By Sam Eyoboka & Olayinka Latona
A GROWING church should be one that continues steadfastly in fellowship, study and prayer. Each believer amongst them should grow and become strong in the Lord. The church that will grow must be a studying church, a sharing church and a praying church with manifestations of signs, wonders and miracles, just like the early church.’—Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
THE Redeemed Christian Church of God, reputed to be the fastest growing church in the world, will this morning ordain a total of 8,622 deacons and deaconesses to flag off the 62nd annual convention of the church which started in 1952 as a daily prayer group under the leadership of Rev. Josiah Akindayomi (1909–1980) after he had been involved in several other churches. He was a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
Thirteen men, including the then Brother Josiah Akindayomi (founder), Brother J.A. Fakunmoju, Brother Makun (the first ordained pastor in the church). Brother J.A. Adekoya, Brother S.K. Padonu and Brother S.A. Olonode, Brother Fadiora, Brother Ilenusi, Brother Okuwobi and Brother Fetuga started the group. The other three brothers were Brother Adefeso, Brother G. A Adefunwa and Brother Matiluko.
The 13 brothers continued to worship at 9, Willoughby Street, Ebute Meta, Lagos having been excommunicated from the Cherubim and Seraphim Church. In the course of their fellowshipping they needed to have their own identity.
Thus, the group was first called the Apostolic Faith of South Africa. Though it had no link with South Africa, it was documented in a booklet published by the church to mark its 50th anniversary that the first name given to the church was a “classic example of the innocence of Rev. Akindayomi…Sometime later, after learning that Nigeria is not in Southern Africa, he changed the name of the group to the Apostolic Faith Mission of West Africa.”
But all those names soon gave way to the current Redeemed Christian Church of God after a divine encounter the founder had with God. He was said to have been woken up in a trance and given its current name though he was not a lettered person. Bro. Olanode one of his lieutenants who was educated was said to have interpreted what the founder copied from the vision as REDEEMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF GOD.
In the early 1970s, Akindayomi started to look for an educated successor who was not at that time a member of the church. He chose Enoch Adeboye, a lecturer in Mathematics Department at the University of Lagos, who joined the church in 1973. Adeboye initially became one of the interpreters translating Akindayomi’s sermons from Yoruba to English. He was ordained a pastor of the church in 1975, and his appointment as leader of the church was formalized by the posthumous reading of Akindayomi’s sealed pronouncement.
Andrew Rice, writing in ‘The New York Times’, described the RCCG as “one of (Africa’s) most vigorously expansionary religious movements, a homegrown Pentecostal denomination that is crusading to become a global faith”.
According to Daniel Ajayi-Adeniran, a pastor of the church, “In every household there will be, at least, one member of Redeemed Christian Church of God in the whole world.”
From that humble beginning, the church has grown by leaps and bounds to have branches in over 180 nations of the world including parishes in Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon and in nearly all seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. According to figures released last year, the church now has 18 regions in Nigeria with varying number of provinces spread across the country.
This morning, the leadership will ordain deacons and deaconesses after an unusually expanded screening process to weed out undeserving persons. Ordination is the process by which individuals after a period of training, are identified for consecration, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination.
To avoid undesirable elements from infiltrating the ranks of the ordainees, Pastor Adeboye made the process more transparent by the publication of the screened candidates, urging members’ involvement, declaring: “we have posted the names of members who have been screened for ordination, so that whoever has any reason why they should not be ordained should write a letter to us on why such a person should not be ordained, we will then investigate and if the findings are true such a minister would not be ordained.”
Last year, General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye presided over a similar ceremony where 8,850 men and women were ordained as deacons and deaconesses to assist the leadership of the church in the smooth running of the ever-growing church.
The ceremony is scheduled for 8.30 a.m. The only other event for the day, House Fellowship Leaders & Workers meeting is billed for 8.30 p.m. and it will be followed by Council meeting.