Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Coker, Jacob Kehinde (B)

The African Church


The first reaction to missionary Christianity was from 1888 to 1917 and it produced the first set of churches usually referred to as the African Independent or the Ethiopian churches. Prominent among these churches was the African Church Incorporated, which came into being on October 13, 1901. The African Church emerged out of a schism in the Anglican church. The remote and immediate causes were linked to the inhuman treatment purportedly given to Bishops Samuel Ajayi Crowther and James Johnson, both African clergy of the Anglican church. In the assessment of the leaders of the Anglican church of the time however, especially Bishop Herbert Tugwell, the church would not survive because the Africans who spearheaded the establishment were considered to be nonentities who could not put anything together. However, in the providence of God, the church survived.

Credit for this should be given to the many leaders of the time who through hard work, faith in God, forthrightness, sincerity of purpose, commitment to God, and the cause at hand made significant contributions to nurture the infant church to survival under seemingly unfavorable situations. Among the many contributions of the time, that of one man towers above those of the others. He was the one upon whom the mantle of leadership fell at the time and there are historical evidences to show that it was the dynamic leadership which he gave to the young church that saw it through the ordeal and made it an enduring edifice of faith today. This man was Chief Jacob Kehinde Coker.

Birth and Early Life

Jacob Kehnde Coker was a Yoruba of Egba descent. He was born in Iporo-Ake Abeokuta, the present capital of Ogun State, Nigeria on the September 6, 1866, to Pa James Osobu Coker. As the name implies, Kehinde was the second of a set of twins, but his brother, who became Dr. J. O. Coker, died at an early age. He and his twin brother were the first among the twenty-eight children of his father, who was the Jaguna of Iporo and a member of the Ake royal family. His father was a prosperous cotton farmer in Abeokuta. He also started an import-export business in Lagos in 1870. [1]

Kehinde Coker attended Ake School in the company of some Egba indigenes who later became prominent: M. O. Somefun, S. A. Jibowu, J. O. Berkley, and Dr. J. O. Coker, who was his twin brother. He later moved to Lagos where he continued his education at Breadfruit Church School and also attended the Anglican Grammar School Lagos, from which he graduated in 1884.

Records of his work life are not available, but in addition to his personal work, he decided to acquire some acres of land in the Ifako area of Agege in 1885 to grow cotton and kola-nuts. This made him more comfortable as a young man and also made his ministry effective because he was affluent and could take time to look after the interests of the church without suspicion. He became very popular because of his generosity and his willingness and ability to assist the less-privileged. [2] By 1901, Coker was managing his father’s estate. When his father died in 1902, there were still seventeen children of his father who were minors and the responsibilities of the family fell on him. He had the arduous task of training his siblings and overseeing the family’s business.

Involvement in Church Life

Coker took great interest in church matters during his school days, assisting some legendary preachers of the time at his Iporo-Ake, Abeokuta church. On moving to Lagos, he became a member of the Breadfruit Anglican Church, but on June 1, 1884, during one of the revival meetings conducted by the late Bishop Johnson, he had the experience of personal salvation and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Thereafter, Bishop James Johnson exerted great influence upon his life and remained a personal friend and mentor until his (Johnson’s) death in 1917. His activities within the church, coupled with his interest in Rev. James Johnson, whom he chose as a model of uprightness, commitment, morality, and self-discipline soon endeared him to the congregation.  By the close of the 19th century he had been appointed the People’s Warden of the church. Thus he assumed an office that demanded selfless service to the church and to the community, coupled with great responsibility and influence. [3]

Emergence of the African Church

Several reasons have been adduced to explain the emergence of the African Independent churches, of which the African church is a part. The institutionalization of polygamy has always been the popular reason put forward for the rise of these churches. However, it is now clear that this was a misconception, as scholars have over the years debunked this assertion. Facts placed on record revealed that most of the leaders of the African churches were monogamists. Polygamy can only be treated as the effect rather than the cause. Consequently, other reasons must have led to the rise of these churches. [4] Adewale, speaking in a similar vein in relation to the founding of the African church, declares that it was not essentially an attempt to encourage polygamy–which is what the detractors of the church who did not understand the causes of the secession alleged–nor was it an effort to propagate the doctrine of traditional religion. [5] Clarke emphasizes that the reason for the break of the African church with the Anglican was neither theological nor moral, nor was polygamy an issue at the time of secession. [6] David Barrett described the schisms of the time as reactions against a Christianity that had become over-Europeanized. [7] 

