Religion is one of the major aspects of the Nigerian lifestyle. Nigeria has three major religious factions. The Christain religion where members are known as Christians and their place of worship is the church, the Islamic religion where members are called Muslims the place of worship is the mosque, and the traditional religion whose members are called traditional Worshippers and their place of worship is the shrine.
In recent times, the traditional religion has lost most of its members since the arrival of Christianity. Nigeria is now primarily dominated by the Christian and Islamic factions, with Islamic religion dominating the northern part of the country and Christianity in Southern Nigeria.
Which is the First Church in Nigeria?
The first church in Nigeria is The Cathedral Church of St. Peters, Ake Abeokuta. It was founded in 1898 by Reverend Andrew Desalu Wilhelm. From that point on, It became the rallying point for missionaries who entered the country.
Christianity was first introduced in Abeokuta by Reverend Henry Townsend who was sent by the Christain Missionary Society (CMS) to gather more information on the Yoruba Mission. This was after the CMS in England received an invitation from James Ferguson a former slave who had regained his freedom after the abolishment of the slave trade.
The missionary works of Reverend Townsend lasted between 1846 to 1867. He established the first Nigerian newspaper Iwe Irohin in 1859. During his first visits to Abeokuta, he met with Reverend Birch Freeman and they celebrated the first Nigerian Christmas on December 25 1842 under the Agia tree in Asisoe Tin, Badagry.
A Brief History of Christianity in Nigeria
Christianity was first introduced in the 15th century by the Augustinian and Capuchin monks. But their mission did not hold sway because they were more interested in the slave trade and abandoned their Missionary work. Another attempt was made again in the 17th century to introduce the religion in Nigeria by the Roman Catholics, they succeeded in a few places like Benin city and Warri. They were unable to convert the traditional rulers who were more interested in all the goodies they could gain from the white men.
Christianity was able to hold sway after the introduction of missionary schools in the country. After the end of the sale trade, some slaves returned home to further increase the practice of Christianity in Nigeria.
One of the slaves who returned home is Samuel Ajayi Crowther. At the age of 12, he was captured by the Fulani slave traders but was rescued by members of the anti-slave patrol. He found refuge in Sierra Leone. Like many of the former slaves there Samuel Ajayi Crowther accepted the faith and become a strong member. He was sent to his homeland in Abeokuta for the furtherance of the Yoruba Mission and in 1864 he was appointed 1864 bishop of the Niger territory. Samuel Ajayi Crowther played a huge part in the Creation of the first Yoruba bible.
Over time, more people began to warm up to the idea of Christianity, and now close to half the Nigerian population practices Christianity.
Some of the first Christain groups in Nigeria were the Roman Catholics, Anglican Communion, Methodist church, and the Baptist Church. Over time, Nigeria has seen the emergence of many other smaller doctrines classified as Pentecostal churches.
Some Popular Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria Today are:
- Living faith church (Winners Chapel)
- The Redeemed Christain Church of God (RCCG)
- Christ Apostolic Church (CAC)
- Celestial Church of Christ
- Deeper Life Christian Ministry
- The Lord’s Chosen
- Mountain of Fire and Miracles
- Christ Embassy
- Assemblies of God Church
- Word of Life Bible Church
- Cherubim and Seraphim
- The Redeemed evangelical ministry
- Seventh-day Adventist church
Effects of Christianity on the Nigerian Culture
The introduction of Christianity in Nigeria brought with it a lot of changes some positive and others negative.
- It stopped some barbaric customs like the killing of twins and human sacrifice
- It brought about the establishment of schools and proper healthcare facilities
- It changed our political system completely eroding it and replacing it.
- Christianity has led to the partial and complete extinction of most of our traditional beliefs and cultures.