Joseph Akinola Ogunmoriyele was born in Igede Ekiti in Nigeria. He married and had six children who all grew to adulthood. Later, even though he lost three of his children, the loss did not dampen his spirits beyond measure and he performed his preaching duties even during the time of mourning. This was a great virtue exhibited by the early missionaries to Nigeria who lost their children and spouses to malaria and other diseases. Some of them even requested to be buried in Nigeria.
After Ogunmoriyele and his wife received the call to go into the ministry, they worked for some time before accepting the call to serve at Ayegun Baptist Church Ogbomoso. They relocated, moving from Okiti Pupa Baptist Church to Ogbomoso in January 1965. They were inducted into the service of the church on February 7, 1965. Ogunmoriyele was the pastor of this church from 1965 until his retirement in 1992. He and his wife spent the greater portion of their ministry working at Ayegun Baptist Church which had actually been planted by an American missionary, Dr. George Green, the First Baptist missionary doctor to Nigeria. Ogunmoriyele was the third indigenous pastor of the church.
Several of Ogunmoriyele’s achievements during his ministry at Ayegun Baptist Church, Ogbomoso are worthy of mention. First, he developed a vision for finding another way to generate income for the church by spearheading a large scale farming project which provided income and food for some church members. He believed it is only when members have that they can give. Having undertaken that kind of business endeavor, the church became more financially stable and was able to support itself to a certain extent.
In January 1966 he undertook the construction of a bigger church sanctuary which is now the current place of worship. This new sanctuary was once identified as the largest church sanctuary in Ogbomoso and environs. Ogunmoriyele organized home-based Sunday school for members who were not strong enough to come to church services. He also developed a ministry to the mentally retarded and disabled people in their area. In this respect Ayegun Baptist Church became a pace setter and a center of attraction for other churches in the Nigerian Baptist Convention under Ogunmoriyele’s tenure. He established a hospital evangelism team, a ministry among the blind (at the center for the blind in Ogbomoso), and an orphanage and center for needy children (Kersey Home). In this way, many neglected people had access to the message of salvation and to the church’s ministry through social services.
He approved the establishment of the Prison Fellowship initiated by Mr. Ishola. Thanks to this ministry, many inmates became responsible members of their communities–even ministers of the gospel. During this time the church provided funds to transport the released inmates back to their hometowns and prepare them to be absorbed into their communities. The prison ministry of Ayegun Baptist Church Ogbomoso prompted other churches to start similar ministries but Ayegun remained a model for this ministry which never slowed down until several years after Ogunmoriyele’s retirement from the church.
Leadership Style and Church Growth Strategies
Ogunmoriyele’s greatest ministry “tools” were the love and commitment he showed to members and visitors to the church. This love affected the lives of many members to such an extent that Muslims started attending functions like naming ceremonies, burials, the dedication of houses and cars, and other celebrations. Church members cared for the needy and provided for the needs of celebrants who might not have enough financial resources to entertain the crowds attending their functions. Discrimination was not visible in the church. The welfare of the church became everyone’s concern.
The pastor’s commitment strengthened visitation, prayer, and evangelism. The church started gathering at four p.m. every Sunday for mass evangelism before evening services at five. Through this, the church grew tremendously and established many preaching stations. The church was recognized as having the largest number of Sunday evening worshippers in the entire Nigeria Baptist Convention of churches. The congregation filled the sanctuary in the evenings just as in the morning service. Ogunmoriyele led the ordination service of Dr. S. Ola Fadeji–the only Old Testament scholar for many decades at the Nigerian Baptist Convention–who went into full-time ministry on October 25, 1970.
Ogunmoriyele was sociable, attending functions and eating with members in open places to express his love. In appreciation of his services and as an encouragement, a group within the church called the Samaritan Group bought a new car for him and his family on the September 19, 1979.
He inaugurated the Ireti Ogo Theater on November 25, 1979. Under his leadership, the church built and dedicated the children’s auditorium on March 29, 1981. In 1982 the church also bought a durable generator which they used for 25 years, that is, several years after Ogunmoriyele’s retirement from the church. He inaugurated Idi Oro Baptist Church by starting a preaching station on April 5, 1981 and organized it into a church on November 12, 1985. He laid the foundation for the new church auditorium on November 24, 1984. Idi Oro Baptist Church is now as big and vibrant as the Ayegun mother church. The church’s constitution and bylaws were reviewed in his time.
His life and his ministry were a blessing to the Baptist work in Ogbomosoland, and to the Nigerian Baptist Convention family in general.
Akintayo S. Olayinka
Elder Ishola, interview by author, October 25, 2006.
Extract from “History of Ayegun Baptist Church, P.O. Box 32, Ogbomosho, Oyo State” History Ayegun, (n.p., n.d.).
This article, received in 2007, was researched and written by Rev. Akintayo S. Olayinka while a student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, P.M.B 4008, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.