The principal cause has to do with the shabby treatment given to two leading African clergy within the Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the time. In 1891, ten years before the founding of the African church, there had been resentment against the European missionaries of the Anglican church for what the Africans felt was the humiliation of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first African clergyman. They were alleged to have wrongly accused the bishop of mismanagement of funds and incompetence in the Niger Mission, for which he was humiliated. This led to his resignation and death in 1891.

African parishioners of the Anglican church were still nursing this wound when another prominent African clergyman, Rev. James Johnson, suffered a similar fate at the hands of one of the white bishops. Rev. James Johnson was the vicar in charge of St. Paul’s Breadfruit Church, but in time was consecrated as assistant bishop to take charge of the Niger Mission. By virtue of this appointment, he ceased to be the pastor of the Breadfruit Church. However, since arrangements for his full takeover of the Niger Mission had not been completed, he was permitted–both at the request of the CMS and his parishioners–to stay on and have the use of the vicarage for a short period of time, not to exceed twelve months. But while he was on a short visit to his new station, a new pastor was appointed for the church and Johnson was ejected in absentia from the official residence (vicarage) at the church, to make room for the new vicar. He returned to find his family displaced and his property outside the vicarage in the rain, because there was no residence allowed for him any longer, even though he had not even conducted his farewell service. Certain reports had it that this harsh treatment was partly responsible for the death of his wife, because she died during the crisis. [8]

This inhuman treatment infuriated members of the Breadfruit Anglican Church, who were further aggravated by the death of Mrs. Johnson. They considered it an insult and a challenge to the intelligence and capability of Africans. The issue would probably have been resolved, if not for the uncompromising stance of Herbert Tugwell. When the parishioners threatened to secede, the bishop declared that they could leave and withdraw from the church, adding that it was an Anglican church and not an African church. [9] He was reported to have further ridiculed them. His assessment of the situation was that the Africans were inferior to the Europeans in intelligence, that they were incapable of organizing and running a church, and were therefore doomed to failure. However, over a century later, the African church is still growing strong.

Initially, these parishioners had no intention to secede from the church. They only asked that they should be taken into consideration in a matter that concerned them. It was also stated that they tried as much as possible to avert the secession through dialogue and a peaceful negotiation with the authorities, but all efforts proved abortive. Consequent upon the high-handedness of Bishop Tugwell, on October 13, 1901, over 600 of them (mainly from St. Paul’s Breadfruit Church), in protest, started a march towards the Rose Cottage residence of Jacob Kehinde Coker, the people’s warden of the church. Before they got there, their numbers had grown to about 800. At Rose Cottage, they resolved not to go back to St. Paul’s Breadfruit Church, but were still content to remain within the CMS. They sent a protest letter to the CMS secretary in London, requesting a minister and permission to remain as an independent church within the CMS establishment, but the request was turned down. Hence, they were left with no alternative but to form themselves into a separate church organization. They decided to take the bull by the horns and work to shape their ecclesiastical destiny. J. K. Coker, recounting the ordeal of the time and the fortitude with which it was met by the people, stated that “they severed themselves at once without any prospect, without any preparation or arrangement for the journey to be undertaken.” [10]

On October 17, they met to elect their officers, and the following Sunday October 20, they held a service and the sermon of the day spurred them to action. That sermon was preached by Rev. D. A. J. Oguntolu and the text was from Song of Solomon 1:6 “Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the Vineyards; but mine own Vineyard have I not kept.” This sermon fired their enthusiasm. Coker explains that “they regarded the sermon as the call of God defining the duty for which He had separated them from the Anglican church. It was as if God was ringing it in their ears on a daily basis “O Africa, Africa, thou hast kept the vineyard of other people long enough, look after thine own vineyard.” [11] Later it was said of them: “The founders did not know what God wanted them to do or what the new church they were founding stood for; they came out and started as they were in Breadfruit Church; but God’s message came to them in the first sermon preached by Rev. D. A. J. Oguntolu.” [12] Though they were not financially buoyant, they faced the task with determination. An arrangement was worked out whereby they secured a parcel of land, on which they started the construction of a church building which they succeeded in completing in just twenty-eight days. The building was dedicated by Rev. Jacob Sylvannus Williams on December 22, 1901. During the dedication service he said: “this day we lay the foundation of the church for the black race.” The members took a cue from this and named the new church “The African Church.” [13]


