Family background, conversion, and marriage
Samuel Kolawole Fabunmi was a Yoruba man from the Ejisun Ajana chieftaincy family of Adin, with quarters in Ilawe-Ekiti, in the old western region which is the present Ekiti State of Nigeria. He was born on February 4, 1933 in Ilawe-Ekiti, into the family of chief Otun Buraimoh Fabunmi (the late Ajana of Adin quarters, who himself hailed from the chief Ejisun chieftaincy family). His mother was chief Salamotu Aderiyinsola Fabunmi, née Olujupe, whose father was chief Saruku, of the same Adin quarters. His mother was an Islamic chieftancy title holder; she was the Iyasuna of the Ansar-ud-Deen community in Ilawe-Ekiti. As a son of devoted Muslim parents, he was named Bakare, a Muslim name he bore for years.
Bakare was later converted to Christianity and assumed the baptismal name Samuel, which subsequently became his first name. His conversion to Christianity was directly linked to the influence of Christian mission schools upon his life in his early years.
Samuel married a Christian woman named Juliana Fabunmi, who gave birth to three children: Bola (now Mrs. Bello), Bukola (now Mrs. Adenekan), and Gbenga (now Mr. Fabunmi). After the death of Juliana, he married Janet Mobolape, who gave birth to six other children: Samuel, Tayo, Olawunmi, Samson, Shola, and Benjamin.
Fabunmi’s first contact with western education was at his elementary school, Holy Trinity Anglican Primary School, in Ilawe-Ekiti. He later attended St. James Anglican Primary School in Igbara-Odo Ekiti, graduating in 1952 with a standard six school leaving certificate. Afterwards, he trained for the teaching profession at Ansar-ud-Deen Grade III Teacher Training College in Ado-Ekiti, where he obtained his Teacher’s Grade III Certificate. He then attended the Ondo Oyo Joint Provincial Teacher Training College at Ile-Ife where he got his Grade II Teacher’s Certificate. He later obtained his Grade I Teacher’s Certificate at the Federal Government Teacher Training College, Lagos.
Shortly after completing his training for the teaching profession, Samuel decided to work for the Nigerian Army. He took up military training in Zaria in 1966 and became an instructor in the Nigerian Army Education Corps. He worked there until he felt a strong call into the pastoral ministry.
His pastoral calling, training, and ministerial labor
Fabunmi joined the C.M.S. church (Anglican) where he was baptized and confirmed, taking the name Samuel. He later joined an African indigenous church, the Christ Apostolic Church, in the 1960s. He was attracted to this church by the life of prayer and by Pentecostal manifestations, and he felt that these elements were more responsive to the African religious temperament than those of the mission church in which he had been converted.
In the early 1970s, Fabunmi had become more spiritually inclined, and he felt a call into the pastoral ministry. In response to this divine call, he entered the ministry in the Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C.), where he was ordained a pastor. He underwent theological training at the United Missionary Theological Seminary, Ilorin, in Kwara State, Nigeria, where he received a bachelor’s degree in theology.
He later left the Christ Apostolic Church to work with Apostle Agbona, one of the disciples of the great African apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola. Agbona had just left Christ Apostolic Church himself in order to form his own church, named Christ Apostolic Mission Church. He served this mission for more than twenty-four years in the office of apostle, in light of his gifts and his work. He first served with the headquarters of the mission at Abule-Egba, Lagos, where he was working directly with the founder. He emerged as the first principal of the theological college of the church, being involved in pastoral work at the same time. He later became the administrative secretary of the church from 1987 to 1990.
Apart from these administrative functions, Fabunmi was also involved in church planting. He made a considerable contribution to planting new assemblies of the Christ Apostolic Church Mission, pioneering the Alagbado, Suberu-Oje, and Abule-Iroko branches of the church.
Fabunmi had a long-term impact on the Christ Apostolic Mission Church. As a trained teacher, he pioneered the establishment of the first theological institution of the mission, which has produced more than one thousand ministers of the gospel. The college is still vibrant today and has become an interdenominational theological institution.
He also made a great contribution to the development of Sunday school in the mission by drawing on the wealth of knowledge and experience he had gained as a teacher. He reorganized the Sunday school so that it would be more productive and enriching, both spiritually and emotionally.
He also contributed to the Good Women Society, a group for the married women in the church. He used his pastoral experience to teach and to train them, aiming to equip them to be good housewives and mothers. This brought about some development within the church in that area, and the impact on homes was noticeable.
He contributed generally to church expansion, education, and development in the offices of apostle and teacher, and his ministry was confirmed by various miracles which often led to conversion and church planting.
The founding of his own church, Christ Apostolic Church of Glory (Oke Alafia)
In 1998, Fabunmi left Christ Apostolic Mission Church because of a conflict on administrative matters with the founder. He eventually pioneered his own church, and on February 4, 1998, he christened it Christ Apostolic Church of Glory (Oke Alafia). The church has grown, with about two branches in Lagos, and the members still feel the impact of the founder, who helped them in their faith, their married life, and their work. He is especially remembered for his emphasis on education, as he encouraged parents to educate their children. His influence was not limited to Christ Apostolic Mission Church and to his own church, as he made a significant contribution to Christ Apostolic Church, where he caught the Pentecostal fire that transformed him into a vessel for the Lord. He was one of the pioneering elders, and was the first secretary of Christ Apostolic Church Bababoko, Agbo-Oba, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, where he is remembered for his role in making the church what it is today.
Apart from his contributions to Christianity, Samuel Fabunmi also made contributions in the secular world. As an educator, he was in the teaching profession in public service for thirty-two years. As a great community developer and leader, he served as chairman of the Agbado-Ijaiye primary school board, and as chairman of the Adanitan Co-operative Thrift and Credit Society. As a politician, he was a prominent member of the now defunct National Republican Convention (N.R.C.) and was also a philanthropist who influenced many people, Christians and Muslims alike.
Samuel Fabunmi died on October 3, 2000, at the age of sixty-eight, at the Lagos State General Hospital Ikeja, Lagos, after a brief illness, barely two years after he had founded his own church.
Samuel K. Fabunmi
Jane M. Fabunmi, (wife of the late Samuel Fabunmi), interview by author.
Olukayode Makinde, (deacon and general secretary of Christ Apostolic Church of Glory, Nigeria), interview by author.
Olu Fabunmi, (brother), interview by author.
“The Biography of Apostle S. K. Fabunmi,” burial ceremony pamphlet of Fabunmi, 2000.
Olushola Ojo, “Up from Calamity - Life Story of Apostle J. A. Agbona,” unpublished paper (written to mark his forty years in the ministry), 1987.
This article, received in 2010, was written by Samuel K. Fabunmi, a postgraduate student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan. It was edited and submitted by Rev. Dr. Samson Adetunji Fatokun, Senior Lecturer in Church History and Pentecostal Studies, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, West Africa and DACB liaison coordinator.