of the church grew by leaps and bounds while she flour­ished greatly in all as­pects of church life – spir­i­tu­ally through min­istries, where the con­gre­ga­tion em­pow­ered by the Holy Spirit and en­cour­aged by the Priests used their tal­ents, time and trea­sure in the ser­vice of the Lord. There were out­stand­ing phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ments ex­em­pli­fied by a mag­nif­i­cent church build­ing. Im­pres­sively, the hall­mark of the church con­gre­ga­tion right from in­cep­tion was gen­er­ous giv­ing to things of God.

To the glory of God, in the many up­heavals that the church went through from in­cep­tion to the time the she be­came a parish church in the Dio­cese of La­gos, in con­for­mity with the Word of God, the gates of hell did not pre­vail against Our Saviour’s Church. In­stead she did not only emerge vic­to­ri­ous each time, but also stronger that she was pre­vi­ously. The word of God is truly pow­er­ful and eter­nal.

Struc­turally, it should be pointed out that the book which in­ad­ver­tently high­lights the changes in the po­lit­i­cal arena in Nige­ria is in three parts with each part con­tain­ing enough in­for­ma­tion to be a book of its own. The book can there­fore be con­sid­ered as three books in one. Thus the book, a very big one, is in a way, in the form of a cof­fee ta­ble book. It is leather bound and printed on cream coloured bond pa­per, thus height­en­ing the qual­ity of the pro­duc­tion.

Im­por­tantly, the his­tory in the book has salient spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples that can­not but im­pact on lives pos­i­tively, to the ben­e­fit of the Nige­rian na­tion. The Lord be Praised!

The pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion of the book holds at the Nige­rian In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 16, 2017 at 10.00 a.m. prompt. The oc­ca­sion by His spe­cial grace will be a blessed one. I look for­ward to see­ing you at this his­toric event.

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