No sooner was the church founded than it began to spread to other places outside Lagos. Within a short time, it spread to places like Abeokuta, Ijebuland, Ibadan, Ikirun, Ife, Ilesha, Osogbo, Ekiti, Ondo, and Akoko, in all Yorubaland and parts of the Niger Delta: Warri, Buguma, and Calabar. Naturally, as with every growing institution, the African church initially went through some trying times, but through the determination of the leaders, it was able to weather the storm and triumph. Today, the church is growing strong and contributing to the development of Christianity in Nigeria.

Leadership of the African Church

Such was the beginning of what is known today as the African church. With regards to the leadership of the church, it seemed, of necessity, to fall on the shoulders of J. K. Coker. Influential people who should have sympathized with the cause never saw the need to do so. The people had expected to enjoy the support of James Johnson, who was the key figure in the controversy that led to the secession, but he was not forthcoming. As an African, Johnson had spent the major part of his ecclesiastical life advocating for the native pastorate. However, it seems that when the opportunity presented itself for him to actualize his aspiration, he shrank from the responsibility and left the people at sea.  Ayandele reiterates that the parishioners of the time had great admiration for James Johnson and had expected him to declare independence from the CMS, [14] or more probably to pitch his camp with them when they actually seceded from the mission for his sake, but he chose to remain with the CMS and as J. K. Coker lamented, Johnson “failed to lead his people.” [15]

Another personality who would have led the church at the time was A. W. Thomas, but he never saw the need to join the secession at the initial stage. When he eventually joined them, Coker had won the admiration of the people. As the people’s warden of the Breadfruit Church, he seems to have enjoyed the admiration and confidence of the parishioners and there seemed to be no-one else among the chiefs at that time to compete with him. He was readily acceptable to the people and the task of leading the church fell on his shoulders. Webster, commenting on the situation stated:

The schism of 1901 had been in the nature of a young men’s revolt against [the] elders of Breadfruit. Secession had been unpremeditated, and Coker, almost in surprise, found himself its leader. Had A. W. Thomas been among the seceders, [sic] he would naturally have become their chief elder.  By the time he joined, Coker enjoyed the prestige which surrounded his title, ‘chief of the founders.’ His replacement required delicate maneuvering. It might have been facilitated if he and Thomas had shared similar ideologies. Neither by age (thirty-six in 1901) nor wealth was Coker prepared for eldership. He possessed little capital, and after his bankruptcy, none. Thus, unlike J. W. Cole, he did not hold the property deed. Passive membership and withheld subscriptions were not weapons he could use. He was a brilliant junior leader with radical ideals, personal charm, and ceaseless energy unparalleled among African Church laymen.  But like the younger men of the U. N. A., he lacked political maturity. [16]

Coker rose to a position of great influence in subsequent years and used this position to the full advantage of the African church and the spread of the Gospel, especially in the interior of Yorubaland. He was loved by many converts and friends because he was seen to be kind, sympathetic, and philanthropic in all his ways. He was reported to have fulfilled Henry Venn’s two-fold dreams of economic self-sufficiency and ecclesiastical self-rule. Henry Venn was the CMS secretary from 1841 to 1872. Venn had envisaged an educational policy in which industrial education would be provided by the mission, and had encouraged a multitude of enterprises: construction, brick-making, printing, and the like. These would enable young Africans to be trained and would result in economic development and independence. In a similar vein, he had advocated for a native pastorate, with the three self-autonomies: self-governing, self-financing, and self-propagating. Ade-Ajayi explains the Venn plan thus:

