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The Seventh-day Adventist Church



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NIGERIA. An African federation, it won independence on Oct. 1, 1960, and became a republic in October 1963. Nigeria is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Guinea, on the east by Chad and the Cameroon republic, on the north by Niger, and on the west by Benin. The country, with its capital at Abuja, consists of 30 states and the federal capital territory of Abuja.

Nigeria’s area is 356,669 square miles (923,773 square kilometers). The most populous state on the continent, it has an estimated population (1994) of more than 98 million, 50 percent of whom are Muslims, mainly in the north, and 40 percent are Christians. The rest are chiefly animists. During the eighteenth century as many as 100,000 slaves a year were shipped through the ports along the Nigerian coast. Agriculture is the principal occupation, the chief exports being cocoa, palm products, peanuts, and cotton. Since the early 1970s crude oil production has become the chief source of the national income.

The geography of Nigeria is strikingly varied. Immediately north are mangrove swamps that soon give way to tropical rain forests in which palm products grow abundantly. Farther inland is a rolling plain dotted with orchard-type trees, and beyond them rises a plateau with grotesque little thorn trees. In the far north even the thorns disappear, and there is nothing but burning sky and scorched wasteland as one reaches the outer fringes of the Sahara, the white-hot heart of Africa. Two large rivers, the Niger flowing southeast and the Benue flowing west, converge at the city of Lokoja, dividing the country into three natural geographical regions.

About 100 years ago missionaries began entering Nigeria to establish schools. Many Nigerians have fathers and grandfathers who were educated men. The first university was established in Nigeria in 1948. In 1993 there were 33 state universities and many colleges and polytechnic schools.

Seventh-day Adventist Statistics. The territory of Nigeria constitutes the Nigeria Union Mission within the Africa-Indian Ocean Division. Statistics (1992) for Nigeria: churches, 480; members, 99,080; ordained ministers, 149; licensed ministers, 117. Headquarters: Ikeja.

Statistics (1992) for the conference and missions—East Central Mission: churches, 49; members, 7,860; ordained ministers, 13; licensed ministers, 7. Headquarters: Umuahia. East Nigeria Conference: churches, 182; members, 35,087; ordained ministers, 43; licensed ministers, 11. Headquarters: Aba. Edo-Delta Mission: churches, 14; members, 3,053; ordained ministers, 5; licensed ministers, 9. Headquarters: Benin City. North East Mission: churches, 32; members, 7,430; ordained ministers, 10; licensed ministers, 12. Headquarters: Bukuru. North West Mission: churches, 30; members, 6,586; ordained ministers, 11; licensed ministers, 12. Headquarters: Kaduna. Rivers Conference: churches, 68; members, 10,841; ordained ministers, 18; licensed ministers, 8. Headquarters: Port Harcourt. South East Mission: churches, 12; members, 1,511; ordained ministers, 6; licensed ministers, 11. Headquarters: Calabar. West Nigeria Conference: churches, 88; members, 22,938; ordained ministers, 16; licensed ministers, 37. Headquarters: Ibadan.

Institutions. Aba Health Center and Motherless Children’s Home; Adventist Seminary of West Africa; Inisha Community Medical Center; Jengre Seventh-day Adventist Hospital; Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife.

Development of Seventh-day Adventist Work. Beginnings. Seventh-day Adventist missions in Nigeria began in 1914, when D. C. Babcock, who had worked in Sierra Leone since 1905, arrived in Lagos. He was accompanied by two Sierra Leone workers, R. P. Dauphin and S. Morgue. Leaving his family at Lagos, he made a tour northward as far as Jebba, on the Niger River about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the coast. Babcock selected a mission site at Erunmu, 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Ibadan, capital of the Western Region. One of the young men who had come with Babcock from Sierra Leone learned the Yoruba language so quickly that within five months he opened a school near Lalupon. The missionaries’ language instructor, son of a local chief, soon began to keep the Sabbath. Before the end of 1914 three schools were in operation and seven converts were reported.

In 1917 Babcock, stricken with ill health, was compelled to leave for England with his family. On the way they narrowly escaped death when their ship was torpedoed and sunk. E. Ashton, of England, succeeded Babcock and was succeeded in turn in 1920 by W. McClements of Northern Ireland. McClements remained in charge of the work in Nigeria until his transfer to Accra, Ghana, in 1946, to become the president of the newly organized West African Union Mission.

