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Presbytarianism In Nigeria

In those early days there was a tacit understanding among Christian missions operating in the Country to restrict their operations within certain territorial areas. Accordingly, the Church of Scotland Mission, the Presbyterians were restricted to Calabar, Cross River, Afikpo, Aro-Ohafia and Abakalilki areas where they had remained and worked for well over a century. This accounts for why there was no Presbyterian establishment or influence in the Western Region of Nigeria until the establishment of the Lagos Presbyterian Church in May 1963 by committed Presbyterian Christian, from the former Eastern Region, who, over many years of their sojourn in Lagos, had earnestly yearned for the establishment of a Presbyterian Church, where they could worship God in the Presbyterian tradition they were accustomed to.

This challenge was picked up by one Mr. E. Udofia, a Presbyterian, who at the time was a Leader in the Trinity Methodist Church, Tinubu. He represented the Lagos District of the Methodist Church in the Church Union Committee. After consulting with the then Synod Authorities, Mr. Udofia summoned by a publication in the West African Pilot of March 22, 1963, a meeting of all Presbyterians resident in Lagos at the Baptist Academy on Friday, March 28, 1963. The meeting resolved to start a Presbyterian Church in Lagos and appointed a Steering Committee of four men consisting of the following persons, Mr.E. Udofia – Convener, Mr. A. U. Aruah – Member, Mr. U. N. Onwu – Member and Mr. E. O. Itam – Member to explore the possibility.

After a month of preparation, the Inaugural Service of the Lagos Presbyterian Church was held in the house of Mr. U. N. Onwu at No. 3, Panti Street, Yaba on May 5, 1963. Seventy-three (73) persons attended the inaugural service and Mr. (now Elder) E. Udofia preached the maiden sermon on the text, “who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zachariah 4:11). Thereafter, attendances at services greatly increased until the accommodation at No. 3 Panti Street, Yaba, became inadequate and on the 15th September 1963, the Congregation moved into the Methodist Girls High School Hall and later on, into the more spacious accommodation at the Casino Cinema.

At conception, this Congregation was an extension charge of the Calabar Presbyterian but later, and for administrative convenience, the Synod placed it under the Abakaliki Presbytery and Rev. Walter F. Maclean was assigned once a month from Enugu to conduct Services. At the first Baptismal Service held on September 15, 1963 by Rev. E. A.Onuk of Duke Town Church, Calabar, 103 persons were baptized and 75 persons, confirmed and since that date, the number of persons received into the Church by baptism and confirmation had grown quite considerably from year to year.