According to the Venn plan, a European missionary goes out, paid for by the European missionary society, he establishes a mission and trains local leaders to assist him. He begins to raise revenue from the converts and as soon as the congregation can pay for its staff and become self-supporting and self-propagating, the missionary hands over to the local leaders so that the Mission becomes a self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating Church. [17]

To Venn, a missionary could not possibly take the place of an African pastor. The role of the missionary is outside the indigenous church. It is his responsibility to evangelize, then to train indigenous leaders and entrust the work to them. He should never impose his ideas and his western way of life. [18]

Coker established a farm at Ifako-Agege, on the outskirt of Lagos, which eventually turned out to be a center of evangelism. Initially, it went through some trying times, but by 1910, most of the problems had been neutralized. In the process, a student named I. S. M. Williams was sponsored by Coker to study scientific agriculture in America. He returned to teach other farmers how to improve on their farming techniques. The project flourished into an industrial institute, the African Normal and Industrial Institute, which was founded in 1917. [19] It offered various courses with departments such as: academic, mechanical, women’s industries, and agriculture. All the stakeholders were Christians but their membership cut across denominations. The farm quickly grew to be a center of evangelism as well as a center for agricultural development, where seedlings were developed for distribution to farmers in the interior.

The extent of the farm necessitated the recruitment of skilled workers, and many people came to work on the farm from different parts of the interior of Nigeria. The farm was of tremendous benefit to the workers. Apart from being paid their wages and learning new agricultural techniques, many of them were also converted from their traditional beliefs to the Christian faith. They returned home not just as skilled farmers, but as messengers of the Gospel and evangelists of the African Church. Many of them became ministers of the African church in later years, being equipped both economically and spiritually. This led to the spread of the gospel and to the planting of branches of the African church in places like Abeokuta, Ilesha, Ondo, Ekiti, Akoko, and parts of Eastern Nigeria. Ajayi testifies to the fact that “studies of the African Church have shown how they tried to practice Henry Venn’s policy of development using agriculture and the cocoa industry in the Yoruba area to spread Christianity, commerce, and civilization. [20] This program was to account in later years for the popularity of cocoa in the western region of Nigeria. Coker became not only the leader of the church but also grew to be a prosperous businessman who took time to empower others economically.

The farm was also of immense economic benefit to the church, as its growth was fueled in large measure by earnings from the farm. Also, as membership increased, the farm assisted in providing employment for many converts of the church. Just as this program fulfilled the policy of Henry Venn, it was also related to Buxton’s idea of interdependence between farm and church. One of Buxton’s slogans was “the Bible and Plough regenerate Africa.” Religion was to work hand in hand with commerce and scientific investigation. [21] Ade-Ajayi reiterates that “in Buxton’s view, it was not any kind of trade that could be effective in destroying the slave trade at its source, but it had to be trade based on the marketing of agricultural produce that came from the labor of independent farmers. Only such a trade could have a demonstration effect to show that the use of labor on the farm was more profitable than the sale of surplus labor to slave traders. [22] 

Interwoven with the first is the second achievement of a native pastorate, one which prominent figures in the Anglican church never allowed to see the light of day. Venn had envisaged an indigenous church for Africa. He dreamt of a church that the Africans would call their own because it had been able to adapt Christianity to the African milieu. The African Church became one such church in Nigeria. Coker emphasized that the aim of the African Church was to make Christianity African and acceptable to the natives, kings, rulers, and the Nigerian people in general, so that Christianity might become the African national religion. He saw the African Church as a church of the people themselves and not as a division of any church. [23] It is a church organization of Africans in which they were to worship God in truth and in spirit. [24] There were indications that the African Church made significant progress in this direction, as many Africans who would have become Muslims became Christians. Many who could have been lost spiritually and bodily through the evils of the hypocritical life of the missionary churches were led to feel Christianity was theirs: indigenous to their soil, and not a foreign religion. [25]

Apparently, the African Church became a source of attraction in areas where the propagation of the faith has earlier recorded little or no success. It became the darling of kings, chiefs, and various holders of traditional titles who had earlier been refused baptism by the Anglican church. In Ijebu-Ode for instance, Coker recounted how in 1900 Christianity lost an Ijebu warlord, Balogun Kuku, and 600 of his supporters to Islam because Rev. James Johnson refused to baptize them on account of polygamy. [26] The effect of such rejection is still visible today in Ijebu-Ode because it remained one of the strong Muslim enclaves in Yorubaland. Because of this singular phenomenon, the first attempt by a missionary to introduce Christianity to Ijebuland in 1854 met with failure.  However, the situation changed with the introduction of the African church to Ijebuland. The church was founded in 1901 and by 1902 it had spread across the land. Because it was adaptable to the African cultural milieu, it became attractive to the people to the extent that Obas in Yorubaland personally requested that branches of the church be sited in their domain.