In 1923 Jesse Clifford and his wife, of England, having served in Sierra Leone and Ghana, came to begin work in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. They established there the Aba Station, which later became the headquarters for the work in East Nigeria, the most fruitful West African field. In the same year

W. G. Till, of England, opened a station at Otun, 60 miles (96 kilometers) from Shao. This station became the center of a prosperous work in the Ekiti area. With Otun well established, headquarters were transferred in 1927 from Shao, where they had been set up, to Ibadan, the capital of the Western Region.

In the Eastern Region a second station was opened at Elele in 1930, in the charge of

L. Edmonds, of England. In 1931 he was succeeded by Clifford, who was stationed at Aba. Elele then came under the direction of A. C. Vine, also of England.

Organization and Advance. In 1930 the East and West Nigerian missions were organized. In 1931 Seventh-day Adventists entered the Northern Region, when J. J. Hyde, coming with his wife and young son from Sierra Leone and Ghana, opened the Jengre station. Mrs. Hyde immediately began dispensary work, and by successfully treating victims of an epidemic, forged an enduring link between the people and the mission. The dispensary later developed into the Jengre SDA Hospital in the charge of Dr. J. A. Hyde, son of J. J. Hyde. The headquarters of the Northern Mission were later transferred to Bukuru, but Jengre still remained a busy station with a hospital and a large school.

At Ibadan a teacher training school was opened in 1932, directed by W.T.B. Hyde, of England. This school was transferred to Ihie in 1947 (see Seventh-day Adventist Training College [Ihie]). In 1944 the first SDA hospital in the Western Region was opened at Ile-Ife. The 1946 reorganization of all the work on the west coast brought W. G. Till from Otun to Ibadan as president of the new West Nigerian Mission. In 1948 a Voice of Prophecy Bible Correspondence School was inaugurated at Ibadan by E. Keslake, a minister from the United States. Later a weekly Voice of Prophecy broadcast from Ibadan was begun. Shortly after, the TV program Faith for Today was granted a half hour every Sunday night.

In the East Nigerian Mission a forward step was taken in 1947 when the Nigerian Training College and Secondary School was established at Ihie. This absorbed the training school previously established at Ibadan. The coming of regional self-government resulting in the establishment of a greatly increased number of schools under a free primary education plan pointed out the need for a West Nigerian Mission training school. As a result, the Adventist Training College was opened at Otun in 1955 under C. A. Bartlett, of England. Later developments in the Western Region included the establishment of the Adventist College of West Africa and the SDA Grammar school at Ede, both in 1960.

In 1952 the North Nigerian Mission was organized. In 1955 E. E. Hulbert, of England, began work in the Calabar area in the Eastern Region, while at the same time P. E. Onwere began work in the Warri area. Hospitals were opened in cooperation with local authorities, at Ahoada and at North Ngwa.

Tremendous changes have in recent years taken place in Nigeria. As an increasing number of nationals have graduated from Nigerian universities or have returned from universities abroad to take up responsible posts of leadership, the government of Nigeria has taken over a number of our institutions. Almost immediately after the Nigerian civil war, the government took over the management of the Nigerian Training College and SDA Secondary School at Ihie as well as our two East Nigerian hospitals, the Ahoada County Hospital, and the Northern Ngwa County Hospital. The institutions still operated by the church now have an increasing number of nationals who are holding positions of leadership.

A new mission was organized in 1971–the Rivers Mission with headquarters in Port Harcourt. The positions of president, secretary-treasurer, and departmental leaders are now all held by nationals in all our conferences and missions in Nigeria.

Because of the large increase in membership in the West African Union, in 1972, Nigeria was separated from that organization and organized into the new Nigerian Union Mission, with headquarters in Lagos. S. Gustavsson became the first president of the new union. When he left in 1977 H. S. Andersen became the union president until 1984 when O. Adeogun succeeded him. Since 1990 L. T. Daniel has been the union president.

In 1977 the East Nigerian Mission became the first conference in the union. That same year what later became the Edo-Delta Mission was carved out of the West Nigerian Mission. In 1986 the East Central Mission was formed, and in 1989 the West Nigerian Mission became a conference.

The year 1993 was a landmark year in many ways. The Rivers Mission became a conference; the North Nigeria Mission was reorganized into the North East and North West missions. The South East Mission Station became a mission.

(Information from the SDA Encyclopedia)

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