Anambra Mission

By Ndubuisi Martin Emereonye

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Ndubuisi Martin Emereonye

First Published: November 28, 2021

Anambra Mission is a part of Eastern Nigeria Union Conference of the West-Central African Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Formerly part of the Anambra-Imo Conference, Anambra Mission was organized in 2015. Its headquarters is in Nkpor, Anambra State, Nigeria.

Territory: Anambra State.

Statistics (June 30, 2021): Churches, 16; membership, 2,427; population, 6,206,606

Brief History of Anambra State

Anambra State was created on August 27, 1976, from part of East Central State,1 during the military regime of General Murtala Mohammed, with its capital in Enugu.2 In 1991, military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, during a states creation exercise, divided the state into two – Anambra and Enugu States, with their capitals at Awka and Enugu, respectively. “Anambra State is bounded by Delta and Edo States to the West, Imo and Rivers States to the South, Enugu State to the East and Kogi State to the North.” It derived its name from Anambra River (Oma Mbala) that traverses the state.3 The name “Anambra” is an anglicized version of the original “Oma Mbala,” the native name of the Anambra River.4 The indigenous ethnic group in Anambra State is Igbo, which constitutes 98% of its population and a small population of Igala, which accounts for 2 percent of the entire population.5 According to 2006 national census, its population was put at 4,177,828.6 However, the estimated population of Anambra State as of June 30, 2020, stood as 6,052,204.7

The Beginnings

From currently available information, it is difficult to precisely trace the entrance of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Anambra State to a particular point in view of the variant stories about its beginnings and developments. This is also because of the various entry points of the Adventist Message into Anambra as a state, none of which could be seen and regarded as the first that gave birth to others.

In the early 1940s, Isaac Obiefuna received the Seventh-day Adventist message while residing in Aba, now in the Abia State of Nigeria. Upon reception of the message, he eagerly brought it to Obosi, in Anambra, his hometown. Some of his family members gladly accepted the message, and the family graciously donated a piece of land to build a place of worship.8 Unfortunately, when Isaac died, his family, with the exception of one of his children – Paul Obiefuna9 – returned to their past Roman Catholic faith. This action of the majority of his family members nearly extinguished the light Mr. Isaac strove to kindle in Obosi. Another opportunity for spreading the Adventist message in Obosi was short lived as one of Isaac’s friends from Onitsha who accepted this message in the 1950s “and took it to the site that is now known as ‘Army Barracks’, [but] not many people followed him, so at his death, the Church died.”10

Another bearer of the Seventh-day Adventist message in Anambra State was Abraham Anieke Osakwe Ndubuisi (1906-1964). He embraced the Adventist message in Awka, in about 1936. He defended the message among his kinsmen and got all his seven children baptized into the Church. Later, his children became leaders in various departments of the Church.11 What Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:34-35 came to fruition in the life of the young Adventist believers as there followed hostility, isolation, and persecution from the Awka community. This situation compelled the Ndubuisi family to move to Umuahia to be able to freely worship God based on their newfound faith. Abraham Ndubuisi, while living in Umuahia, remained a Seventh-day Adventist member until his death. His children remained in the faith after their father’s demise.12 Despite hostility and persecution the Ndubuisi family experienced in Awka, Ifeanyi Ndubuisi, Abraham Ndubuisi’s son, returned to his family home in Awka in 1975. His collaboration with literature evangelists Elder Nwosu and Elder Ezekiel Ogbonna, among others, led to the establishment of a branch Sabbath School at Awka in 1976, which has grown to give birth to every other church in the Awka district of churches.13At its inception, the church was meeting at Ifeanyi Ndubuisi’s family house. Due to increase in membership, the church moved to one school building and later to some other premises until her permanent site at Aguoye, Awka, in 2010. Some of the ministers who served in the church in this area were pastors S. I. Anuligo, F. O. Ubani, I. B. Mewu, and others.14