The leaders of other African independent churches looked to Coker for direction. He succeeded in fulfilling the aspirations of some passionate Anglican leaders with regards to the survival of Christianity in Africa. Hence the laudable aspirations of prominent Anglican figures such as Venn and Buxton, which were thwarted by their fellow Anglicans, came alive in the African Church under the leadership of Jacob Kehinde Coker. [27]

Service to other African Independent Churches

By 1917, there were already a handful of churches that were independent of the mission churches, the former attracting the criticism and persecution of the latter. On many occasions, Coker rose boldly in defense of the independent churches and succeeded in putting their critics to silence. His boldness and logical presentation of facts as they related to the independent churches were usually quite impressive, and other African independent churches saw in him a mouthpiece and by implication, a leader. Coker himself came to the realization that he had been saddled with a mission beyond his African Church at Bethel. He therefore placed himself at the disposal of the other independent churches by interacting with them so as to be involved in their lives and to offer assistance as the needs arose. He also took time to mediate in many of the conflicts that would have torn them apart, and by so doing was able to strengthen the cord of unity between them. He initiated the practice of common worship for the churches, encouraging them to unite and speak with one voice–and if need be–fight as one body, so that the united voices of African churches might be heard by the Christian world.

His efforts bore fruit when the African communion, an umbrella body for all the African churches, was born in 1913. The communion comprised the Native Baptist Church, the United Native African Church, the African Church Bethel, and the African Church Salem. The motto of the communion was “One flock, one shepherd.” Initially, it had Mojola Agbebi as president with J. K. Coker as secretary, but in 1916, Coker became the president of the communion, succeeding Agbebi, who had rejoined the Baptist church. It was in appreciation of his efforts to bring together these churches into one communion that he was given the title “Chief of the Founders.”


Barely three years after the founding of the African Church there were already two congregations, but by December 1904, there was discontent about the church’s hierarchy. The third Founders’ Day had not been as successful as the two that had been held in the preceding years. The church became engulfed in a crisis which led to a series of litigations, and reconciliation attempts between 1907 and 1908 met with failure. From 1909 on, the church was finally divided in two: the African Church Bethel (ACB), and the African Church Salem (ACS). [28]**

However, in December of 1916, Fredrick Ephraim Williams, one of the founders of the church, initiated the move which eventually put an end to the crisis. In a letter, he appealed to the two factions to “put aside all obstacles and make all efforts to re-unite the two organizations.” Williams never lived to see the unification, but the move he ably initiated was brought to a successful conclusion when the two factions of the church signed a memorandum and finally agreed to the reunification terms on November 24, 1922. [29] The period of crisis was a trying time for Coker, as there was discontent in the church hierarchy and Coker, as the leader, was on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism.

Another issue which would have created chaos for the church was related to the intricacies surrounding the formation of the African communion. Basically, Coker’s intention was to amalgamate all the branches of the African Church into a single church organization.  But before that, he first introduced the idea of a common worship, whereby workers of the various churches would visit one another in a form of pulpit exchange, in the hope that this would gradually metamorphose into unification. However, this move nearly engulfed the African Church in another crisis between 1927 and 1937. This was because in the African Church, polygamy was restricted to the laity, while in the two other African Churches it was open to both the clergy and the laity. Consequently, some leaders of the African Church did not find it convenient to allow polygamous ministers from these other churches in their pulpits. 

