1.1 Background of the Study
Every denomination wants to grow. This determination for
growth has led to aggressive evangelism embarked upon by the
church. This explains the springing up churches everywhere
especially in our major towns and cities. Considering United
Missionary Church of Africa (U.M.C.A) that has been in Ilorin for
the past 57 years one is interested to know how far the church has
gone in the area of growth.
The first missionary that came to Africa in the 15 th century
by the Portuguese was not successful, because of slave trade. But
by the 18th century almost all the missions had died. At the end of
18th century, a new missionary movement in Africa began. The
first plantings of full Christian communities among Africans
movement. As a result of the entrance of Christianity to West
Africa through the white missionaries i.e. C.M.S (Church
Missionary Society) and other Protestants. Revd. Williams A.
Banfield, one of the missionary came to established U.M.S
(United Missionary Society) in Shonga now in Edu Local
Government of Kwara State in 1905.
In 1906, two new workers namely: Florence Overholt and
Miss Cornelia Pannabeeker were sent to labour at Shonga. In
1909, Revd. W.A. Banfield went to Jebba and laid the cornerstone
of the church on Jan. 3, 1910. The Mission station formerly
belonging to the C.M.S was occupied on Jan. 1, 1911 at Mokwa
by United Missionary Society. In 1916, the mission was permitted
to locate a mission in Share, in 1919 a large one was established in
Igbeti, by 1921, the Nigerian Government opened some parts of
Northern Nigeria to Missionary Work. This led to the opening of a
new mission at Salka and this led to the beginning of work among
the Kamberis. Zuru was the first U.M.S mission station and it
served the Northern churches at that time, it was opened in 1925
and in 1937 at Yelwa. In about 1947, a main station was opened at
Tugan Magajiya. From these major stations, the church penetrated
the hinterland of Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of Problem
U.M.C.A Ilorin and its environs has every cause to be proud
of being among the first church to be established in Ilorin. A flash
black on the history of U.M.C.A in Nigeria shows that the church
started in Ilorin as far back as 1955. By evangelism and setting up
of institutions, schools, colleges, hospitals and dispensaries were
established. These churches and institutions before registering
with the Federal Government as an indigenous body which is now
known as the United Missionary Church of Africa in 1955.
U.M.C.A covered 12 states of the 36 states of Nigeria. Until 1978,
the missionaries continued to work side by side with Nigerians till
Nigerians took full control of the organization.
Has U.M.C.A really grown spiritually, physically and
numerically as expected in Ilorin metropolis? At this point, we
will take a look into the Ilorin metropolis, its history, its origin and
its relationship with the township itself. This study is aimed at
finding answers to the questions raised above and several others.
1.3 Aims of the Study
This study is carried out to:
1. Evaluate the history and growth of U.M.C.A in Nigeria with
reference to Ilorin metropolis.
2. To identify the U.M.C.A District that are located in Ilorin
3. To analyze the physical and spiritual contributions of
U.M.C.A churches in Ilorin metropolis.
4. To highlight the challenges confronting U.M.C.A in Ilorin
5. To make recommendation on some of the issues raised in
1.4 Justification of the Research
The topic was chosen because of the uniqueness of the
church in Ilorin metropolis. This stems from the fact that it has
provided social amenities: such as schools, hospitals and
dispensaries. It has been instrumental in the transformation of the
town. In other words, the church has made so much impact on the
evangelization of Ilorin, metropolis, and also the theological
college in the city has trained several ministers of the gospels
within and outside the state.
1.5 Research Methodology
The historical method is adopted in this study. University of
Ilorin Library and the United Missionary Church of Africa
theological college library will also be used to consult some books
and general works were also used. So in compiling this essay the
work is divided into five comprehensive chapters and sub-heading
every bulk of information into parts of individual chapters.
The first chapter consists of introduction, the background of
the study i.e. what bought about the study itself, the statement of
problem, the aims, the justification and the involvement and
limitation of the work. Also literature review used to accomplish
the whole work.
The second chapter tells us about the birth of the church and
then it is further sub-divided into the historical origin and
structures or organization of the church and also its doctrinal
The third chapter gives a brief history of Ilorin. It gives the
history of establishment of U.M.C.A churches in Ilorin
metropolis, the creation of districts. Then comes to the enquiry
into problems encountered in the formative period and finally the
challenges faced by the church in the Ilorin metropolis.
The fourth chapter elaborates on the church’s contributions
and the impacts it has on its immediate society. The last chapter
consist of the summary, contribution to knowledge and conclusion
of the work.
1.6 Scope and Limitation
This study has to take a look at history of U.M.C.A in Ilorin
metropolis. Also this work is geographically limited to U.M.C.A
in Ilorin and the districts within the metropolis.
This study was not permitted to go beyond or outside
U.M.C.A in Ilorin metropolis or to look at U.M.C.A in Nigeria
1.7 Literature Review
First and foremost, one should take a look at the literature
concerning the history of the town. Although, there are books that
examine the history of the town the most comprehensive one is
the book of Jimoh L.A.K, “Ilorin the journey so far”. This book
tells us the whole history of Ilorin i.e. before the town came to be,
how and when it was founded, its geographical location, its
political set up, socio-economics development and most especially
its religious activities including the entrance of Christianity
through the ruling of the colonial masters1. This book is found
useful in some chapters that might concern the indigenous
Eileen Lageer, “Merging Streams: A History of the United
missionary church”. It has only a chapter of her work on Nigeria
and no specific reference to Ilorin Metropolis. It talks about the
arrival of U.M.C.A Missionaries in Nigeria, U.M.C.A was first
established in Patigi in Nupe land. Revd and Mrs. A.W. Banfield
of Onatairo suffered when they first got to Patigi, but their first
task is to learn their language and report with the people. In
within, two years, the pioneers had fallen prey to tropical diseases
and were either buried near Patigi. A.W. Bandfield’s wiry body
and determined bouts of malaria, however, had helped him to
succeed in everything he set out to do. He mastered the Nupe
Language and within ten more years he has reduced it to written.
By 1914 he had translated the whole Bible to Nupe and had
prepared the manuscript for publication2.
“Faith of our Fathers: Life Stories of some U.M.C.A
Elders”, was edited by Lois Fuller. Any group of people who do
not know their history will always be confused about themselves.
U.M.C.A has a wonderful history, and it must be discover. One of
the most interesting ways to learn history is to hear the stories of
the people who took part in the things that happened. The Bible is
full of the stories of men and women of God. God made the Bible
like this because he knows that people are greatly influenced by
other people whose stories are written in the Bible. We can also be
influenced by the stories of other people who followed the Lord.
This book contains the stories of only some of the elders of the
U.M.C.A denomination. These are as followed: Pastor A.
Kolawole: U.M.C.A Efo Amuro, Rev. D.O. Taylor: U.M.C.A
Zungeru, Rev. L.I. Aikali: U.M.C.A Salka, Rev. P.A. Taiwo:
U.M.C.A Olokoto, Rev. D.O. Sunmonu: U.M.C.A Bethlehem
Igbeti, Rev. S.A. Magap: U.M.C.A Tungan Magapya, Rev. S.A.
Adedokun: U.M.C.A Jerusalem Igbeti, Rev. J.A. Amao: U.M.C.A
President then 1980, Rev. G.A. Ogunbode (Jp) U.M.C.A Olivet
Igbeh, Rev. A. Inuwa: U.M.C.A Zuru, Rev. Dr. J.P Harman: Also
U.M.C.A President, Rev. P.J. Isado : U.M.C.A Bida, Pastor: J.
Alangasa: U.M.C.A Salka. All these elders had contributed greatly
to growth and development of U.M.C.A3.
Clare Fuller: “Banfield, Nupe and the U.M.C.A.” In few
years in Nigeria, there are questions and complaints of our youth,
as well as some pastors about the situation of the U.M.C.A. Some
of these questions are quite understandable and actually have
straight forward answers from the history of the church: Some
questions show misunderstanding of our story. Our history is our
memory. A people without a memory is a lost people. However,
history does not have to determine where we will be in the future.
We cannot, if we wanted to, escape the past, but we don’t have to
be bound by it. In fact, we have much to celebrate and thank God
for in the history of our Christian experience as U.M.C.A. We
should love the believers of the past, and respect them. Our
church’s history is a gift to the whole Nigeria church. In the same
way, the stories of other Christian communities are also really
ours and should be read and treasured by us. The church of Jesus
Christ is, and will be, really one. A.W. Banfield served in a
number if Christian organizations. He increased the number of
churches he served, not by founding a new organization himself,
but by finding how his gifts could help the whole design of God. It
may be good to show how one of us served more people for God,
rather than encourage splintering our community4.
Isah, John Jonathan, in his Master thesis at the
U.M.C.A.T.C, Ilorin Kwara State, August, 2009, titled: “An
examination of God’s commandment on Teaching the law in
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and its implications on United Missionary
Church of Africa”. The nation is filled with countless numbers of
robbers, vagabonds and those who do not fear God. The book of
Proverbs 1:7 says that the “Fear of God is the beginning of
wisdom”. Today U.M.C.A members need to be taught the word of
God correctly, sound sermons need to be preached by her
ministers to change peoples perception of life. The book of
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 gave this mandate to parents to teach their
children to love and fear God, this mandate should be extended to
all groups in U.M.C.A i.e. youths men’s fellowship and women
fellowship. God lays much emphasis on the home as the basic
foundation for a child’s life, so whatever he learns at home will
make his future. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up the child in the
way he should go and when he grows up he will not depart from
it”. The implication of the above on U.M.C.A members are that
they need to be taught the correct doctrine to prepare them for
God to bless and use them. The parents need to wake up and take
this great task which God has given to them, because children are
supposed to be a joy for the families (homes) and churches.
People today are not ready to listen to sound doctrine any more.
They now listen to those things that they want to hear (II Tim. 3:1-
10). So, the ministers and parents in U.M.C.A must be up to the
task to give out sound doctrine. God depends on parents to train
their wards in the ways of the Lord5.
Ishola Samuel Olushola in his Master thesis at the
U.M.C.A.T.C, Ilorin Kwara State in August, 2005, titled: “The
impact of U.M.C.A Pastors on Church Growth with reference to
U.M.C.A Jebba district”. The reviewed of this work revealed that
U.M.C.A has grown in Jebba and that the pastors have contributed
to the growth of the church in the district. But then, in spite of all
the contribution and impact of the pastor in the district, there is
still plenty of room for growth. In other words, even though the
pastors in U.M.C.A Jebba district have made much impact in the
area of physical development, they need to put in more effort in
the area of spiritual growth and development of the church. They
need to work hard in the area of soul winning and discipleship of
members, which will certainly bring genuine physical, spiritual
and numerical growth of the District6.
Everck R. Storms “Believers in the missionary church”
edited by Ralph E. Ringenberg. The Missionary Church, as we
know it today, is the result of the union of two denominations of
similar faith: the United Missionary Church and the Missionary
Church Association. Both denominations had their roots in
Mennonite and Anabaptist principles. These people had originated
in the 16th century and were known as very godly people. They
were strongly evangelistic and missionary. Great emphasis was
placed upon personal conversion and living a holy life separate
from the world. They were the first in modern times to preach and
practice religious toleration, separation of church and state, and
democracy in church government. The Bible was their sole source
of spiritual authority, so they reject infant baptism and anything
else not taught in the scriptures. The Missionary Church today
consists of around 350 churches: some 75 in four provinces of
Canada and about 275 in 21 States of the U.S. Michigan has
approximately 70 churches, with more than 50 each in Indian and
Ontario, Ohio has some 40. About 500 ordained and 150 licensed
ministers (including missionaries) hold credentials in the
missionary church. Also there are several full-time evangelists,
whose ministers extended beyond denominational lines. Moreso,
the “inventor” of the scripture text calendar used today by the
protestants, Catholics, Jews and all over the whole wide world.
We should all feel proud to belong to the missionary church.
Others have made it what it is today, but its future depends on us
The constitution and manual of the United Missionary
Church of Africa, 2006. A handbook on the structure and
organization of the church, such as the U.M.C.A Anthem and
motto, name, headquarters, objects, articles of faith, logo and
membership. Moreso, the Organizational Structure, the General
Board, the Executive Committee of the General Board,
Committees, Boards and councils of the General Conference.
Also, the church districts, organization of the church district,
composition and duties of the church district conference.
Furthermore, what consist of the church district, the committees
councils of the C.D.C, the area church councils, the local church
council, offices of the Election Appointment of General officers,
cessation from office of District, Area and Local Officers, Duties
of church District officers, duties of the Area church council
officers and duties of local church officers. And lastly, discipline,
marriage, Rules and Regulation of the Board of Registered
Trustees. All these have been very useful to this work8.
Notes and References
L.A.K. Jimoh, Ilorin: the journey so far (Ilorin: Atoto Press Ltd.
1994), pp. 25-32.
Eileen Lageer: Merging Streams. A history of the United
Missionary Church. (Elkhart: Bethel Publishing Company, 1819),
Clare Fuller: Banfield, Nupe and the U.M.C.A. (Ilorin: Published
by World Partners for the United Missionary Church of Africa,
Everek, R. Storms: History of the United Missionary Society,
(Elkhart: Bethel Publishing Company, 1997), 1-7.
Isah John Jonathan: Master Project, An Examination of God’s
Commandment on Teaching the Law in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and
its Implications on U.M.C.A, 2009.
Ishola Samuel Olushola: Master Project, The Impact of U.M.C.A
Pastors on Church Growth with Reference to U.M.C.A Jebba
A World Partners Publication: Father of our Fathers: Life Stories
of Some U.M.C.A Elders, Edited by Lois Fuller (Published:
(Ilorin: Published by World Partners for U.M.C.A, 1999).
The Constitution and Manuel of the United Missionary Church of
Africa / Ilorin: Oyinwola Printers, 2006), pp. 182.
THE BIRTH OF U.M.C.A
U.M.C.A was formerly known as United Missionary
Society (UMS) was traced back to the Lutheran Church. The
Lutheran Church were practicing the baptism of babies which
some groups within the known as the Anabaptists disagreed with
and broke out of the church.
The Anabaptists broke away from the Lutheran Church
because of some doctrinal indifferences. Some of them gathered to
form a group and named themselves “The Anabaptist”. They
opposed children or babies baptism as was practiced by the
Catholic but only believed in adult baptism. The Anabaptists
originated in Germany and also found in Holland by then due to
the new doctrine of the Anabaptist, they were severely persecuted
to the extent that about thirty-five of their leaders were persecuted
to the extent that about thirty-five of their leaders were executed.
One of the practices of the Anabaptists was that they actually re-
baptized adults who were earlier baptized as babies. That is why
people marked them as the Anabaptists. They believed that a
person should be baptized only after he had confessed faith in
Christ and he was converted. They also taught that a man must not
only believe in Christ but also live a pure life. They insisted that
the government of the state must not tell people what church to
attend or what doctrine to follow but each Christian schooled on
these people, their members rapidly multiplied and waxed strong
in Germany and Holland. They also spread into many countries in
Europe. From the Anabaptists was another group namely the
United Missionary Church. This group believed greatly in the
great commission. So they have missionary vision, evangelism
and outreach. They moved out to other people and nations.
However, a Roman Catholic priest, named Menno Simon joined
the United Missionary Church, after he had been convicted of the
group doctrine. Menno was zealous and evangelical. He traveled
far and wide preaching and witnessing for Christ among the
unreached communities. He was a wise scholar and had leadership
ability, hence, he was soon made the leader of the group. It was
this time the church became to be known as the “Mennonites”.1
In about 1855AD, William Penn an English man, invited
the Mennonites to America. They sailed to America and Canada to
escape persecutions in Europe. They found fertile land, they made
large farms and became rich. This wealth made them to be
spiritual lazy. But there were some of them who were still hunting
and thirsty for God and for His word. These sets of people formed
a group known as the Mennonite Brethren in Christ. They started
by holding meetings in the member’s houses and in schools at
first, till other groups wined them. They later changed their name
back to the former name United Missionary Church. This group
taught that to be a Christian, a person must have a change of heart
through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and thereafter, he will not
continue in sin. They introduced doctrines into the church such as
entire sanctification, divine healing and Baptisms by emersion.2
The United Missionary Church moved to other places to
reach people with the word of God. This method gave them many
converts in a reasonable short time. Young missionaries and
evangelists engaged with home missions, camp meetings with
Bible classes were arranged to teach Christians on how to grow in
grace, faith and in good deeds. The United Missionary Church
organized Sunday school to teach God’s word thoroughly to their
members. These methods brought many sinners to Christ and new
churches immediately spring up in many places. In 1819, Mr.
Hershey arrived Liberia. During the six months of his work in
Liberia, he preached in many places and won a Muslim for Christ,
in Liberia. The death of Mr. Hershey challenged many young
people, so they decided that they too must share the Gospel with
people in other countries.3
2.1 The Coming of U.M.C.A to Nigeria
In 1905, the Christian in America and Canada sent Rev.
A.W. Banfield to Nigeria. He arrived in Port-Harcourt from where
he sailed four hundred miles up the Niger River to Shonga near
Share town. At Shonga Rev. A.W. Banfield began to study the
language of the people which is Nupe, Shonga people were very
much surprised to hear a white man speaking their language in the
market place, telling them of God, only son who came to save
them from their sins.
Rev. Banfield was later named the “White Nupe” because
of his mastery of the Nupe Language which he was now speaking
as if he was born as a Nupe man. He quickly began to translate the
Bible and other Christian books into Nupe language. He opened
the first mission station for UMS in Nigeria and first church of the
denomination on the foreign land.4
In 1906, two more missionaries were sent to Shonga. Miss
Florence Overholt and Miss Cornelia Pannobecker and later
followed by Mrs. J.W. Sherk and Miss Emm. Hosttler in around
1907. All these missionaries tried much to work and later devoted
to build dispensaries and to do medical work in the station. These
attracted more people to come and hear the gospel, they began
primary schools. Upon all these Shonga people were not ready to
receive Christ as their saviour. As a result of this, the work at
Shonga was closed down and the missionaries eventually went
back to Canada between 1907 and 1908. Just a year after A.W.
Banfield landed again to Nigeria and went to Jebba where he
began to make cement blocks for building of a three rooms house
For many years, the U.M.S in Nigeria had its headquarters
in Jebba. In 1953, Ilorin a government center with a population of
fifty thousand was chosen as more suitable place for the mission
In 1955, the U.M.S marked the 50th anniversary of its work
in Nigeria at which time the U.M.C.A. was officially incorporated.
“Today, the U.M.C.A is a well organized body directed by
Africans and recognized for its high standard of Christian living”.
The various home districts that the missionaries to Africa
originated from are not yet dead and are still expanding and
reaching out to other places include the Ontario, Indiana, Ohio,
Michigan, Nebaska, Washington and Canada districts
2.2 Structures of Organization of U.M.C.A.
Before delving into the study of the organization or
structure of the U.M.C.A, his only expedient to look at the
definition of structure “an arrangement or organization, the way in
which parts are formed into a whole. Something formed of many
“Organization, the arrangement or planning of parts so as to
form an effective whole. To unionize”.7 So, on this study
observation on the arrangement and planning of the U.M.C.A is
going to be compiled as to the formation of the society as a whole.
The early leaders of the U.M.C.A adopted a form of church
government that was semi-episcopal. The highest authority was
vested in the General Conference. The latter was composed of the
district superintendents together with ministerial and lay delegates
form each district of the church. The General Conference meets
very three years. The affairs in each district are directed by the
district superintendent for many years known as the presiding
elder. Each district is governed by the district conference which
meets annually. All ministers are considered members of the
conference with each field electing one lay delegate.
All business of local congregation is directed by the local
conference which must meet at least twice in a year. All members
of the church, twenty one years old and over many vote at the
The work of the church is being directed by five
denominational boards, each of which is responsible to the
General Conference. They are the General Board, foreign board,
the church extension board, the publication board, the
coordinating educational board. They meet semi-annually.
The U.M.C.A is hereby constituted and recognized as an
equal and autonomous community of a Christian believers joining
in faith and heritage. It is the universal conviction of the United
Missionary Church of Africa that the office of the Christian
ministry depends upon the call of God who bestows his gifts upon
whom he will. Those whom the U.M.C.A recognize as called of
God and therefore receives into its ministry will, when they must
have fulfilled the requirements, be ordained by the imposition of
hands for spiritual endowment for the ministry and as expression
of the church’s recognition of the ministers call.
The structure of the U.M.C.A allows that the office of any
Christian ministry or minister is ordained by God in the form of a
spiritual calling bestowed on that person on office by spiritual
gifts given to them.
Provision is made through an agreed upon constitution for
the establishment of an annual general conference and the
appointment of church officers, boards, councils and committees
as deemed necessary and that the general conference is always the
final authority in the interpretation of the constitution.8
Properly held in the name of the limited missionary society
shall be transferred to the U.M.C.A by vesting the properly in
people or bodies as may be designated for the purpose of holding
the property of the U.M.C.A. Some other structural concepts of
the church are its:
1. Objectives which is:
In the advancement of Christian religious knowledge and
practice through the operation of the churches, schools and
The provision of places of fellowship where God’s word is
proclaimed, believers are instructed, discipline is exercised,
the sacraments are administered and evangelism
To foster co-operation with Christians of other
2. The constituency i.e. the organization as religious
denominations composed of all member churches, district
conferences all agencies and institutions operated thereby or
affiliated there with.9
In conclusion, we can see the organization of the U.M.C.A
is based on Christian faith, belief and practices.10
2.3 The Doctrinal Beliefs of U.M.C.A.
The church is evangelical and as such accepts the totality of
the Bible and its final authority in matters pertaining to faith and
The divine inspiration, authority and sufficiency of the Holy
The right and duty of personal judgment in the
interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
The unity of God head and trinity of persons therein. The
total depravity of human nature in consequence of the fall and
need of regeneration. The incarnation of the son of God. His
atoning death and resurrection for sinners and mankind, and his
mediatorial intercession and reign.
The justification of the sinners by faith alone. The work of
the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners, the purification and
filling of believers by the Holy Spirit.
The immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body
and the judgment of the word by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The divine institutions of the Christian ministry, the
obligation and lord’s supper.11
U.M.C.A believes in the triune God as God, self existent,
personal, immutable and eternal being. She believers that God is
the creator and sustainer of the universe (Psalm 139:7-10);
U.M.C.A believes in Bible, consisting of the sixty-six (66)
books of both the old and new testaments (II Tim. 3:16; I Peter
1:25). U.M.C.A also believes that man was created in the image of
God but fell into sin and therefore was lost and only through
regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be
obtained. (Gen. 1:27; Acts 4:12; Rom. 3:23).
U.M.C.A believes in Jesus Christ as the only begotten son
of God. He is fully God and fully man, his true teaching and
perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world, his death on the cross; his
bodily resurrection from the dead and his intercession (John 1:19;
3:16; Tiles 2:13; Hebrew 4:15).
U.M.C.A believes in the Holy Spirit as the third person of
the God head and that through his illumination, conviction and
regeneration, men are brought to repentance and faith in Jesus
Christ; his continuing work of sanctification in the lives of
believers; and their divine preservation onto eternal life (Acts 1:8;
Rom. 10:9-10; Gal. 2:13).
U.M.C.A believes in the universal church as a body
composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have been
called out from the world, separated from sin and virtually united
by faith to Christ, her head and sovereign lord. In the local church
as an organized body of believers who are joined together and
who meet at regular times for teaching the word, fellowship of the
saints, observation of the ordinances of baptism and Holy
communion, administration of discipline and love, prayer and
participation in public worship and worldwide evangelism, and in
the divinely given ministers of pastors, evangelists, preachers,
missionaries, teachers and deacons (Acts 6L1-6; Eph. 4:11-13).
U.M.C.A believes in the physical second advent of Christ
which is the hope of the church, the source of her encouragement,
consolation, and up-building for purification, holiness and
inspiration for activity and service; the resurrection of the body
and final judgment of all men, the eternal perfection and
blessedness of the saved, and the eternal punishment of the lost
(John 14:1-3; I Thess. 4:13-18; Heb. 12:5-8; Rev. 21:7-22).12
Notes and References
E.R. Storms, History of the United Missionary Society, (Indiana:
Bethel Publishing Company 1958), p. 14.
M. Lageer, Merging Streams (Indiana: Bethel Publishing
1979), p. 179-182.
E.R. Storms, History of the U.M.S; p. 246.
U.M.C.A Constitution, pp. 2 – 3.
U.M.C.A. Ministers’ Manual, pp. 12-13.
C.H. Smith, The Story of the Mennonites (Newton:Kansas:
Mennonite Publication Company, 1979), p.15.
Ibid; p. 34.
R. Qurik, Longman: Dictionary of Contemporary English,
(London: Longman Publishing House, 1992), p. 1050.
Ibid; p. 725.
THE EMERGENCE OF U.M.C.A IN ILORIN
3.1 A Brief History of Ilorin
Ilorin as a Yoruba settlement, is widely believed to have
been built in the 17th century by an itinerant hunter from Ganibe
near Oyo-Ile. The hunter was called Ojo. At the time of Ojo’s
arrival, the place known as Ilorin was mostly a virgin land
inhabited only be a hermit Baruba family at a place which still
called ‘Baruba” near “Idi-Ape” in Ilorin central. It was not the
intention of Ojo as an itinerant hunter to establish a settlement
“He only incidentally found near the hut where the Baruba
hermit was living, a well positioned rock that was remarkably
suitable for sharpening tolls and decided to erect a transit camp at
the site. The rock being a good metal sharpener was called ‘Ilo-
irin’ meaning “Iron sharpener” by the Yoruba.1 The name Ilorin is
therefore believed to be a contraction of ‘Ilo-irin’. Another
mythological explanation suggests that Ilorin was a derivation of
‘Ilu-erin’, the town of ‘elephants’. This particular mythological
postulation was given some authenticity by the reported killing in
1824 of an elephant on the outskirts of Ilorin, at a place henceforth
called ‘Oko-erin’ which at present is the location of Kwara State
However, the single incident of killing a probably stray
elephant on the outskirts of the town in 1824 is nowadays not
considered, sufficient to justify the presumption that ‘Ilorin’ is a
corruption of ‘Ilu-erin’. It is now more widely accepted that Ilorin
was derived from ‘Ilo-irin’.1
It is not known how long Ojo remained in Ilorin or what
development occurred in the town during his sojourn in it. What is
obvious is that he was driven away from the town by another
itinerant hunter called Eminla who was also from Oyo-Ile. Eminla
marched into Ilorin to punish Ojo for being licentious and for
tarnishing the image of other professional hunters. Ojo fled from
Ilorin before Eminla arrived and was never heard of again.
On arrival in Ilorin, Eminla too pitched his tent near the
legendary rock ‘Ilo-irin’ to ensure Rill vigil over it in case Ojo
returned to sharpen his tools there. “The spot where Eminla built
his tent is now called ‘Ile Bamidele’ which lies across the
boundary between Baruba quarters and Idi-Ape where the rock
can still be found”2. There is also no reliable information about the
several years that followed that era until ladern the great grand
father of Afonja arrived in the town early in the 18th century.
Afonja grew up to become a great to warrior. He was an
African traditionalist and he became friends with the Malians also
known as the Jaama’s who came down south to trade and spread
the gospel of Islam. These people were valiant men of war. They
became Afonja’s defence ministers and military strength, and with
their help he was able to overcome a lot of towns in battle. After
Afonja became the Kakanfo and his military strength, the
Jaamaa’s (Muslims) learned against him in animosity and ended
up in a civil stripe, Afonja was killed in the strife and the Fulanis
took over the reins of power and established the Fulani dynasty in
Ilorin town. However, the establishment of Fulani dynasty did not
obliterate the Yoruba factor in Ilorin which has remained till this
days Yoruba speaking community despite its ethno-cultural
3.2 U.M.C.A.T.C and Chapel District
The U.M.C.A. Theological College was established in the
year 1955, by Missionaries from the United Missionary Church of
Canada. It was intended to provide higher theological education
above the three existing vernacular Bible schools. Then, it was
intended to be a place of training where prospective pastors,
teachers and missionaries from any part of the world could attend.
The initial support for the College came fully from the Missionary
Church of Canada. The first three and fifth Principal of the
College were Canadians. The fourth, and sixth to eight principals,
later called provosts till date, were Nigerians. The college was
initially called United Missionary Society College (UMSC), until
1978, when the Missionaries handed over full administration to
Nigerians, then the name became United Missionary Theological
College (U.M.T.C). in 1997, the name of the college was changed
to United Missionary Church of Africa Theological College
(UMCATC) With the hand over, financing become largely the
responsibly of the United Missionary Church of Africa
(U.M.C.A.) with some financial assistance from Canada.
Missionaries come from time to time from Canada to augment the
staff strength. The financial needs of the College today are met by
students fees to the tune of up to 90%.
The college has graduated about 3,000 students since its
inception, with at least 70% of them engaged in pastoral work and
cross-cultural missions in Nigeria and abroad. Others teach
Christian religion in primary and secondary schools. They have
graduated up to 100 students at the Master Degree Level. Some of
the graduates are known to serve in Liberia, Ghana, USA and
Canada. A majority are in Nigeria. Some of the graduates are
holding prestigious professional positions in national universities,
while many others are in leadership position in different church
denominations both in Nigeria and abroad. Some of them are,
(Rev. (H) Paul Vincent. In New York, USA), Rev. Prof. S.O.
Abogunrin, Ven. Prof. A.O. Abe, Rt. Rev. Gbonigi, and Rev. Prof.
M.F. Akangbe and others.3
The Mission of the College includes:
1. To lead each students to a fuller experience of Christ as
saviour and lord, and to the development of a truly
2. To guide each students into a more through knowledge of
the word of God and to equip him or her with methods for
continuing personal study.
3. To guide students a love for, and a dedication to the church
and to show them their place in its world wide commission.
4. To train effective Christian religions knowledge teachers
for primary and secondary schools.
5. To train pastors and evangelists to serve effectively in their
pastoral and prophetic ministers.
6. To make students aware of the relationship between church
Their priory is to prepare called men and women, both
academically and spiritually to be effective witnesses for Christ
and to provide effective leadership for the church. The college
affiliated to the University of Ibadan for B.A. Religious studies
and Diploma in Religious studies. The college has a
correspondence status with the Accrediting council for
Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) and they have applied
for Accredited States, which is yet to be granted. The college is
also affiliated to the University of Ilorin for Diploma in Religious
The College is set up and is owned by the United
Missionary Church of Africa (U.M.C.A) in Nigeria, which
associated with world partners (an association of Missionary
Churches in U.S.A, Canada and Africa).
U.M.C.A Chapel District came into existence in January
1988, and it is one of the vibrant existing districts of U.M.C.A
denomination currently in Nigeria. The Chapel District at that
time was made up of the U.M.C.A.T.C Chapel and the smaller
Nupe, Igala and Idoma Churches. They had their first and pioneer
church District Superintendent (CDS) as Revd. J.T. Harman in
1988, he ran for just one only term in the office as the C.D.S of
The second C.D.S was Revd. Olu Peters (1989-1994) and it
was during his tenure that UMCA Lokoja and some other mission
stations were established. The third C.D.S was Revd. C.O.
Ogunkunle (1994 to 1997). Rev. Gbenga Odebiri took over from
Revd. C.O. Ogunkunle as the C.D.S in 1997 and he served for 8
In 2005, under a free and fair election, the baton of
leadership as C.D.S fell on Revd. S.O. Oladejo, he came from
U.M.C.A Chapel of Redemption and he served for 5 years
between 2005 to 2010. From 2011 Revd. Jonathan became the
district superintendent up to date. Currently, there are 25 churches
all together. The district has 38 pastors.
The Headquarters of the district is U.M.C.A Chapel,
situated along Tanke, Ilorin, Kwara State. The district is planning
to secure a land and build their headquarter there.6
3.3 U.M.C.A Ilorin District
The U.M.C.A Ilorin district church conference
(UMCAIDC) is one of the 22 existing districts of U.M.C.A
denomination currently in Nigeria. The District of U.M.C.A, is
one of the most vibrant districts which was carved out of the
former Kwara district was formerly an Area Church Council
(ACC) under the then Kwara district (chapter) before its formation
in January 1st, 1999.
The noble district of U.M.C.A Ilorin district had Revd. Olu
Abraham Okedare as her first and pioneer church district
superintendent (CDS). He ran two terms of office as CDS from
1999 to 2004. In 2004, under a free and fair election, the batton of
leadership as CDS fell on Revd. Israel Olaiya Lawal.
Presently, the District has Revd. S.T. Abraham as her CDS
with about 14 churches under the district covering both Kwara and
Kogi States. Amongst these 14 churches, the district has twelve
(12) vibrant churches and other two (2) as preaching stations. This
district has 15 pastors that are full time pastor. The Headquarters
of this chapter of U.M.C.A is U.M.C.A, sanctuary of Glory, Pake
situated along Ipata market, Ilorin, Kwara State.7
3.4 Sahorami District
This district was carved out of the Salka district in 1986.
The district has 6 zones under it and the zones are controlled by
one district superintendent (CDS). The first CDS was Revd. Paul
Isado and he served the district for 3 years, it was during his term
that he lost his wife and his wife was buried at the church
premises. He succeeded in promoting so many pastors and he
established some new churches during his term. He married
another woman. In 1998, they conducted another election and
Revd. Joshua Dawa was emerged as the winner, also he promoted
pastors and some new churches was added to the district. He
served for 3 years in the office as the CDS of the district.
In 2011, there was another election, which another CDS
was elected. And he was Revd. Sam Ibutako, he served for 6years.
He also followed the footsteps of the past C.D.S. Another election
was conducted and Revd. Joshua Dawa was reelected and he was
the C.D.S up to date. U.M.C.A. Hausa church in Taiwo is under
this noble district.
The district has it headquarter at Niger State. Two zones
have 27 churches each, another 2 zones have 10 churches, each, 1
zone have 11 churches and lastly one have 17 churches. And
together 92 churches are under the Sahorami district, the district
have 45 pastors that are full time pastor.8
Notes and References
L.A.K. Jimoh, Ilorin: The Journey so far (Atoto Press Ltd.
Ilorin); pp. 25-26.
M. Lageer, Merging Streams (Elkhart : Bethel Publishing
Company, 1979); p. 191.
Constitution of the U.M.C.A., (Ilorin: Tomaprints, 2006).
An Interview with Revd. Jonathan Isah, a Revd. At U.M.C.A.
Nupe, April 17, 2012; 45years.
An Interview with Snr. Pastor Dr. S.T. Babatunde at U.M.C.A.
Chapel District, April 15, 2012; 48years
An Interview with Revd. Ibrahim at U.M.C.A. Hausa Church.
March 19, 2012; 46years.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF U.M.C.A TO THE DEVELOPMENT
OF ILORIN METROPOLIS
4.1 Religious contributions to the Ilorin Metropolis
The U.M.C.A as a whole has been able to contribute largely
to the development of Ilorin Metropolis. The greatest vision of the
U.M.C.A is known to be missionary work, the spread and the
teaching of the gospel. In effect of this vision, they have not left
the Ilorin Metropolis ignorant of their existence in the evangelical
activities in and around Ilorin Metropolis and have established
churches in villages around Ilorin Metropolis. Examples are
U.M.C.A Chapel of Grace servicing at Asan and Ori-oke
communities near the Kwara State Polytechnic, U.M.C.A church
at Pampo which serves the Pampo community. Also U.M.C.A
church at Yakuba, which they normally have their service in one
of the member’s house (Dn. E.B. Olatomiwa), another U.M.C.A
church at Laduba and Ori-Eru which serves these communities as
well.1 This we can say is just a little of their many religious
contributions. Within the Ilorin metropolis itself the church has
the chapel headquarters in the same premises with the theological
college and another major chapels at Tanke and Gaa-Akanbi.
Also, is the Pake church by the Ipata market in the centre of the
town. All these and other smaller chapels serve the town as places
Another aspect of religious contribution is in the area of
evangelical activities. The church is involved in winning
thousands of souls in and around Ilorin during major outreaches.
These outreaches usually take place during the Easter period and
the month of November every year.
The U.M.C.A has a good number of fellowships which
include men’s fellowships, young adults, youth fellowship and
women fellowship and others. These fellowships team up and also
go on individual evangelical missions several times a year and win
thousands of souls into the fold and they also ensure a lot of lives
get rededicated or saved.
All the branches of U.M.C.A in Ilorin metropolis have
helped to improve the lot of the citizenry by extending an arm of
love to them through charity. Some of which are, all kinds of
benevolence to the poor and needy, various materials and food
items to motherless babies homes and less privileged in their
different established fields.
The U.M.C.A has also been known through the theological
school which is a degree awarding tertiary institution. This
theological school in the past and till date has been a breeding
place for religious leaders. The U.M.C.A.T.C Chapel which is
located in the Ilorin Metropolis has made it possible for important
meetings of CAN to hold there regularly.2
Another religious contribution we can take note of
concerning the U.M.C.A is in the case of the Nupe version of the
Holy Bible. The existence of the Nupe Bible came into being
through a missionary A.W Banfield who after many years of
living and ministering to the Nupe people, was able to make a
successful translation of the English Bible into the Nupe language.
This is still very much in use till today among the tribe.
4.2 Social Contributions
In every community that the U.M.C.A enters and take root,
it has always impacted the community in many positive ways
especially religiously, educationally and socially. In this case, we
will be taking a look at the ways by which it has impacted the
Ilorin community socially.
In the case of state activities during independent day
celebrations U.M.C.A churches in the state of Kwara would come
under U.M.C.A and represent Christians and Christianity as a
whole in the state capital which is Ilorin. In the case whereby the
nation is concerned, the headquarters of the U.M.C.A being in
Ilorin town always make it possible for the town to be exposed to
the positive effects of Christian activities. The U.M.C.A being a
national and international body has also bought about the coming
of foreign missionaries from U.S.A. and Canada into the city. This
has also bought about a lot of enlightenments to its citizenry.
The U.M.C.A own a lot of facilities which have been
available to the Ilorin community. In the case sports they have a
standard field in the theological college premises. They have halls
and free spaces in the different chapel premises for various
occasions such as weddings, meetings, educational programmes
and seminars. All these are available to the public at scheduled
In the past when airing television and radio programmes
was not very commercial. The U.M.C.A was used as a point of
contact to the masses through the local television and radio
stations. These stations seek their helps to be able to promote
Christian seasonal activities especially during the Christians and
The main township in Ilorin was limited from the Oloje
areas through the markets and its environs. Since the entrance of
U.M.C.A into Ilorin and the shifting of the headquarters from
Jebba to Ilorin, the church has added geographical spread to the
state. The situation of the headquarters which also has the
theological college in it at Gaa-Akanbi. This part was an outskirt
of the town initially and it was an uncivilized forestry till it started
bringing about civilization to the area. Then it started getting
commercialized with industries such as Matchco, Asco oil and
international tobacco company. Soon after it became residential as
well and today the town has even spread beyond this area which is
presently always bubbling with activities.
The same goes for the Tanke branch which was established
in 1991 in the suburbs of Tanke and it is beginning to attract
activities as this is also the location of the chapel secondary
school. The presence of those two and others have brought about a
productive spread of the township.
The presence and private parastatals in the state has been
able to influence the towns work force positively by the moral and
Christian beliefs that is being shared through the U.M.C.A. This
will therefore promote Godliness in these places which will no
doubt impact the state as well.
4.3 Educational Contributions
The U.M.C.A has founded educational institutions both
secular and religious in the form of a primary and secondary
school of high standards, such as: Chapel Nursery and Primary
School, Chapel Secondary School, U.M.C.A High School and
U.M.C.A Pake Nursery and Primary School, and a degree
awarding theological college in form of a tertiary institution.
These institutions are open to the community of both Ministers of
the gospel and lay people as well. Entrance examinations are taken
for admissions of all and sundry into these schools with fair and
The existence of the primary and secondary has also
provided employment opportunities for qualified people in the
state. The various church administrative works too have been open
to competent job seekers in the state.
Notes and References
Interview with Dn. E.B. Olatomiwa, member of the U.M.C.A
church Yakuba. 25th Dec. 2011, 70 years.
The constitution and manual of the U.M.C.A (Ilorin : Oyinwola
Interview with Rev. S.T. Abraham, Pastor of the U.M.C.A
church, Pake, 14th Nov. 2011, 48.
E.R. Storms, History of the United Missionary Society (Bethel
Publishing Company 1958); p.79.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
This work has examined a portion of one of the church
histories in the world. The church, that is a body of Christ as a
whole, has undergone a lot of phrases, some or probably all the
phrases ranging from persecutions to growth and expansion has
been touched in one way or the other in this work. This gives an
insight into what it takes to establish a Christian ministry and keep
In summarizing this work, we are going to take a look at
each chapter and what it entails. The first chapter is an
introduction to the study. It gives a background for the work, the
statement of problem, the aim of the study and the justification of
the study. Also the method by which the work was organized, it
also enlightens us on the scope and the limitations encountered in
the process of the study. And lastly, the literature review of the
literary materials used in compiling the work.
The second chapter looked into the birth of the church that
is being studied. In this case the historical origin of the U.M.C.A
was traced through its Anabaptists days to its Mennonite days.
Then the spread of the church across the world. In the line of this
spread came persecutions that the church faced. Chapter two also
consisted of the structures or the organization of U.M.C.A. This
extends to their objectives, their constituency and their doctrinal
The third chapter is narrowed down to U.M.C.A in Ilorin
metropolis. The chapter looked at the districts i.e. U.M.C.A.T.C
Chapel, Ilorin district, Chapel district and Sahorami district how
they came into being, the year, how many churches are under the
each district and lastly their district superintendent (C.D.S) and
The fourth chapter examined the contributions of U.M.C.A
to the development of Ilorin metropolis. In this way, the religious
achievements of the church to the development of the city of
Ilorin, the social and educational contributions.
The last chapter summarizes, contribution to knowledge and
concludes the work.
5.2 Contribution to Knowledge
The United Missionary Church of Africa has played a
pertinent role in the religious, socio-economic and educational
development in Ilorin metropolis. As one of the evangelical
churches in Ilorin metropolis, it has served as an example to new
generation churches to look back and have a self examination and
evaluation of their ministries. In other words, new generation
churches must emulate the U.M.C.A. in preaching the Gospel of
Also, the U.M.C.A. has succeeded in educating the general
public, and it has brought about improvement in the lives of the
people in Ilorin metropolis. Therefore, this is a challenge to all
Christians and ministries in Ilorin metropolis to have visions that
are close to that of U.M.C.A to carry out their primary assignment
of spread the gospel of Christ.
Christians and various denominations in Ilorin metropolis
must learn to spread the gospel through evangelism and sound
education. When this is done, positive impact shall be made on
individual’s lives and there shall be peace growth and
development in Ilorin metropolis in particular and Nigeria in
This research work has revealed that U.M.C.A has grown in
Ilorin metropolis. The church has recorded a lot of success since
its inception in Ilorin metropolis, religiously, socially and
Religiously, the church has at least made the people to be
more religious than they were before and it has been able to
spread the gospel of Christ in all over Ilorin metropolis, because
they have churches all over Ilorin metropolis.
Socially, the church has been able to provide welfare
programmes for many people in Ilorin metropolis.
Educationally, the church has been able to promote Western
education in the town. The church had succeeded in establishing
primary schools, secondary schools and theological college in the
metropolis, which has greatly helped in the development of the
metropolis and the state.
Address by the chairman, U.M.C.A Forum Church Pamphlet,
Address by the Chairman, U.M.C.A. General Conference, Church
Oyalana, A.S. Christianity in West Africa up to 1914, 2000.
The Constitution of the U.M.C.A. Ilorin : Toma Prints, 2006.
U.M.C.A. Rules and Regulation : Church Handbook, 1998.
Fuller, C. Banfield, Nupe and the U.M.C.A. A World Partners
Fuller, L. Faith of our Fathers : Life Stories of Some U.M.C.A
Elders, A World partners Publication, 1999.
Jonathan, J.I. An Examination of God’s Commandment on
Teaching the Law in Deuteronomy 6.6-9 and its implications of
U.M.C.A., Master of Arts in Theological Studies at
Ishola, S.O.The Impact of U.M.C.A Pastors on Church Growth
with Reference to U.M.C.A Jebba District, Master of Divinity at
the U.M.C.A, 2005.
Jimoh, L.A.K. Ilorin : The Journey so far Ilorin: Atoto Press Ltd.
Lageer, M. Merging Streams : Elkhart : Publishing Company,
Smith, C.H. The Story of the Mennonites, Newton: Kansas
Mennonite Publication Company, 1979.
Qurik R. Longman: Dictionary of Contemporary English, London:
Longman Publishing House, 1992.
Abraham S.T. Rev. U.M.C.A, Pake, Ilorin, 48years, 14/11/2011.
Babatunde S.T. Pastor, U.M.C.A. Chapel, Tanke, Ilorin, 51years,
Ibrahim Pastor, U.M.C.A., Hausa Church, Taiwo, Ilorin, 46years,
Jonathan I. Rev. U.M.C.A., Nupe, Ilorin, 47years, 15/04/2012.
Olatomiwa E.B. Deacon, U.M.C.A., Pake, Ilorin,70years,