In another region of Anambra state, Emmanuel Obiekwe (1915-2016) was instrumental in establishing the Adventist Church in the Nibo community. Obiekwe received the Adventist message while visiting Northern Nigeria. He later returned home in Nibo with the message and established a branch Sabbath School in the community. His family house later became one of the foremost Seventh-day Adventist Church buildings in Anambra State. In 1981, Pastor F. O. Ubani saw the need to merge the Nibo Church with the Awka Church. However, ten years later, the church administration allowed the churches to function as separate entities in order to better serve their communities.15

In Nkpor and Onitsha, which served as cosmopolitan cities and business hubs in the 1950s and which still maintain this status today, the Adventist message found its entrance through the help of traders from other states around 1958. These traders who were from places like Aba, Akpatu, etc., settled at Fegge, Onitsha, and started a branch Sabbath School at the Government Primary School in Fegge, Onitsha. Elder C. N. Okeke, an indigene of Nkpor community returned home from Jengre in Plateau State with his family. Upon returning, Elder Okeke joined the few members of the church.16

Okeke came from a Roman Catholic background. He accepted the Adventist message while in the Northern part of Nigeria and was baptized in 1956. His initial attempt to plant the Adventist Church in his community took place in 1964 when he contacted Pastor Okata for the first Open Air Evangelistic Campaign in the Nkpor community. It was after the Nigeria/Biafra War (1966-1970) that S. N. Okeke and his family returned to Nkpor, and in 1974, a full-fledged church was established. On October 11, 1983, the church was organized by Pastor I. Nwaobia, the then-president of East Nigeria Conference. Furthermore, as G. O. C. Agharanya corroborated the above fact, their existence in Onitsha started in 1974. This was because of the presence of young school leavers (persons who have not yet entered employment) from Aba and traders from different places who met and worshipped together at the Government Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha, from early 1970s until when the Church (Onitsha Township Church I) was organized in October 1983. Some of the members of the Church at that time included: Elder M. E. Johnson, Emmanuel Nnakwu, Elder R. A. Duru, Emmanuel Nwaigwe, Dickson Enyinnaya, Eze Ihesiulo, Samuel Nwamara, Kachi Nwagbara (Choir Leader), Ogbu Ukpai from Ohafia, Emmanuel Boakye (Ghanaian), Uzoaru (Nnewi Branch), Elder Noah Nkuma, Okechi Appolos, Elder Uwakwe O., Chinyeaka John, Elder Irondi J. C., Nduruka O., a sister known as “Mama Oba,” Ikechi Alozie, and others too numerous to mention here.17 In addition, the following ministers served the Church at different times: pastors P. O. Emelogu, I. C. Ekpendu, E. E. Nwosu, Nwachukwu Anthony, F. O. Ubani, D. U. Nwadike, Nwokeji Mkpo, A. I. Inyama, John Onuoha, Innocent A. Amaefule, John Onwurah Madu, Mewu I. B., and others.18

The planting and establishment of the church in the Umunze community followed the trend common in the previous churches discussed above. A group of Adventist members who lived there from 1978-1980 met and erected a church building. This group was organized on April 5, 2015. Worthy of mention are the ministers and some members who labored for the Lord here: pastors: Nwokeji Mkpo, I. B. Mewu, J. M. Onwurah; Evangelist Olewe Otis Anaebue, Deaconess Ida Ibeyere, Deaconess Cecilia Eze, Ndubuisi Ogbuokiri, Basil Uruigwe, etc.19

Anambra-Imo Conference

On July 13, 1986, at the Ebikoro Primary School, Emii, Owerri in Imo State, a group of Adventist members gathered, for the first time, to discuss the actualization of Imo Mission. These members were led by Pastor Dominic Ukabara Nwadike.20 They were: Elder Godwin O. Onwuanyi – Chairman; Elder Edmund O. Uroegbulam – Organizing Secretary; Elder Robinson N. Otuneme, Financial Secretary; Elder Shedrack N. Emeribe, Treasurer. Others included elders Martin O. Ugoh, Jacob Onyekwuo, Sabinus D. Mbonu, Friday I. Oriaku, Raphael Eguzoro, Aaron A. Ugwa, Godson Onwuamegbu Orji, Samuel C. Onwubere, Deacons: Christian E. Chikeka, Earnest N. Muruako, Joel Ulokanma, Jonathan Echenini, and Christopher C. Nwachukwu.21

Over time, the quest for the creation of Imo Mission formed the nucleus of the Steering Committee that then sought to incorporate Anambra in the new mission to be created. The reason for adding Anambra to Imo State to form a new combined mission was because members from Anambra had to traverse the whole of Imo State to get to Aba for any meeting of the conference if they still belong to East Nigeria Conference. Thus, it was considered awkward for the members from the neighboring state of Anambra to remain part of the East Nigeria Conference once the church in Imo State assumed mission status.22 Members from Anambra, when contacted with this development, welcomed the idea of a merger with Imo State. Elders Daniel Abalogu Jnr., and Iwuanyanwu from Anambra joined the Steering Committee to assist in the actualization of Anambra-Imo Mission.23 Over the course of the seventeen years it took to establish the Anamra-Imo Mission, the following members served on the Steering Committee: Elders Benjamin O. Okehi, Edward N. Oparaugo – Chairman, Dr. Christian N. Igwe, Edmond O. Uroegbulam – General Secretary, Sabinus D. Mbonu, Godwin I. Nzeh, A. C. Onwukwe – Vice Chairman, Franklin C. Emereonye, Eleazer C. Mbataku – Assistant Secretary/Financial Secretary, Eric Nwanedo, Barr. K. U. K. Anyanwu – Public Relations Officer, Godwin Akuchie, Rowland Okoronkwo, Ukwuoma S. O., Stephen Okpe, Maxwell Onwuzuruike, Tony Opara, Chidi Ogbuihe, James Ayiam, Obiajunwa, Duruzo, Nwachukwu Nkume, Moses Meribe, Thank God Nwachukwu,24 Wilfred N. Nwadike, Peter S. Odunze, Engr. Charles Nkume, S. O. Igbokwe, Elder John C. Alozie, Ekeneme Anyanwu, and Pastor Dominic Ukabara Nwadike.25

After a series of consultations with the East Nigeria Conference, the Nigeria Union Mission, and the Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and a visit by President Luka Tambaya Daniel, the Nigeria Union Mission leadership saw the need to reorganize the church in the eastern part of Nigeria. Before the president’s visit, there was a reorganization seminar held at the proposed headquarters (Owerri) by Pastor C. N. Bayne, the then-director of Stewardship, African-Indian Ocean Division. The success of this seminar heightened the resolve of the leadership of both the Nigeria Union Mission and the Africa-Indian Ocean Division to grant the request for the creation of the conference. At this juncture, the Nigeria Union Mission appointed leaders (Valentine C. Onwubuariri – Administrator, Iheanyi Bonny Mewu – Secretary, Chimobi Elukpo – Associate Treasurer, Ephraim U. Okpulor – Director of Stewardship, Family Ministries, Youth and Chaplaincy, and Okechukwu Mbaeri – Director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries) to pioneer the work. To the glory of God, on July 1, 2001, the field officially took off as Anambra-Imo Administrative Unit with a membership of 6,991 and 39 organized churches, 65 unorganized churches, and a workforce of 22.26

On February 1, 2003, after 18 months of her operation as an Administrative Unit, 17 years (1986-2003) of consultations with our church leaders, and through God’s providence, the Anambra-Imo Administrative Unit was inaugurated into a full-fledged conference, and the three officers were retained. However, at its maiden constituency session, Pastor Valentine C. Onwubuariri – President – and Elder Chimobi Elukpo were reelected while Pastor Ephraim U. Okpulor replaced the previous secretary, Pastor Iheanyi Bonny Mewu. It should be noted that Anambra-Imo Conference was carved out of East Nigeria Conference and East Central Conference, with six districts from each of the conferences.27

Emergence of the Anambra Mission

The creation of Anambra Mission was without struggles, agitations, and long years of consultations, unlike Anambra-Imo Administrative Unit/Conference, but it also had its peculiar challenges. In view of slow growth of the church in Anambra State, the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference deemed it expedient to reorganize Anambra-Imo Conference after 10 years. According to Ephraim U. Okpulor, the leadership of the union felt that for the church in Anambra to grow, a close administrative presence was needed. Moreover, the burden of supervising the church from Imo State also became too expensive as a result of heavy overhead costs.28

The action of the Union to reorganize the conference was implemented at Ihiala in Anambra State during the constituency session held December 14 to 16, 2012.29 The reorganization established Anambra Administrative Unit and, following this development, Pastor Ifeanyi Bonny Mewu became the Administrator, Ubalutum Okoye – Secretary, while Nnamdi Okagbue was the Treasurer.30 This constituency session marked the end of the Anambra-Imo Conference and gave birth to the Anambra Administrative Unit.

The number of ministers serving in the Anambra Administrative Unit at its inception was five, three of which were ordained: Pastors Ifeanyi B. Mewu, Ubatulum Christian Okoye and Obinna Michael Akubude, and two commissioned pastors: Nnaemeka Cyril Okoli and Godwin Chux Obiora. The workforce later increased in 2013 as Pastor John Onwura returned from the Imo Conference. However, the pioneer president, Pastor Ifeanyi B. Mewu, retired from active service in December 2014.31

In 2015, less than three years of its operation as administrative unit, this unit attained mission status.32 Upon this happened, the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference sent Dr. Kingsley C. Anonaba to take over the mantle of leadership following the retirement of their pioneer president, Pastor Ifeanyi B. Mewu. Others sent along with the president included Elder Nnamdi Okagbue – secretary/treasurer and Pastor Alozie Isaiah O. – director of Evangelism and Stewardship.33

This administration under Pastor Anonaba faced the challenges of completing the secretariat building, increasing the membership, and upgrading to conference status. In order to actualize these set goals, the following pastors were engaged as pioneer workers: Otis Anaebue, Miracle Ifeanyichukwu, Eleazar Ufomba, John Onomivbori, Amadi Dimgba, Udochukwu Emmanuel, Solomon Alozie, and Noble Ngozi while Azubuike Uzoegwu and Fyneface Nwokeji became self-supporting ministers. During this administration, the number of districts of churches was eight before they were reorganized into ten districts.34 Pastor Kingsley C. Anonaba was called to serve as the executive secretary of the West-Central African Division. This movement ushered in Pastor Moses C. Njoku on August 1, 2015, as the president of the mission, while Nnamdi Okagbue was retained as the secretary/treasurer. In 2016, the administration accomplished one of their set goals of the immediate past administration, which was the completion of the secretariat at its permanent site. The building was dedicated on February 13, 2016, and the Mission immediately relocated its headquarters from its temporary site to this permanent site following the dedication.35

In the same vein, in 2017 upon the recalling of Pastor Moses C. Njoku by the Union, Pastor Anaba Hilary Udonso, in the first quarter of this year, was appointed to oversee the work as the president and Nnamdi Okagbue as secretary/treasurer. However, Nnamdi Okagbue was later replaced by Pastor Marcus Vincent Chukwunem.36

From 2019 to the present, the mission has been headed by Pastor Akubude Obinna M. as president. In view of the development and growth recorded, the Union decided to reduce the burden of secretary/treasurer, which was hitherto undertaken by treasurer, and appointed Pastor Alozie O. Isaiah as Secretary and Elder Clifford I. Ohuonu as Treasurer.37

The mission currently has two major ongoing capital projects, among others. These are Cottage Hospital (Community Service Centre) at Isu-Aniocha and Mary Wilson Adventist Secondary School at Nkpor.

Sources

Akubude, Obinna Michael. “The Growth and Impact of Seventh-day Adventist Church, Nkpor in Anambra State 1983-2001.” Unpublished Undergraduate Long Essay, Department of Religious Studies, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, 2005.

“Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Programme Brochure for the Dedication of Ultra-Modern Secretariat, February 13, 2016.

Anambra State in SEREDEC – Southeast Region Economic Development Company. https://southeast.ng.

Anambra State of Nigeria, in Nigeria Galleria. http://www.nigeriagalleria.com.

Anambra State, Nigeria Genealogy – FamilySearch. https://www.familysearch.org.

Edmund O. Uroegbulam. “Anambra-Imo Conference, Historical Perspective.” The Pilgrim: The News Magazine of the Anambra-Imo Conference 1, 2011.

National Bureau of Statistics, Anambra State, Nigeria, In Nigeria Data Portal, State Population 2006. https://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org.

Okpulor, Ephraim Uzodinma. “Anambra-Imo Conference.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Accessed March 31, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AB7T&highlight=Anambra-Imo|Conference.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Anambra State in SEREDEC – Southeast Region Economic Development Company. Retrieved on December 1, 2021, from https://southeast.ng.

  2. Anambra State of Nigeria, in Nigeria Galleria, retrieved on December 1, 2021, from http://www.nigeriagalleria.com.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Anambra State in SEREDEC – Southeast Region Economic Development Company. Retrieved on December 1, 2021, from https://southeast.ng.

  5. Anambra State, Nigeria Genealogy – FamilySearch. Retrieved on December 1, 2021 from https://www.familysearch.org.

  6. National Bureau of Statistics, Anambra State, Nigeria, in Nigeria Data Portal, State Population 2006, retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org.

  7. Anambra Mission, in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://adventistyearbook.org.

  8. “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Programme Brochure for the Dedication of Ultra-Modern Secretariat, 2016, 18.

  9. Akubude, M. Obinna, “The Growth and Impact of Seventh-day Adventist Church, Nkpor in Anambra State 1983-2001,” unpublished Undergraduate Long Essay, Department of Religious Studies, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, 2005, 18.

  10. “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” 18.

  11. Obinna, 18; “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” 18.

  12. Ibid.

  13. “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” 18.

  14. Obinna, 18.

  15. Ibid.

  16. “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” 18.

  17. Obinna, 18.

  18. Ibid.

  19. Ibid.

  20. Edmund O. Uroegbulam, “Anambra-Imo Conference, Historical Perspective,” in The Pilgrim: The News Magazine of the Anambra-Imo Conference 1, 2011.

  21. Ibid. As the pursuit of the Mission lingered, many of the members of this Steering Committee died before consultations heightened and the dream came true.

  22. Ephraim Uzodinma Okpulor, “Anambra-Imo Conference,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed March 31, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AB7T&highlight=Anambra-Imo|Conference.

  23. Pastor Eleazar C. Mbataku. interview by author, November 29, 2021.

  24. Elder G. I. Nzeh and Pastor Eleazar C. Mbataku, interview by author, November 29, 2021; Ndubuisi Martin Emereonye, participant observation.

  25. Uroegbulam, 1.

  26. Okpulor, “Anambra-Imo Conference.”

  27. Ibid.; “Anambra Mission,” in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://adventistyearbook.org.

  28. Okpulor, “Anambra-Imo Conference.”

  29. Ibid.

  30. Ibid.

  31. “Anambra Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Programme Brochure for the Dedication of Ultra-Modern Secretariat, 2016, 18.

  32. Ibid.

  33. Ibid.

  34. Ibid.,19.

  35. Ibid., 18.

  36. Akubude M. Obinna, president, Anambra Mission.

  37. Ibid.

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Emereonye, Ndubuisi Martin. "Anambra Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Accessed December 03, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AB7U.

Emereonye, Ndubuisi Martin. "Anambra Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Date of access December 03, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AB7U.

Emereonye, Ndubuisi Martin (2021, November 28). Anambra Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 03, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AB7U.