However, one of the articles of the African communion provided for non-interference in the mode of worship of member churches. Coker urged that this article be respected so that ministers would be free to worship in member churches without hindrance, but his suggestion was repudiated. He was further accused of disrupting the hierarchy of the African Church in favor of union with the United Native African Church, probably because of his chairmanship of the African communion. Although Coker defended himself against this allegation and succeeded in convincing others to favor the merger of the African Church with the other independent churches, those who were opposed to his stand saw to it that the merger never saw the light of day. By 1937, those who did not like the merger with the U.N.A. gained the upper hand and stopped the meeting of the African communion from being held in the African Church cathedral, Lagos. Invariably, they influenced the decision of the African Church general committee against the merger through a resolution passed on April 1937, which reads: “…that the mixture of African Church Ministers and U. N. A. ministers in a chancel cannot be possible.” [30] By this resolution, Coker was made aware of the fact that the lay presidency of the African communion held by him had been wrested out of his hands. 


In the close to eighty years that Coker lived, he was a leader in all spheres of human endeavor that he participated in. He was a successful churchman, an intellectual, a financier, philanthropist, a practical educator and a committed messenger of African Christianity who believed religiously in the principle of the Bible and the plough. [31] He fought for the cause of African Christianity with all the resources at his disposal, spending generous portions of his wealth on furthering the cause, travelling extensively to preach, exhorting and advising leaders of the African Church to which he belonged and those of other independent churches. He was not only a leader but a father to most of the other African independent churches of his time. Dada describes his generosity as follow:**

The list of churches J. K. Coker built and financed and the list of people helped financially were so impressive that they cannot at any time be fully mentioned. Several writers have written on this aspect of Coker’s life and there was hardly any file among the [sic] Coker’s collection in the National Archives Ibadan that does not contain one letter or the other demanding money, books, Bible, cocoa seeds, church bell, Watt’s catechism, Primer Reader, magic lantern, gramophone, accordion, postage stamps, roofing sheets and even the use of his car to convey their Bishop on tour or to convey members of the choir to a concert. [32]

Coker played a significant role in the effort that saw the African Church become the edifice of faith that it is today. He was the people’s warden of the church in the first four years, the chief exponent of the principles and practice of the church in its early years of existence, and the instructor of many in church duties. He brought a Christian outlook to those who without it would not even have heard of the Christian message. He made foreign missionaries sensitive to African sentiment at a time when they might easily have ignored such sentiment, and bore witness that Christianity was not simply a white man’s religion but could be an African national religion. [33] His many writings indicate that he was more of a prophet, prophesying about things which in later years agitated church ministers and scholars across Africa. Although it is argued today that the African Church did not fully succeed in indigenizing Christianity since it continued to use foreign ecclesiastical robes, hierarchical orders, and liturgy, it could equally be argued that Coker as an individual did more in this direction than any other nationalist of his time. There are indications that if he had worked with people of like mind or received more encouragement and support than he did, he would have had more success.

There were many nationalists in the very early days of the struggle. Numbered among them were James Johnson, Mojola Agbebi, Edward Blyden, and W. E. Cole. However, none of them put their ideals into practice like Jacob Kehinde Coker. Commenting on Johnson and Blyden, Clarke explains that “though they deserve credit for the support they gave to African independence, their actions and lifestyle did not match up to their agitations.” [34] He further declared that Johnson, like Blyden, was a staunch advocate of an African church and a leading advocate of cultural nationalism throughout his lifetime, but that neither of them was prepared to go the extra mile to put his ideals into practice. Rather, both men “believed that foreign missions and foreign powers such as Britain and France had an important, if only temporary, role to play in the political, economic and cultural development of Africa.” [35] James Johnson’s refusal to move out of Breadfruit Church with the secessionists in 1901, when all the controversy centered on his person, was indicative of the inconsistency in his approach to the establishment of an African church. Ayandele, reflecting on the attitude of James Johnson to the Breadfruit scenario, described him as a disappointment to his admirers, as he had failed to use the opportunity they gave him. His actions were illogical and he paid for it with his prestige, thus losing the opportunity of a native pastorate, a lifetime dream. [36]

Mojola Agbebi was another nationalist of equivalent status with Coker. He was convinced that Christianity could be adapted and made more relevant to African society than it was at that time. He was actively involved in implementing this, as he was active in the founding of the Native Baptist Church, which seceded from the American Baptist Church in 1888. But in time, Agbebi returned to the American Baptist Mission and later became the first president of the Yoruba Baptist Association in 1914. [37] From that time forward, the dream of an African church was no doubt out of the question for him. However, Jacob Kehinde Coker pursued this ideal consistently, and achieved a high degree of success in the struggle.

According to Adebiyi, he was really a father, a mentor, and a great philanthropist who had no equal. He died and went to heaven to meet his Lord and master on January 6, 1945, the Feast of the Epiphany. [38]

Michael Adeleke Ogunewu


  1. James Bertin Webster, The African Churches among the Yoruba 1888-1922, (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1964), 161.

  2. Peter Adebiyi, “Jacob Kehinde Coker, 1866-1945,” in Makers of the Church in Nigeria 1842-1947, ed. J. A. Omoyajowo (Lagos: CSS Bookshops Ltd. [Publishing Unit], 1995), 100.

  3. Adebiyi, 100.

  4. Ayandele explains that polygamy only became an issue after the establishment of these churches, especially the United Native African Church and the Bethel African Church. It was not the real cause of their emergence. See E. A. Ayandele, The Missionary Impact on Modern Nigeria 1842 – 1941: A Political and Social Analysis, (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1966), 201 -202.

  5. S. A. Adewale, The African Church (Inc.): A Synthesis of Religion and Culture, (Ibadan: Oluseyi Press  Ltd., 1988), 9.

  6. Peter B. Clarke, West Africa and Christianity, (London: Edward Arnold, 1986), 162.

  7. David Barrett, Schism and Renewals in Africa, (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 78.

  8. S. A. Dada, A History of the African Church, (Ibadan: AOWA Printers and Publishers, 1986), 10.

  9. Adewale, 19.

  10. J. K. Coker, “African Church Past, Present and Future”, The African Church Chronicle Vol. 1. no. 2, Oct-Dec 1934, p. 14 and Appendix A.

  11. S. A. Dada, J. K. Coker, Father of African Independent Churches, (Ibadan: AOWA Printers and Publishers, 1986), 37.

  12. Dada, J. K. Coker, 36.

  13. Eightieth Anniversary Souvenir of African Church, Bethel [Program].

  14. E. A. Ayandele, Holy Johnson: Pioneer of African Nationalism, 1836-1917, (London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1970), 325.

  15. The Coker Papers, (G) J. K. Coker, “To my dear Christian brothers,” October 1912.

  16. Webster, 173.

  17. J. F. Ade-Ajayi, A Patriot to the Core: Bishop Ajayi Crowther, (Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited, 2001), 10.

  18. Jeanne Decorvet & Emmanuel OLadipo, Samuel Ajayi Crowther: The Miracle of Grace, (Lagos: CSS Bookshop, 2006), 130-131.

  19. Dada, J. K. Coker, 16.

  20. Ade-Ajayi, 120.

  21. E. P. T. Crampton, Christianity in Northern Nigeria, (Bukuru: African Christian Textbooks (ACTS), 2004), 17.

  22. Ade-Ajayi, 87.

  23. Coker File 4/1/25, pp. 83-85

  24. Coker File 4/1/28, p. 112. Petition to Lieutenant Governor of 24/8/22.

  25. Coker File 4/1/36, Section 26.

  26. Dada, A History, 17.

  27. See Lamin Sanneh, West Africa Christianity: The Religious Impact, (Maryland: Orbis Books, 1992), 158-159; and Adebiyi, 110.

  28. Dada, A History, 23.

  29. See Coker Papers File 4/1/29 pp. 4-18.

  30. Adebiyi, 114.

  31. Dada, J. K. Coker, 180.

  32. Dada, J. K. Coker, 19.

  33. James O’Connell, Government and Politics in Yoruba African Churches, (ODU, 1965), 108.

  34. Clarke, 162.

  35. Clarke, 162.

  36. Ayandele, Holy Johnson, 325-326.

  37. S. Ademola Ajayi, Baptist Work in Nigeria 1850-2005: A Comprehensive History, (Ibadan: Book Wright Publishers, 2010), 134.

  38. Adebiyi, p.115


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This story, contributed in 2012, was written and researched by Dr. Michael Adeleke Ogunewu, Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria.